Photo by Erin Beers

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I am one of those teachers that LOVES reading aloud to my students.  I read aloud for a multitude of reasons, but mostly, I LOVE to read to them because they still enjoy being read to.  In addition to my love of reading, research shows read alouds allow my students to:

  1. Connect with and have models and examples of various genres for their own personal writing
  2. Provide them the opportunity to hear fluent reading in order to build their vocabulary
  3. Improve their listening comprehension
  4. Enhance visualization skills

If you are like me, you are always looking for a few great read alouds to connect student learning and get those imaginations flowing on those first few days back to school.

Here are a few of my favorites to use as first day read alouds for middle grade students…

Read Aloud #1: How I Spent My Summer Vacation…

How I Spent My Summer Vacation picture book

This read aloud is a fun way to start your work with a brand new crew after summer break.

Writing Prompt: How did you spend your summer days?
I like to begin each year with a Smilebox that I make highlighting the summer months with my family.  The students get to know a bit about me, my family, and how we spent some time together in the summer.  If you are wanting to check out this awesome tool for your own classroom, go to and apply for a free teacher toolbox subscription.  You upload pictures and can make video collages, newsletters, and certificates in a snap.

In addition, I love to read this story about a boy who is reporting to his class about how during his summer vacation his imagination got so wild his parents sent him out west and the story goes from there.

My purpose for sharing is that some students take elaborate vacations and some do not.  This text gives those that don’t the opportunity to share what they “WISH” they had done on summer vacation if they don’t have what they believe to be an exciting story to tell.  A perfect writing prompt…

Writing Idea: Have your students create a list of all the things they did during their summer break.  These ideas can be as simple as listing the best things about a summer day.  This list can be created on loose leaf with colored pencils, then placed in their brand new writing binder.  I like to use these types of lists for student writing ideas when we begin our personal experience narratives.

Other list ideas:

  • a few of my favorite things
  • things that make me smile
  • favorite places to walk to
  • favorite things to eat
  • favorite songs

Read Aloud #2: First Day Jitters…

First Day Jitter read aloud book

While First Day Jitters is a beloved story in the primary grades, I find my BIG KIDS love it even more.  It is a story told in rhyme with excellent illustrations that will have the students wondering and inferring.

Your older students will LOVE this silly picture book because what they infer is completely wrong. Use this fun book for Predicting, Inferring, or as an Ice Breaker.

The reader of this book believes until the very end that the main character of the story is a little girl that is nervous about the first day of school.  The reader finds out at the very end that it is in fact the teacher that is nervous to begin her first day.

Students love this book because they often don’t consider that a teacher is nervous.  This text sparks great narrative writing topics about times when we have been nervous, but we didn’t want to admit it.  The perfect extension work  to go along with this perfect “First Day of School” read aloud is this reader’s theater toolkit. Click the image to take a peek!

first day read alouds back to school

What read alouds are tried and true with your kiddos?  Please pass along the awesome texts and ideas you utilize to grab the attention of your students from the moment they walk through your door on that first day of the new year!  Happy Reading!


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