Genre Studies: Back to School Read Alouds

Genre Studies: Back to School Read-Alouds


In planning for back to school with my second and third graders, I spend a significant amount of time researching which books to read aloud to them. I am often asking myself questions such as:

  • Will this story hook my students into reading?
  • Will students reach for this book during reading workshop?
  • Which non-fiction texts are best for reading aloud?
  • Which non-fiction texts will peak students’ interest and encourage additional inquiries?
  • Which poems will encourage a love of words?


I find back to school to be the perfect time of year to focus on incorporating different genres when I’m reading aloud to my class. In developing a love of language and encouraging students to be avid readers, I want to be thinking about how I can reach them all. Some will be quite motivated and learn best through listening to a story, others love realistic photographs and factual information, while still others prefer the rhythm of words in the genre of poetry.


There are many wonderful books to include in your back to school read aloud sessions. This fall while in the classroom, my students and I have begun to explore some of the titles listed below. Each genre offers a wide range of possibilities for sharing.


Fictional Picture Books: I often share several picture books on the first few days of school. This year some of our favorites include:

  •  Fish and Snail by Deborah FreedmanFish and Snail is such a beautiful story about exploration and trying new things but most of all the power of friendships.
  • Once Upon An Ordinary School Day by Colin McNaughtenOnce Upon An Ordinary School Day is a fantastic story that explores the power a teacher can have to ignite passion in students. Mr. Gee (the teacher) brings words alive in encouraging his young students to write.


Non-Fiction: This year I intentionally set out to locate non-fiction books that focus on back to school around the world. I was thrilled to locate the following fabulous read aloud titles:

  • Off To Class by Susan Hughes – Susan Hughes hooked my students immediately with a focus on unique schools around the world. We read through a section on Bangladesh boat schools and rich discussions ensued. In fact, we had so many questions and wonderings that we’ve decided to locate more information such as videos, additional books and articles about boat schools.
  • A School Like Mine produced by UNICEF and authored by Penny Smith is also intriguing to students in that they get to explore how children around the world attend school The author interviews individual children and as such readers gain a unique view into their daily school lives.


Poetry: Sharing poetry with students is one of my favorite ways to make sure students see language as fun and inviting. These two collections invite students to read together and laugh out loud!


Here’s to an inspiring new school year!


Danielle Hittle

Danielle Hittle is a parent, educator, and curriculum designer. She has over fifteen years of teaching experience in Elementary Education with an MS in Integrated Teaching and Learning from Ohio State University. Danielle has spent the majority of her teaching career as an instructor at the primary grade levels at Indianola Informal K–8 (arts impact) in Columbus, Ohio. She specializes in integrating the arts and literacy into all areas of the core curriculum. In her free time, Danielle loves to explore with her two children: finding reading treasures at the library, visiting local parks, getting messy with art materials, and enjoying lots of play time!



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  1. What a great way to start the school year. I love the idea of using a variety of genres as I often get stuck in the fiction realm. Although my girls aren’t yet school-age, this has motivated me to search for some non-fiction texts they might enjoy, even at their young ages. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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