10+ Books for Building Positive Traits in the First Week

Ahhhh...the first week of school. You have your LONG list of to-dos you needed to complete during your work week, and naturally, your week is filled with trainings, faculty meetings, and learning about blood born pathogens, epi pens, and PLCs. The real work for your first week starts the weekend before the children come, and that is where we are today (except I had to lead a few of the trainings).  To help you make your weekend a bit easier, I am linking up with a few blogging friends to share Back to School tips and printables you can use the first week (and beyond). Since the focus of my blog is on literacy, I thought I'd share suggestions of great books you might grab to model the character traits and behaviors you hope to see all year long.


When it comes to friendship, I have a long list of book choices. I love Patricia Polacco and the themes she shares in her books, and from her long list, Bully is the one I use often with upper grades. It deals with cliques which are a real problem in upper elementary. For primary students, Goggles by Ezra Jack Keats has a similar theme in that two boys are bullied by older kids. I think it's an important read because it allows discussion of what's okay and what's not. Every child needs to read and know Peter and hear the stories from Ezra Jack Keats (but the rest are all very sweet natured). They are just classics. Another great choice for the primary grades is Frog and Toad are Friends. Agree? Again, all kids should know Frog and Toad.  Finally, I love Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. It is tough because it doesn't have a happy ending, but it will get your children thinking which is what we need them to do if they are truly going to internalize the importance of being a true friend to every child in the classroom. I have resources developed for all of these titles in my store, and if you'd like to explore them, just click the covers below. 
Goggles Guided Reading Unit by Ezra Jack Keats   Frog and Toad Are Friends  Kindness in the Classroom   Bully by Patricia Polacco


This is a tough one to teach, and a read aloud will not complete the task. Perseverance takes lots of practice, and I think with modeling through read alouds, role playing, and observation of what perseverance looks like, kids begin to demonstrate it. This collection of books will get you started. If you decide to feature Ezra Jack Keats, I will point out Whistle for Willie is in this list. Salt in His Shoes is the story of Michael Jordan, and it is sure to pull in any basketball lovin girl or boy.A Chair for My Mother is a great one to show perseverance in another way as the young girl saves up money to get the chair for her mother. Finally, I'd add in Amazing Grace as a great one. 


The last trait I feel is really important for the first week of school is responsibility. Responsibility is the key to community. Our children need to be responsible for themselves and their own actions, but I think it is also important to stress responsibility in the sense of family. We need to be responsible to our class and committed to the goal of keeping safe, keeping happy, and keeping everyone on the learning train. The freebie I am sharing is for the book, Mrs. Spitzer's Garden.  

In case you wish to play the read aloud to your students, here is an embedded clip.

This set is best for second graders, but may work well for a lesson later in the year for strong first graders.
Click to Download
Mrs. Spitzer's Garden

Pin for Later:

Mrs. Spitzer's Garden is a wonderful book to inspire both teachers and students. Check out this post for how to use it and other great titles to start your year off right. FREEBIE INCLUDED


  1. Thank you for sharing these wonderful back to school texts. The YouTube you shared is so unique, loved the real pictures. The resource you shared is a perfect accompaniment to the book!
    Burke's Special Kids

  2. Perfect activity for back to school. :)

  3. Hi Carla! Great book suggestions here and I LOVE the YouTube video!! Thanks for sharing!



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