As we gather in our last community circle of the year, I pull out I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and read it to my attentive and quiet audience. “There are many things that I wish for you,” I tell them as I close the book, “not just for the summer but for the many years ahead of you. I wish you fun and friends and adventures. I wish that you will come back to visit as often as you can. I also wish you lots of good books!” Even at this young age, they almost sigh and roll their eyes at my predictable comment about books. “It’s your turn to share if you have a wish for yourself or your classmates.”
And so, we end the year the same way we started it: with a book. My list of read alouds to start the year in September is a long one. I have many favorites that I use to help create the community in my classroom, books that we read, reread, discuss and refer to throughout the year.
But ending the year is different. These aren’t books that we will discuss to create our community; rather, we’ll use them to say goodbye to it. And they aren’t books that I’ll get the chance to reread, revisit, and refer to, since the students will be moving on to summer and the next grade.
Although it’s common for me to go through my cupboards and pull out a large stack of unread favorites and read them all to my students in the last weeks of the school year, telling them, “You can’t leave my class without having heard this story!” I also want to have a few books that are specific to the class and to saying goodbye. Each year my stack of books for the last few days of read aloud varies slightly, but I try to be sure to include books that offer reflection, closure, and fun.
Read Alouds for Reflection
I love to revisit books from September that helped us define our community. It’s fun to hear what students have to say about them after a year of reading, talking, and being together in the same classroom.
Going Places by Peter Reynolds. This book invited students to observe a student who “thought outside the box” and had great success. I use this book to encourage slowing down and creative thinking. At the end of the year, they often notice the biomimicry that the character engages in.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. This is a great book to introduce the idea that although not everything we do in our class is going to be easy, and we may not find success the first time around, with help from a buddy and a little space we should keep trying.
Stars by Marla Frazee. We enjoyed this book at the beginning of the year and made a bulletin board focusing on the quote on the inside flap: “Stars are everywhere, not just in the sky.” We remember what we wrote on our stars at the beginning of the year and think of new things we might write.
Read Alouds for Fun
These are the books that make us laugh. These new books are fun to read! They give us time to laugh together, and ideally the stories will inspire backyard and/or creative summer play.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex. Kids love the game Rock, Paper, Scissors, and love the humor in this explanation of the game. It makes us wonder what game pieces from other games might say!
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee. This might be one of my all-time very favorite books. I love to read this and laugh with the kids about Jameon’s adventures, and of course, the illustrations are amazing.
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires. This is a new one that I hope will inspire kids to enjoy their backyard and to keep trying when they encounter hard tasks.
The Magic Word by Mac Barnett. My students find this book to be absolutely hilarious. They must love the idea that the main character can wish adults away. I love reading this to my class because they love hearing it!
Read Alouds for Closure
These are the books that invite specific conversations. I like to have a few books that look to the future and offer a concrete conversation starter for our last community circle. It’s easy to create a thinking stem from any of these books for students to complete as our last share of the year.
Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood. I love the simple text and pictures in the book that help convey the feeling of saying goodbye to a loved place but eventually finding that a new home can be exciting too. I read this when students in the class move away, but it works well for the end of the year also.
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon. I don’t think this book can be read too many times. I just love the message, the rhythm of the text, and the pictures. The bulletin board outside my room reflects this book, and it’s great to revisit as a goodbye to the class.
I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This is a great book that gives a natural sentence starter for an end-of-year share.