Students often feel anxious and nervous at school — whether it's first-day jitters, a test, or meeting new people. As you begin to think about ways to prepare your students for the fall academically, don't forget to also consider ways to prepare them emotionally. 

Having the right read-alouds in your classroom library can make all the difference in how your students process stress and how they regulate their anxieties. Read-alouds not only keep your students engaged in learning, but also make the perfect brain breaks to complement outher calming strategies like meditation. 

Whether you're teaching about confidence, kindness, or creativity, having a wealth of SEL-focused read-alouds in your library will make a positive impact on your students.

Here are five read-alouds to share with your students for stress-busting brain breaks that leave them feeling refreshed and energized for more learning.

1. Belly Breathe

This sweet book is a soothing introduction to mindfulness meditation that helps smaller children feel grounded in moments of stress, and then draws upon their newfound calming techniques to remember their true selves and feel whole again. This is a perfect read-aloud for any time of the day or year and can be read over and over again.

2. Zen Shorts

When your students love a variety of stories, look to this lovely book by Jon J. Muth about three children who get a peculiar new neighbor — a friendly panda bear named Stillwater who tells amazing tales. These simple stories that hold valuable lessons (like how to handle frustration, how to value what we have, and what it truly means to do good), along with beautiful watercolor illustrations are sure to be a hit with students year after year. 

3. Creatrilogy: The Dot

This popuar picture book is a stirring and inspirational title for anyone who’s ever dismissed their own innate creative spirit. A powerful read-aloud that encourages imagination, this book will remind students of their own unique ability to create, starting with something seemingly simple that could blossom into ideas beyond their wildest dreams. 

4. What Does It Mean to Be Kind?

Teach your students what it truly means to be kind to one another with this beautiful read-aloud about how small things truly mean the most. Filled with ideas on how everyday people can be kind to others, students will get a sense of how kindness ripples through their community, starting from small acts that they themselves can do! 

5. Too-Loud Lily

Lily Hippo is energetic, creative, and kind — but she's also way too loud! Everywhere she goes, Lily is told by grown-ups to lower her voice. Until one day, a new music and drama teacher comes to school, and Lily discovers she's finally doing the right thing by just being herself. This beautiful, funny book will encourage your students to discover what they're really good at and what brings them the most joy. 

Shop more popular read-alouds perfect for brain breaks below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store.

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