Our Favorite Classroom Community Books

Every elementary teacher loves a good read-aloud - especially when it serves the extra purpose of helping your students learn something! Read-alouds can be used in so many different ways in the classroom. They can get your students interested in books, help support the academics you are teaching, and even teach students valuable life skills and character development - such as how to be a good friend and classmate.

Whether you are just establishing your expectations at the beginning of the year, or need a refresh later on, read-alouds can be a great way to open the door to great discussions about making the classroom a safe and welcoming place for everyone. Here are five classroom community books that can help!

The Best Books for Teaching Classroom Community

1. Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade

Our Class is a Family helps build classroom community by drawing a parallel between our communities at home with our communities at school. This book teaches students about treating each other with respect and kindness, being themselves, and making memories with one another. Between the catchy rhymes and the beautiful illustrations, this book is sure to keep students' attention while teaching them about what makes a truly wonderful classroom community.

TeacherGoals Tips

This book promotes some great opportunity for discussion with your students!

  • Before reading, ask your students what they think it means to be part of a family. How are they and other members of their family expected to treat each other at home?
  • After reading, talk about what these things might look like in a classroom environment. This discussion will help them make the connection between their families at home and their classroom family and how they should treat each other.

This book is a great way to promote a loving classroom community, and will be especially meaningful for students that may not have a strong family unit at home.

2. What Should Danny Do? by Ganit and Adir Levy

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade

This interactive, "choose your own story" book will help kids to understand how the different choices they make every day can affect others. The story follows Danny, a superhero-in-training, as he makes everyday choices that kids face. Students will get to see the story unfold as they help Danny make decisions, and see firsthand how the decisions they made affected not only Danny, but also those around him.

TeacherGoals Tips

This book is a great opportunity to talk about how different choices we make in the classroom might affect other students.

Your students are sure to have a blast helping Danny make choices! They will be begging to read it over and over again to see what happens when different choices are made.

3. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

Kindergarten to 4th Grade

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is a wonderful story that teaches kids the power of being kind. The author uses the metaphor of a bucket to illustrate how kind words (and unkind words!) affect not only those around us, but us as well. This story is a long-time classroom favorite and there are many fun activities that can be incorporated to go along with this classroom community book.

TeacherGoals Tips

Use this book to challenge students to be kind to one another!

  • After reading, have students create their own "bucket." This can be as simple as drawing one on a piece of paper. Alternatively, you can give each student a paper bag to decorate as their "bucket." Then, give students several slips of paper to go around and drop a kind note in other students' buckets.
  • You can also get free downloadables at bucketfillers101.com.

If you like this book, there are several other books in the series that you might enjoy, too! Bonus: 50% of all sales are donated to non-profits for children and families. Every purchase fills more buckets!

4. Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Kindergarten to 3rd Grade

Do Unto Otters is a great book for building classroom community by teaching manners and being a good friend. When otters move in next door to Mr. Rabbit, he turns to Mr. Owl for advice since he doesn't know anything about otters. Mr. Owl's advice is simple: treat OTTERS the way you want to be treated!

TeacherGoals Tips

Do Unto Otters is a fantastic book for teaching kids about the golden rule! Allow time to reflect on and discuss what this concept looks like in real life after reading.

  • Guide students in making a list of how they personally like to be treated. Then, brainstorm ways we can do those things unto others at school!
  • Have students share or write about a time when someone treated them with kindness. How did it make them feel? How would they have felt if they hadn't received that kindness?

This playful story is always a hit with students and really gets the point across in a fun and silly way.

5. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade

One of the most important things we can teach our students is kindness, and that's exactly what this book is all about! Kindness is the key to building an excellent classroom community. In Be Kind, a little girl Tanisha spills grape juice all over her dress, and other students laugh at her. But one special classmate knows it's wrong to laugh and wants to be kind instead. Which prompts her to ask the question - what does it mean to be kind? She comes up with many different ideas of what being kind can look like as she explores the answer to this question.

TeacherGoals Tips

Be Kind can aid in some great discussions with students about being kind! Here are some ideas for conversation:

  • Before reading the book, have students share or write about what they think it means to be kind.
  • After reading, create an anchor chart to compile a large list of ways students can be kind to each other in the classroom. Consider compiling it into the different categories the little girl goes through in the book - giving, helping, and paying attention.
  • Discuss with students how one small act of kindness can have a large impact on our communities.

Hopefully, this book will give your students fresh ideas on ways to be kind and they will focus on treating others with kindness in the classroom.

All of these classroom community books are great for helping build a strong classroom environment where students treat each other with kindness and respect. Beyond just reading these books, be sure to engage in meaningful discussion with students about how they can apply the concepts in the book in the classroom. In many cases, you can even take it a step further and incorporate activities to put what they've learned into real life practice!

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Want ideas for more read-alouds? Check out these:

What are your favorite classroom community books?

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