29 of the Best Books About Awesome Teachers

Updated Feb. 12, 2019

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.

Wonder book
#1
Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

Thank You, Mr. Falker book
#2
Thank You, Mr. Falker
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

The Art of Miss Chew book
#3
The Art of Miss Chew
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

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.

The Dot book
#4
The Dot
Written and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

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.

The Spelling Bee Before Recess book
#5
The Spelling Bee Before Recess
Written by Deborah Lee Rose and illustrated by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

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.

Miss Nelson is Missing! book
#6
Miss Nelson is Missing!
Written by Harry G Allard Jr and illustrated by James Marshall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

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!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse book
#7
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Yoko book
#8
Yoko
Written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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.

Willow book
#9
Willow
Written by Rosemarie Brennan, Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Cyd Moore
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from 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.

In Miss Hawthorn's art class, neatness, conformity, and imitation are encouraged, but when Willow brings imagination and creativity to her projects, even straight-laced Miss Hawthorn is influenced.

Chrysanthemum book
#10
Chrysanthemum
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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....

Mister Lincoln's Way book
#11
Mister Lincoln's Way
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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.

Ben Draws Trouble book
#12
Ben Draws Trouble
Written and illustrated by Matt Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

Not This Bear book
#13
Not This Bear
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Lorna Hussey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

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.

Mae's First Day of School book
#14
Mae's First Day of School
Written and illustrated by Kate Berube
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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 book
#15
Each Kindness
Written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

Dotty book
#16
Dotty
Written by Erica S Perl and illustrated by Julia Denos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

My Friends book
#17
My Friends
Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Using simple words and bright illustrations, author-illustrator Taro Gomi shows children that sometimes knowledge can come from all kinds of friends.

Catch That Cookie! book
#18
Catch That Cookie!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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 book
#19
How to Grow a Friend
Written and illustrated by Sara Gillingham
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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.

Yellow Copter book
#20
Yellow Copter
Written by Kersten Hamilton and illustrated by Valeria Petrone
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

Lion Lessons book
#21
Lion Lessons
Written and illustrated by Jon Agee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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).

A Piece of Home book
#22
A Piece of Home
Written by Jeri Watts and illustrated by Hyewon Yum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

"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.

Islandborn book
#23
Islandborn
Written by Junot Diaz and illustrated by Leo Espinosa
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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

Because of Mister Terupt book
#24
Because of Mister Terupt
Written and illustrated by Rob Buyea
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Seven fifth-graders at Snow Hill School in Connecticut relate how their lives are changed for the better by "rookie teacher" Mr. Terupt.

Ramona the Pest book
#25
Ramona the Pest
Written by Beverly Cleary and illustrated by Louis Darling, Jacqueline Rogers
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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!

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!