As students come together to form a class, we start the year by building a classroom culture that will transform this group of individual students into a team that will go on a year-long adventure of growth and learning. Our Classroom Culture’s #thatbookthat series is perfect to get the year started off right.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @RubiconAtlas, where you can tweet us your own #thatbookthat!

Feel free to click the books’ images for a link to purchase them at our local Powell’s Bookstore here in Portland, Oregon!

#thatbookthat teaches kindness, empathy, and understanding: Chrysanthemum, Kevin Henkes

The main character, Chrysanthemum, loves her unique name, until the other kids start teasing her. Follow along as she and her classmates learn a lesson about teasing, self-esteem, and acceptance.

We always read this book at the beginning of the year to talk about how we treat the other students in our class. After reading the book, each student wrote or drew a picture about how they wanted to be treated on a flower petal cut-out. We used the petals to make a large chrysanthemum to display in the classroom. If we ever had a problem with teasing, we referenced the flower and talked about how Chrysanthemum felt in the book and how we wanted to treat each other.

#thatbookthat introduces classroom jobs & helpers: The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen needs help planting and growing wheat to make bread, but will anyone help her? What happens when the bread is done?

This classic story introduces teamwork and helps kids think about taking care of the classroom as a shared responsibility. After reading this book, we would talk about official classroom jobs and how each student could contribute. As the year progresses and the classroom gets messy or jobs seem to have been forgotten, you can always reread this classic as a reminder about helping out.

#thatbookthat reminds children to respect their teacher: Miss Nelson is Missing, Harry Allard

The kids in Room 207 take advantage of Miss Nelson’s good nature until she disappears and they are faced with a horrible substitute, Miss Viola Swamp.

This fun, funny book will have your students laughing and intrigued. More importantly, it provides an opportunity for talking about respect. If the students ever start pushing the limits throughout the year, I would jokingly tell them that maybe Miss Viola Swamp might need to come. This was an easy way to remind them to check on their behavior.

#thatbookthat teaches about the importance of telling the truth:  Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, Verna Aardema

This African folktale (and Caldecott Medal winner) follows a lie told by the mosquito that starts a jungle disaster.

This clever story helps students understand the importance of honesty and that telling lies has consequences. As we lay the foundation for building a culture of trust, this book helps students find words and examples to talk about telling the truth. Pairing the story with the game Telephone can build on the lesson to talk about gossip as well. 

#thatbookthat helps celebrate differences and introduces growth mindset: A Walk in the Rain with a Brain, Edward M. Hallowell, MD

A little girl is walking down the street when she happens upon a brain. She asks him how she can be smarter, and he assures her that everyone is smart, but in different ways.

This book will help start the year with an open conversation about how we are all different and have unique strengths. I always had kids write and draw about one way in which they are really “smart” (drawing, playing soccer, reading, etc) and one thing that they want to work on throughout the year. We then talked about growth mindset and how we can grow our brains to get smarter at anything if we work hard. 

Tweet to us @RubiconAtlas with your favorite #thatbookthat!

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