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5 Books I Like to Read with Students Before We Check Out Books

The school year is rolling now, folks.

Students at my K-4 school library are checking out books this week, so we’re talking about book selection and care. Here are the titles we’re reading before sending students off to the stacks.

With kindergarten students I like to read . . .

My Pet Book

When rhyming text works, it’s just so much fun to read aloud. This book (like many on this list) offers an opportunity to talk about book selection and care with students without beating anyone over the head about it.

With 1st grade students I like to read . . .


A) It’s a good story. B) It has a meta twist at the end where the girl in the story makes a jacket for her book that matches the jacket on the outside.

With 2nd grade students I like to read . . .


A good ol’ book about books to get students in the mood for choosing some of their own.

With 3rd grade students I like to read . . . 

Have I Got a Book for You

Is there a more fun read aloud? Any time you can go into used car salesman mode, it’s a fun read aloud.

With 4th grade students I like to read . . .

A Perfectly Messed Up Story

I love this one for a bunch of reasons, but some big ones include:

  • That it features a character who is completely exasperated. If The Pigeon has taught us anything, it’s that exasperation = humor.
  • I really like how all the stains and food and fingerprints that mess up the book look so realistic. Nice touch, Patrick McDonnell
  • It shows how a messed up book isn’t the end of the world.
About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. These are so great. I did a little bit of Give Me Back My Book! this year which also does some sly book care without being boring about it.

  2. I used Library Dragon for the first time this year. It has hilarious puns in it, which are over the heads of 3rd grade, but 4th and 5th appreciated them. It goes into book care and location of materials.