3 Community Building Picture Books To Kick Off Your School Year


picture books to build community


If you are like me, you read many, many picture books during the first few weeks of school to settle into new routines and discuss the new school year’s expectations. What better way to build relationships than by getting cozy with your new students in your freshly organized classroom library and discussing exciting new books?  Picture books are a great way to begin discussions about your classroom community, too. Creating a classroom atmosphere where students feel safe to take risks and feel a sense of belonging is always my goal not just for back to school season, but for the entire school year.  The picture books listed below are my go to books that I love to read with my new students to begin creating a strong classroom community. These three books allow for meaningful discussions, role playing activities and carry similar themes. What I love about each of these books is that they have a main character who changes throughout the story, allowing for comparing and contrasting of not just the stories, but the characters, too.

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Weslandia Written by Paul Fleischman

This is one of my favorite books to read and refer back to all year long. This book is about a boy who feels like he doesn’t fit in with his peers and is strong enough to not be a follower to all the current trends. Instead, he begins his own land where he is free to be himself.  The land he creates reflects his interests and his unique personality. He finds out that by being himself, he ends up with more friends than he could imagine. A fun follow up activity is for students to create their own land based on their interests and unique personalities. This is a great way for students to get to know one another, too. This is a definite must read! (Grab a FREE activity to use with this book at the bottom of this post)

picture books to build community

One Written by Kathryn Otoshi

This book is filled with many metaphors, but truly perfect for any grade level. The main character of this book is Blue, who normally likes himself, except when hot-headed Red is around. With the backing of his colorful friends and a new friend too, Blue has the courage to stand up to Red. This book offers the opportunity to discuss how students can work together to look out for one another in your budding new classroom community. This cleverly written book will become your new favorite back to school read aloud! (Grab a FREE activity to use with this book at the bottom of this post)

picture books to build community

The Invisible Boy Written by Trudy Ludwig

This book is about a quiet boy named Brian who literally feels invisible everywhere he goes while at school. The illustrations are amazing, with colors that reflect how Brian is feeling. When Brian is feeling invisible he is drawn in black and white. Brian becomes more colorful as his feelings change and he becomes visible to his peers at school. This story is very relatable, allowing students to make connections on each and every page. (Grab a FREE activity to use with this book at the bottom of this post)

BONUS Book Suggestion: Be Where Your Feet Are by Julia Cook

upper elementary community buildingThis book is powerful! I recently came across this book and couldn't be more excited to add this to my stack of back to school read alouds! This book serves double duty, it kicks off your classroom discussion on mindfulness in the classroom and connects to creating a positive community climate. The first time I read this book, I personally found myself connecting to the main character who has too many things on his mind at once. Too often, our students are overbooked with school, homework, projects, sports, extra-curricular activities, family time and so much more. Sound familiar? The main character in this book is so focused on his band tryouts that he can not focus on anything else, including a math test. You can use the mindfulness tips included in the back of the book to kick off a class created list of ways students can work together to be present as individuals, supporting each other throughout the year. What I love about this book is the valuable life lesson about being mindful and present in all that you do. (Grab a FREE activity to use with this book at the bottom of this post

These stories can be easily compared and contrasted by students in small groups after reading them all aloud. With similar themes students will have a lot to talk about! Grab some great discussion questions and student writing activities for free at the bottom of this post.


picture books to build communityThese picture books are a great way to kick off your classroom discussions about your new classroom community. You can continue to have discussions about the community you have created in your classroom by revisiting these books throughout the year. What books do you like to read to encourage classroom community building? 

Click HERE for strategies to help build a strong classroom community starting on the first day of school!



picture books to build communityLooking to continue to discuss classroom community with your students each day? These quotes are a great way to engage students in discussing important themes like kindness, friendships and of course community building! Perfect for morning meeting time or after recess discussions.

Interested in reading easy and fun strategies to bring kindness into your classroom? Click HERE.




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