Some of our most formative years are spent in classrooms, giving teachers ample opportunity to influence young minds. While certainly not all teachers are created equal, there are so many truly amazing teachers out there who care about their students—their minds, their goals, their failures, and their successes. I still remember many of my teachers and the impact they had on me. My first grade teacher who loved to read, my third grade reading teacher who had us start off each lesson with a jingle, my fourth grade teacher who used a soft orange ball to quiz us on math, a fifth grade teacher who motivated us to learn even more in our free time rather than goof off, a seventh grade teacher who genuinely apologized to me after I brought something he’d said I found offensive to his attention and a gym teacher who offered me an opportunity to work at a sports camp for underprivileged children barely younger than me … the list goes on. In appreciation of the amazing teachers who help shape young minds, here are a few of our favorite books with some fabulous fictional (and not so fictional) teachers.
Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.
The real-life, classic story of a dyslexic girl and the teacher who would not let her fail. A perfect gift for teachers and for reading students of any age.
Patricia Polacco is now one of America’s most loved children’s book creators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha’s dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never forget him, and neither will we.
This inspiring story is available in a deluxe slipcased edition, complete with a personal letter to readers from Patricia Polacco herself. Thank You, Mr. Falker will make a beautiful gift for the special child who needs encouragement or any special teacher who has made a difference in the child’s life.
I love this book. The rhyme and vocabulary use are fantastic, and the lessons in this book are wonderful without being overly obvious or literal. I think it’s great that the main character SPOILER didn’t win the spelling bee, and that was ok. I also appreciated the encouragement the school librarian gives at the end of the book, adding a reminder on the importance of reading and that we can always keep trying. :) This book shows that winning isn’t everything, and that reading is one of the best things we can do. Plus, there’s a list of spelling words used throughout the book in the very back so that you can try spelling them yourself!
The students were squirming
but none made a sound,
as the spelling bee entered
its championship round.
It’s right before recess, and the annual school spelling bee is down to just three spellers: Cornelius the Genius, Smart Ruby, and The Slugger, who never strikes out. Round after round, the words whizz at them, but with one minute left until recess, there’s still no winner. Who will triumph? It all comes down to one final word, and a curveball that no one sees coming!
Deborah Lee Rose’s clever rhyming text packs a laugh-out-loud wallop with words that young readers will enjoy spelling and reading aloud again and again. Fun and whimsical illustrations by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis provide the perfect balance of humor and suspense as readers find out whether The Slugger will hit a grand slam or finally strike out.
The book includes three spelling lists that can be used for spelling bees at home, in school, at the library, or for community events. An author’s note describes why and how words were chosen.
This is a beautiful portrayal of several phenomenal teachers (contrasted with one not so amazing substitute) and the powerful impact they made in one little girl’s life. Patricia Polacco’s signature illustration style vividly tells this emotional story based on her own childhood and her own start as an artist. I love the personal attention and care both Mr. Donovan and Miss Chew give her in helping her overcome her struggles with reading and also excel at her passion—art.
After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She’s thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew’s special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she’s wasting time on art when she should be studying – but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for!
This true story shows just how important a teacher can be in a child’s life – and celebrates the power of art itself.
All about a little girl’s journey to discover her artistic talent but more especially her self-confidence! I love that after a little encouragement from her very wise and positive teacher, she takes it upon herself to pass along the lesson she learned to a little boy in her same predicament.
Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher’s encouragement leads her to change her mind.
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse - Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher, Mr. Slinger. But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse and its treasures to school and can’t wait until sharing time, Mr. Slinger confiscates her prized possessions. Lilly’s fury leads to revenge and then to remorse and she sets out to make amends. Lilly, the star of Chester’s Way and Julius, the Baby of the World, is back. And this time she has her name in the title - something she’s wanted all along. If you thought Lilly was funny before, you are in for a treat. So hurry up and start reading. Lilly can’t wait for you to find out more about her.
Chrysanthemum - She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….
Willow - The Book Snob Mom - This book is a reminder that sometimes it’s not the teachers who always have a profound impact on the students… sometimes it’s the other way around. Willow’s positivity, kindness and resilience despite continuous criticism from her art teacher allow her to break down barriers and touch her teacher’s heart, changing her for the better. The illustrations are bright and just the right amount messy… just like Willow herself.
Mister Lincoln's Way - When Mr. Lincoln, “the coolest principal in the whole world,” discovers that Eugene, the school bully, knows a lot about birds, he uses this interest to help Eugene overcome his intolerance.
Mmm, Yoko’s mom has packed her favorite for lunch today—sushi! But her classmates don’t think it looks quite so yummy. “Ick!” says one of the Franks. “It’s seaweed!” They’re not even impressed by her red bean ice cream dessert. Of course, Mrs. Jenkins has a plan that might solve Yoko’s problem. But will it work with the other children in class? Now in paperback for the first time, this tender story from Rosemary Wells demonstrates the author’s uncanny understanding of the pleasures and pains of an ordinary school day.
Ben loves to draw and does so in all of his classes, but his drawings of people are so good he is afraid to let his classmates see them, until the day he loses his notebook and his talent is revealed.
This is a delightfully fun book about one very clever teacher who uses a little bit of subterfuge to help her classroom of misbehaving students appreciate how lucky they actually are and learn to behave a lot better. The contrast between Miss Nelson and her “evil” substitute counterpart is humorous (particularly as the reader may suspect the truth long before the big reveal!)
The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school. So begins this quirky classic, first published in 1977 and still relevant today as a lighthearted reminder to show our appreciation to those we value. The students don’t proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways. James Marshall’s scritchy, cartoonish full-color ink and wash illustrations are hilarious. A back-to-school perennial!
It’s Bear’s first day of school, and he’s a bit reluctant to go. Mama says all bears love school; Bear isn’t so sure. But school turns out to be full of fun—painting pictures, listening to stories, and making new friends. Maybe this bear will like school after all.
The first day of school can be scary for everyone—not just the students. As Mae gets ready for her very first day, she reflects on all the things she’s afraid of. What if the other kids don’t like her? What if she can’t learn to read? What if she misses her mom? On the way to school, she decides that instead of facing all the unknowns, it would be much easier to climb up into her favorite tree and wait there until school is over. As other kids pass by, they, too, share their own fears with Mae, and she learns that everyone gets nervous about trying new things, even her teacher! Together, Mae and her new friends decide to face the day and celebrate new beginnings, hand in hand.
Each Kindness - WINNER OF A CORETTA SCOTT KING HONOR AND THE JANE ADDAMS PEACE AWARD! Each kindness makes the world a little better This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down. Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.
Because of Mr. Terupt - Seven students are about to have their lives changed by one amazing teacher in this school story sequel filled with unique characters every reader can relate to. It’s the start of a new year at Snow Hill School, and seven students find themselves thrown together in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class. There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school. They don’t have much in common, and they’ve never gotten along. Not until a certain new teacher arrives and helps them to find strength inside themselves—and in each other. But when Mr. Terupt suffers a terrible accident, will his students be able to remember the lessons he taught them? Or will their lives go back to the way they were before—before fifth grade and before Mr. Terupt? Find out what happens in sixth and seventh grades in Mr. Terupt Falls Again and Saving Mr. Terupt, the can’t-miss follow ups to Because of Mr. Terupt! “The characters are authentic and the short chapters are skillfully arranged to keep readers moving headlong toward the satisfying conclusion.”–School Library Journal, Starred
Fish in a Tree - “Fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.” —Kirkus Reviews Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike. The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in. This paperback edition includes The Sketchbook of Impossible Things and discussion questions. A New York Times Bestseller!
Matilda - From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG! Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
It’s Ida’s first day of school. She carries her new lunch box and a long, blue string with her special friend Dotty attached to it. A big, colorfully spotted pal with horns, Dotty just happens to be invisible. On that first day of school, Ida and Dotty find out there are plenty of other imaginary friends in attendance. But as the year passes and fewer and fewer imaginary friends come to class, Ida begins to wonder if Dotty is welcome at school anymore . . . Perceptive and warmly funny, with charming art from exciting illustrator Julia Denos, Dotty is a celebration of the power of friendship and imagination.
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns muchof value about the world he lives in.
Ramona is off to kindergarten, and it’s the greatest day of her life. So why is she sitting on the bench while the rest of the students play the game gray duck? Laughs and minor upsets abound in an enormously popular story starring the one and only Ramona Quimby!
Using simple words and bright illustrations, author-illustrator Taro Gomi shows children that sometimes knowledge can come from all kinds of friends.
Miles McHale is a tattletale. And everybody knows it. But he’s not the only one who needs help, so his teacher decides: it’s time to fight the Tattle Battle! But will Miles figure out the right time to tell a grown-up about another person’s behavior, or is he doomed to be a tattletale forever?
Catch That Cookie! - Solve the riddles to find the runaway gingerbread men in this funny and magical cookie hunt! Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can’t wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it’s time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they’re gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic. Catch That Cookie! is an imaginative mystery, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Small. It’s sure to inspire a new classroom tradition . . . and maybe even a few new believers!
How to Grow a Friend - A lovely metaphor teaches valuable lessons in how to treat others and make friendships blossom! Making a friend takes patience, care, and room to bloom—just like growing a flower. Soon your little gardeners will have their very own green thumbs for this most important of life skills.
The Tale of Tricky Fox - Tricky Fox uses his sack to trick everyone he meets into giving him ever more valuable items.
Yellow Copter - When a teacher gets stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel at the fair, cranes and planes can’t reach her. The only one who might have a chance is Yellow Copter! With a rollicking rhyme and candy-colored illustrations, this is the perfect read-aloud for any fan of machines that are big, make loud noises, or fly—or all three at once.
Andy and Sandy hit the stage in this fourth book of an easy-to-read picture book series about friendship—from Caldecott and Newbery Honoree Tomie dePaola and Emmy Award–winning writer for the Muppets Jim Lewis. Outgoing Sandy convinces shy Andy to do a dance at the big talent show. The only problem? Andy doesn’t know how to dance! Luckily, Sandy is a good teacher. But when showtime finally arrives, it’s Sandy who freezes up! A true friend through and through, Andy overcomes his shyness to save the performance. Let’s give a standing ovation to friendship! Written in simple words and short, declarative sentences, this book is perfect for little ones just learning to read on their own.
Bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning author Louis Sachar knows how to make readers laugh. And there are laughs galore in perennial favorite Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
Accidentally built sideways and standing thirty stories high (the builder said he was very sorry for the mistake), Wayside School has some of the wackiest classes in town, especially on the thirtieth floor. That’s where you’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; Myron, the best class president, ever; and Sammy, the new kid—he’s a real rat.
There are seven steps to becoming a proper lion, including Looking Fierce, Roaring, Prowling Around, and Pouncing. Our young hero, a rather meek and scrawny human boy, does his best to learn the necessary skills during his training with a master instructor (who just happens to be a real lion). After a grueling set of lessons, the boy discovers that that the final step—Looking Out for Your Friends—is the most important of all. That’s how any kid can earn his lion diploma (not to mention the affection of every cat in town).
“When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. His eyes are not big and round like his classmates, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says, even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly at him. As he lies in bed at night, the sky seems smaller and darker. But little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. And one day he is invited to a classmate’s house, where he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea, “mugunghwa,” or Rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him and Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a “piece of home” in their new garden.”—Provided by publisher.
Make up your own stories! Two clever (and wonderfully portable) books with pop-up play scenes and press-out pieces spark little ones’ imaginations. It’s time for school! Maisy and her friends play with building blocks, practice their counting, and sit down for storytime. A pop-up classroom scene waits at the end of the book with paper press-outs of Maisy and her pals. Kids will relish the chance to play teacher and decide the lessons, all the while putting their imaginations to the test and learning about the routines that make up a day at school.
Islandborn - Every kid in Lola’s school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. So when Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can’t remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.” Gloriously illustrated and lyrically written, Islandborn is a celebration of creativity, diversity, and our imagination’s boundless ability to connect us—to our families, to our past and to ourselves
The Unteachables - A hilarious new middle grade novel from beloved and bestselling author Gordan Korman about what happens when the worst class of kids in school is paired with the worst teacher—perfect for fans of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. The Unteachables are a notorious class of misfits, delinquents, and academic train wrecks. Like Aldo, with anger management issues; Parker, who can’t read; Kiana, who doesn’t even belong in the class—or any class; and Elaine (rhymes with pain). The Unteachables have been removed from the student body and isolated in room 117. Their teacher is Mr. Zachary Kermit, the most burned-out teacher in all of Greenwich. He was once a rising star, but his career was shattered by a cheating scandal that still haunts him. After years of phoning it in, he is finally one year away from early retirement. But the superintendent has his own plans to torpedo that idea—and it involves assigning Mr. Kermit to the Unteachables. The Unteachables never thought they’d find a teacher who had a worse attitude than they did. And Mr. Kermit never thought he would actually care about teaching again. Over the course of a school year, though, room 117 will experience mayhem, destruction—and maybe even a shot at redemption.
My Teacher Is A Monster (No, I Am Not.) - A young boy named Bobby has the worst teacher. She’s loud, she yells, and if you throw paper airplanes, she won’t allow you to enjoy recess. She is a monster! Luckily, Bobby can go to his favorite spot in the park on weekends to play. Until one day… he finds his teacher there! Over the course of one day, Bobby learns that monsters are not always what they seem. Each page is filled with “monstrous” details that will have kids reading the story again and again. Peter Brown takes a universal and timeless theme, and adds his own humorous spin to create another winner of a picture book.
A Whole New Ballgame - Rip and Red are best friends whose fifth-grade year is nothing like what they expected. They have a crazy new tattooed teacher named Mr. Acevedo, who doesn’t believe in tests or homework and who likes off-the-wall projects, the more “off” the better. They also find themselves with a new basketball coach: Mr. Acevedo! Easy-going Rip is knocked completely out of his comfort zone. And for Red, who has autism and really needs things to be exactly a certain way, the changes are even more of a struggle. But together these two make a great duo who know how to help each other—and find ways to make a difference—in the classroom and on the court. With its energetic and authentic story and artwork, this is a fresh, fun book about school, sports, and friendship.
A year they’ll never forget Ten-year-old Frederika (Fred for short) doesn’t have much faith that the new teacher in town will last very long. After all, they never do. Most teachers who come to their one-room schoolhouse in remote, Alaska leave at the first smell of fish, claiming that life there is just too hard. But Miss Agnes is different — she doesn’t get frustrated with her students, and she throws away old textbooks and reads Robin Hood instead! For the first time, Fred and her classmates begin to enjoy their lessons and learn to read and write — but will Miss Agnes be like all the rest and leave as quickly as she came?
When Ms. Alex is called away from the classroom, she leaves Yasmin in charge, but the other children just ignore her and start acting silly and noisy—until Yasmin thinks up a way to motivate them to finish the math assignment, quietly.
When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?
A lift-the-flap board book all about preschool from the creator of OPEN THE BARN DOOR and OPEN THE GARAGE DOOR! Little preschoolers will love lifting 11 fun flaps to find a smiling teacher, a playground, a class pet, and much, much more in this bright and engaging board book. With a simple story and colorful and inviting illustrations, this is the perfect way to introduce the youngest of students to a preschool classroom.
Nimoshom and His Bus introduces basic Cree words. Children riding the school bus learn from their driver, Nimoshom (“my grandfather”), who speaks to them in their own language—Cree. Nimoshom and His Bus is a welcoming, simple story with inviting illustrations
The Teacher's Pet - On the day the tadpoles hatch, the whole class is amazed—they’ve never seen their teacher so excited. Mr. Stricter has always wanted a pet, so he tells the students they can keep just one. The class chooses Bruno, the smallest of the bunch. But Bruno doesn’t stay small for long. Soon he’s grown into a giant, classroom-wrecking creature: He eats desks, farts for show-and-tell, and sneezes slime all over everything! Everyone can see that Bruno is trouble. Everyone except Mr. Stricter. With their teacher blinded by love for the pet, the students must step up and take matters into their own heroic hands.