The end of the school year is a time of mixed emotions. Students have worked hard all year and are almost at the finish line. Some may be excited for their summer vacation, while others may feel anxious to say goodbye. All these emotions can make classroom management a bit of a struggle!
However students may be feeling, one way to help them through this transition period is with a good story! Today I wanted to share some book recommendations that are perfect for end-of-the-year read-alouds. I have divided up the books into different categories, but there may be some overlapping themes.
WHEN IT’S THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL BY MARIBETH BOELTS
A young student is excited for the last day of school. He shares all the different things that he will and will NOT do on the last day of school. The focus is on his behavior.
This book is a great way to remind students of classroom expectations while also celebrating that school is almost over!
THE NIGHT BEFORE KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION BY NATASHA WING
I have recommended Natasha Wing’s Night Before series on my blog before. This book is all about the preparation for a Kindergarten Graduation ceremony. Some students may be nervous to be in front of a large group of people and this book does acknowledge that!
If you teach Kindergarten, I would love to know if your school hosts a ceremony for them?
last day blues by julie Danneberg
This is the follow-up book to the extremely popular, First Day Jitters. Mrs. Hartwell’s students are worried about her feeling sad on the last day of school and decide to get her a present to cheer her up. The students struggle to think of what to get her. Throughout the story, Mrs. Hartwell and the students discuss what they will miss once school is over. In the end, the students come up with the perfect gift for their teacher.
If you do read First Day Jitters I think students will really enjoy revisiting this character for their end-of-the-year read-aloud. Students could compare how Mrs. Hartwell felt at the beginning of the year vs. the end of the year.
Extension Idea: Have students share what they will miss the most about school this year. You can find this journaling page and more in my June/July Writing Prompts and Journal set. This would be a great time to try them out with your students. I have a Writing Prompt Journals: Bundle Set that can be used for the entire school year.
The set comes with a picture-word wall, 36 journal prompt cards, and writing journal pages. There are also nine fun craft activities that are perfect for this time of year!
MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3 BY GRETCHEN BRANDENBURG MCLELLAN
In this story, the students find out that their teacher will not be returning to school after summer vacation. The students, except William, work together to help Mrs. McBee pack up her classroom. While William is accused of being lazy for not helping, he is secretly working on a project for Mrs. McBee. It allows for a conversation that people react to news differently. William chose to help Mrs. McBee in a different way.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the description of what a bittersweet moment is: “It’s like a swirly ice cream with sad and happy twisted together.”
LIZZIE AND THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL BY TRINKA HAKES NOBLE
Lizzie is a first-grader who loves school! The book follows Lizzie throughout the year and highlights what she’s learned (and taught her baby sister at home). Slowly her routine changes as teachers prepare for the end of the year. The last day of school is a half-day and Lizzie is not ready to say goodbye! She sneaks about into the school to see Miss G. one last time. She discovers that Miss G. is just as sad as her.
Extension Idea: In the book, Lizzie shares what her special teachers have taught her. Students can work together to create an End-of-the-Year book for their special area teachers! Have each student create a page sharing one thing they’ve learned from the teacher.
Saying Goodbye / CHANGE
I Wish You More
BY Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This book is near and dear to my heart because it’s the last book I read to my last class of students! When I read this book, it was just perfect because the author is wishing more of the good things in life. “I wish you more bubbles than bath…I wish you more hugs than ughs.” And the last line, “I wish all of this for you, because you are everything I could wish for….and more.” It’s just the way I felt about my amazing students. I’m not crying, you are!
GOODBYE SCHOOL by TONYA LIPPERT
This story is about a young girl named Franny who is moving to a new school and has to say goodbye. Franny is given time to walk through her school one last time. She says goodbye to her favorite chair, the window where she would watch for her parents at dismissal, the wall outside her classroom. She thinks of a way to say goodbye to her classmates when they’ll come back in the next day.
This book is written by a developmental psychologist and social workers. There is even a section in the back aimed at parents with tips on how to help children through situations such as this.
EXTENSION: I love how Franny goes to different parts of her school and shares memories that happened there. You can ask students to look around the classroom and playground, and try to think of a specific time and share with the class. This can be made into a class book as well.
GOODBYE, FRIEND! HELLO, FRIEND! BY CORI DOERRFELD
This is an adorable book that teaches children the old expression, when one door closes another one opens. It is essentially a pattern book, every goodbye leads to a hello. At the end of the book, it does acknowledge that some goodbyes are really hard such as a best friend moving away.
Extension Idea: Have students create their own Goodbye, Hello pattern page. The book does give a couple of examples that are related to school.
PAPER PLANES BY JIM HELMORE
This is the story about best friends Mia and Ben whose favorite thing to do together is make paper planes. One day Ben finds out that his family is going to be moving to a new home far away. Mia and Ben work through difficult emotions such as grief and anger, but in the end find a way to still keep their friendship alive.
While it makes a great end-of-the-year read-aloud, it could also be used for a social-emotional lesson.
TEN BEAUTIFUL THINGS BY MOLLY BETH GRIFFIN
This one is such a beautiful and heartwarming story. For reasons that are not discussed in the text Lily and her Grandmother are moving far away. The story takes place during the road trip to the new home. To help Lily during the drive her Gram suggests that they find ten beautiful things along the way.
Extension Idea: Have students come up with ten beautiful things about the end of school or summer vacation.
GROWING SEASON BY MARYANN COCCA-LEFFLER
El and Jo are the smallest students in their class and best friends. Soon Jo hits a growth spurt and is taller than El! This causes El to feel different from her friend and she no longer likes being the only short one.
On the last day of school their teacher gives them a flower to take care of over the summer. El gets stuck with the smallest plant that has no flowers on it. Jo decides to give El her plant to take care of as she’ll be going on vacation. While the flowers are slowly growing so does El.
This is a book most students will be able to relate to. If you teach Kindergarten or First grade you will know that being ‘little’ is a source of frustration for some students.
AND THEN COMES SUMMER BY TOM BRENNER
This book is a celebration of all things summer and a perfect end of the year read-aloud! The opening pages describe all the signs that summer has arrived. The rest of the book highlights big and small activities that typically take place over the summer. It also has a (When, Then) pattern to the pages similar to Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!
Extension Idea: The writing topics for this book are endless! I have a few prompts in my June/July Writing Prompts and Journal set that would work really well for this! You could also have the students make a Summer poster and decorate it with their favorite things about the season.
GOLDFISH ON VACATION BY SALLY LLOYD-JONES
One of my favorite things about this vacation book is the children don’t actually go on vacation! Many students don’t get the opportunity to travel or take a vacation during the summer even though it’s portrayed as the norm in their stories. This book focuses on three children (and their three goldfish) who live in a big city and are spending their summer at home.
One day a sign appears on the city fountain that it will be transformed into a summer home for goldfish. Their goldfish will soon be going on a vacation! The children in the neighborhood wait and watch as one man works hard to clean up the fountain. The fountain becomes a place where all the children in the neighborhood meet up and spend their summer.
Surprisingly, this book is based on historical events. The fountain in the story is Hamilton Fountain in New York City. Every summer the fountain is filled with lily pads and goldfish.
THERE MIGHT BE LOBSTERS BY CAROLYN CRIMI
This book has it all! It’s set over summer vacation and it’s all about overcoming fear. Eleanor and her dog Sukie are on vacation at the beach. Eleanor is excited but Sukie is not. Sukie is afraid to try new things because…there might be lobsters! Every time Eleanor tries a new activity Sukie can only think about all the things that might go wrong. Sukie does eventually overcome her fears.
Extension Idea: This story can be read at the beginning of a new school year as well and used as a time capsule activity. Students can write about one thing that makes them nervous about school. Keep the pages and then pass them back out during the end of the school year.
DEAR MR. BLUEBERRY BY SIMON JAMES
This book is told through the letters that a young girl Emily writes to her teacher, Mr. Blueberry, over the summer. Emily is a very imaginative and curious child who thinks she sees a whale in her pond. She writes to Mr. Blueberry for more information about whales.
I love that this book encourages students to continue to learn and be curious over the summer months. If you do have your students write a letter anytime over the school year, it also makes for a great mentor text.
MRS. SPITZER’S GARDEN BY EDITH PATTOU
This end-of-the-year read-aloud is a bit unusual as it shares the story of a teacher on vacation. At the end of the school year, Mrs. Spitzer is given a packet of seeds. Mrs. Spitzer plants the seeds and over the summer works hard to take care of the plants. It’s very obvious that the plants are symbolically representing the relationship between a teacher and her students. It’s done really well and is a beautiful story.
I hope you found a new End of the Year read-aloud or two to use in your classroom! What other books do you know? Did I miss your favorite? Let me know below!
If you are looking for more ways to celebrate the end of the year, I have a blog post sharing fun ways to end the school year with a bang. One way to celebrate is to make a class book or slideshow where each student can create a page. I have a FREE template that you can use below!