With all read alouds, it's really important to review the book first. You know your school and community and need to make decisions about what texts will work best for your students. As books for older readers, there can sometimes be language and situations that some might object to in a read-aloud. It's important to have a rationale for the books you select that you can share if necessary.
Also important are selecting books that represent the diversity of your classroom. Not every book can reach every student, but it's essential to read a range of texts to students. Make your selections interesting, relevant, and worthy of discussion.
So just about every teacher I know is on Pintrest, and there are a couple of beginning of the year boards that you might be interested in. There are boards here and here that have a lot of suggestions.
Below are some elementary, middle school, and high school suggestions with some (very) brief summaries.
There's a great blog post at the NY Times about back-to-school read recommendations for parents to read to children or for new readers to pick up on their own. These would work well as classroom read alouds as well.
Here are some more picks:
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt: sweet story about accidentally learning to overcome fears
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and David Messing: helps kids see the joy of being kind to others
My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman: Louis just can't help saying everything that comes to him, but learns how to wait his turn to speak
Donovan's Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross and Cheryl Hanna: Donovan loves words and keeps them in a jar, until the jar runs out of room. What will he do?
Ruby the Copycat by Margaret Rathmann: a first-day of school story about learning to be yourself
Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth by Marie-Louise Gay: a great story about the power of imagination
Splat the Cat: Back to School Splat! by Rob Scotton: sharing summer adventures during the first-day of school show-and-tell
More than Anything Else by Marie Bradby and
The Bee Tree by Patricia Polocco: charming book about reading and learning from grandparents
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, and Lane Smith: these three authors/illutrators' work comes together to tell the story of a powerful teacher
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane by Kate DiCamillo and Bagram Ibatoulline: loss and love
A Teaspoon of Courage for Kids by Bradley Trevor Greive: the first weeks of middle school can be great. They can also be tough. A little pick-me-up for kids.
Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller: story of author Richard Wright's struggle to gain access to a public library
Wonder by R.J. Palacio: Lots of buzz with this book about a boy born with Treacher-Collins syndrome told in multiple voices
Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor: Addie doesn't let her situation get her down, but is waiting for a more normal life to settle into
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: sci-fi twist on cinderella as a cyborg
Girl, Stolen by April Henry: an accidental kidnapping begins this page-turner
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz-Ryan and Peter Sis: biography, poetry, and fiction blend to create this magical realism story of poet Pablo Neruda
Storm Runners and Peak by Roland Smith: If your students like adventure, Smith writes some good ones
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz: funny and scary tales of Hansel and Gretel finding themselves in other Grimm fairy tales
Swear to Howdy by Wendelin Van Draanen: a story of true friendship and keeping secrets
Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by
Savvy by Ingrid Law: a great story about growing up and the importance of family
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson: historical fiction set in 1918 tells of orphan Hattie leaving Iowa for Montana to search for a real home
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick: If you have a doc cam, this is a beautiful book for a read aloud. In fact, I like this follow-up by Selznick even more than The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Yeah, I said it.
Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey: gory and full of adventure - a definite page-turner
The Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang: Yang beautifully shares her family's escape from Thailand and the challenge of adapting to life in the US.
Trapped by Michael Northrop: thriller survival story of teens caught in a blizzard
Guardian by Julius Lester: set in segregated south, the story of the lynching of a black man falsely accused of rape told through a boy who knows the truth but keeps silent
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins: The first in a series about a girl who discovers she's a witch. classic teen drama and situations
Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti: yes, a Holocaust book, but a really good one
Short stories/essays by David Sedaris, David Rakoff, Sarah Vowell, Augusten Burroughs, David Boyne
What are your favorite beginning of the year read alouds? Add your suggestions in the comments! Happy reading!