22 Back to School Picture Books to Help Students Embrace Who They Are


Looking for back to school picture books to help start the year off right? The beginning of the year is such an important time for creating a healthy classroom culture. If students feel like a valued part of the class, they will be so much more engaged and excited to come to school each day. Reading picture books can be an easy and impactful way to share that message of acceptance.

In order for students to feel comfortable being who they are at school, it is necessary to highlight and celebrate the unique culture that they bring to the classroom community. The following books are broken up into 5 different categories to help students appreciate what makes them special. The categories are Embracing Names, Accepting Yourself, Celebrating Family, Appreciating Food and Culture, and Hope and Dreams.

Read on to find out about these amazing books and get a FREE resource you can use in your classroom at the start of the year.

Embracing Names

Our names are such an important part of who we are. Some students might not have to think much about their names. Others might have some anxiety around their name at the start of the school year if it is unfamiliar to their teacher or classmates. These back to school picture books do an awesome of job of celebrating students with names that are different or unique.

Accepting Yourself

The books below are all about how everyone isn’t the same and that’s okay. It is all about appreciating the strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are. It’s so important for students to understand that they bring value to the class, just as they are.

Grab a FREE activity here to go along with the book, The Day You Begin, as well as a lesson to help students introduce their names to the class.

Celebrating Family

So much of what shapes students are their families. These stories really highlight the fact that families may look different, but there are common threads that connect us all. Talking about family traditions and stories is a great way to get students to start to open up about their lives.

Appreciating Food and Culture

Food is such a fun way to explore culture! Students will love reading about different types of food that kids like themselves get to help make. The books below show how the foods we eat play a special role in our lives.

Hopes and Dreams

All students have hopes and dreams that they start the year with. Sometimes they just need a little help realizing what those dreams might be. These books will get them thinking of goals for the school year or even for the future.

If you are looking for activities that you can do alongside these read-alouds, check out our This is Me: Sharing Student Culture Unit. It has lesson plans for each of the five themes as well as a student booklet that students will enjoy completing about themselves. It’s the perfect way to start the year and get students embracing who they are.

We hope you have a great start to your year!

Check out our blog post on 12 Mentor Texts You Need for Your Personal Narrative Unit for more picture book ideas for the classroom!

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