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Top 5 Beginning Kindergarten Books

By Brian Smith on August 17, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K

Before I started writing this blog post, I pulled what I thought was my entire collection of "beginning of kindergarten" books off my shelf. Then I saw a few more and pulled them off. Then I realized I had missed a few more books. When I looked at the pile there were more books than I knew I would ever have time to read during the first week of school. So I laid all of these books out, and decided to find the top five books that I would read to my class.

One note I need to share before I move on to my top five. I own several copies of the classic first-day book, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, but I left it off of this top five list because it’s so well-known. It is possibly the best of this type of book and is what many consider to be the quintessential PreK and kindergarten read-aloud. Being that it is such a classic, I consider it to be in a class by itself. So let it be known that while I do love The Kissing Hand, here are five other great books:


Adventure Annie Cover5. Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Amy Wummer

There are a couple reasons that I love this book. The first one is personal. Adventure Annie’s teacher is male and we male kindergarten teachers are few and far between. The second reason, and honestly the biggest reason that I love this book, is because this story isn’t about a student who is scared or nervous, but rather about a girl who loves adventure and searches for it at every opportunity. She leaves the classroom without permission, she paints the classroom’s hamster cage, and is definitely one of those big personalities that I love having walk though my classroom door. She learns the rules of kindergarten and stays true to herself the entire day. From the students in my classroom alone, this book could be turned into a series with titles like Adventure Abby, Eager Emma, and Wild Whitney. Oh, the stories that come to mind!


Planet Kindergarten Cover4. Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore

Every day is an adventure if you are a 5-year-old, and there is no greater adventure than the first day of kindergarten. This fantastically imaginative book begins with a great scene where a child gets dressed and all ready to ride to Planet Kindergarten. The illustrations mimic a comic book, and the story really turns cute when our main character walks into kindergarten only to discover creatures from other planets (his classmates). This book is guaranteed to have every wiggly male student on the edge of their seat as they wait to see how this out-of-the-world adventure ends.


Monstergarten Cover3. Monstergarten by Daniel J. Mahoney and pictures by Jeff Kaminsky

The majority of my classroom books are purchased from the Scholastic Reading Club, yard sales, consignment stores, other teachers, and everywhere else that I can find great books at great prices. But I love this book so much that I actually paid full price for the hardcover version at a bookstore! (Now if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.) It’s now available in paperback through the Scholastic Reading Club and it is worth the purchase.

This book was my theme last year. My class was "Mr. Smith’s Monsterously Good Leaders in Monstergarten." Kevin and Patrick are two monsters who are getting ready for monstergarten but a first-grader told them that they had to be scary to go to monstergarten, and they just aren’t that frightening. Mr. Goop (the monstergarten teacher who wears glasses just like me!) is there to calm the boys’ fears and make learning fun. It’s a great story and I love the illustrations. It is one that you will revisit for many years to come.


Panda Kindergarten Cover2. Panda Kindergarten by Joanne Ryder and photos by Dr. Katherine Feng

This book is my students' first introduction to the word “nonfiction.” With the Common Core State Standards placing an emphasis on nonfiction, this is a terrific book to help introduce this type of text. The real photographs will have everyone in your class "oohing" and "ahhing" at the turn of each page, and who can ask for anything more than having students engaged with literature on the first day of school! I make sure that I point out to my students that this nonfiction book has real photos and not drawn pictures. While this isn’t a rule that is set in stone, it is good to get them started in making predictions about the type of text that a book may be.


Kindergarten Rocks Cover1. Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis

Not only do I absolutely adore this story of Dexter's (don't forget his stuffed dog Rufus!) first day of kindergarten, but every single student in my class loves it each year. That is why it’s my first choice for a beginning of kindergarten book. Dex’s big sister Jessie tries to calm her brother's fears and tells him over and over that "Kindergarten rocks!" Every time I come to the words “kindergarten rocks,” I shout them out and bang my head as if I’m at the best concert EVER! The kids love it and all year long they will randomly say, “Kindergarten rocks!” after they love something that we do during the year.

Please share your favorite beginning of the kindergarten book with me because, evidently, I can never have too many books about the beginning of the year.


Let’s connect on Pinterest and Twitter.

I can’t wait to see you next week.

Comments (2)

Thank you for introducing me to some new books. I will definitely be buying Monstergarten with my first scholastic order. Another favorite of mine is First Day Jitters. It shows my young scholars that even adults can be nervous.

I am SO glad! I also love First Day Jitters but I was first introduced to the book as a way to teach a surprise endings!

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