Whether you wrap up the school year in two days or two weeks, you might be looking for a book or two to share with your students. So, I thought I would share a few of my most popular end-of-the-year read-aloud titles along with my favorite tip for encouraging students to revisit books we've read over the year. If you’re already reflecting on and celebrating the completion of another successful year, add this post to your “end of the year” file for next year. Happy reading!
Teaching Tip: Reread your students’ favorite books!
As the school year draws to close, ask each student to choose the one book or chapter that he or she wants to hear read aloud again. To refresh their memories, place “old favorite” books all over the classroom towards the end of the year. This helps learners select some of the books that you read earlier in the year, rather than the titles you most recently completed. During the last weeks of school, post the titles on a chart, read them all aloud, and then send the list home to spark summer reading. Find this and other ready-to-teach ideas in Month-by-Month Reading Instruction for the Differentiated Classroom (Walther & Phillips, 2012).
Favorite End-of-the-Year Read-Alouds
Here are some of my students’ favorite end-of-the-year books:
Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Simon & Schuster, 2009)
I always say that you can’t end the year without reading at least one book about butts or underwear! Your class will enjoy this humorous picture book while learning different names for animal rear ends. Notice and discuss the two ants that appear on every page.
The End by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Richard Egielski (Arthur A. Levine, 2007)
This backward fairy tale begins with the ending and continues in a cause-and-effect pattern to reveal the events leading up to the “The End.”
Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell (Disney/Hyperion, 2012)
Tired of her electronic devices and of being ignored by her family, Lydia ventures outside to discover a world of wonder and adventure. In the end, she entices her family to join her. Read this to inspire your learners to unplug, explore, and imagine this summer. Check out Matthew Cordell’s website or follow him on Twitter @cordellmatthew.
I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, 2015)
This uplifting collection of good wishes is the ideal book to read on the last day of school. It would also be a wonderful gift for a graduate! You can follow Amy (the author) and Tom (the illustrator) on Twitter @missamykr and @tlichtenheld.
Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love (Charlesbridge, 2006)
In this last-day favorite, and sequel to First Day Jitters (Danneberg, 2000), Mrs. Hartwell’s class works all week to make her a special last-day surprise. I love the ending where the teachers are celebrating, too. One of our school’s last day rituals is holding all the busses until every teacher is outside. Then, we all wave as the busses pull away for the final time. It is quite an emotional moment.
Lemonade and Other Summer Poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Jan Gilchrist (Boyds Mills, 2001)
Share the joys of summer, from jump rope rhymes to jelly fish, as you read Dotlich’s kid-friendly poems. Follow the poet and author on Twitter @rebeccakai.
Sing by Joe Raposo and Tom Lichtenheld (Henry Holt, 2013)
If you watched Sesame Street as a young child, you might remember the song “Sing.” This song of courage, pride, and hope comes to life with Tom Lichtenheld’s brilliant illustrations. The picture book also includes a CD so that your class can sing along! What a wonderful tune for children to be humming as they leave your classroom for the last time.
Summer by Alice Low, illustrated by Roy McKie (Random House, 1963/1991)
Fireworks, fairs, and fireflies are just a few things that summer brings. After reading this book aloud, invite students to draw, write, or simply share their favorite summer events and adventures.
Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee (Henry Holt, 2012)
Enjoy this delightful rhyming book at the end of the school year. Readers who are looking forward to hot summer days will be able to connect with the little girl in this book.
When It’s the Last Day of School by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama (Putnam, 2005)
James details all the things he won’t do on the last day of school (but has probably done all year!). I’m guessing you might have a “James” or two in your class this year. If you do, you will enjoy the ironic humor in this book as much as the children enjoy listening to it!
For more book recommendations by Maria Walther, check out Transforming Literacy Teaching in the Era of Higher Standards and Month-by-Month Reading Instruction for the Differentiated Classroom and follow her on Twitter @mariapwalther.