18 Favorite Picture Books for Principal Read-Alouds

Reading aloud to kids gets you in every classroom with purpose.

Picture books are one of the most effective and engaging ways to teach valuable life lessons and shape your school culture. And reading aloud to kids is a surefire way for principals to make a difference every day or each week. Grab a few of these impactful stories and make the rounds.

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Managing Emotions

1. The Bad Seed by Jory John

Picture Books for Principals

The main character of this story is not exactly easy to be around. He’s ill-mannered, hot-headed and has a dismal attitude. However, in the end he learns that a change for the better is possible for anyone who tries.

2. Even Superheroes Have Bad Days
by Shelly Becker

Picture Books for Principals

Little kids are often overwhelmed by strong emotions. This story helps them see that they’re not alone and that everyone has a bad day now and then. 

3. Millie Fierce by Jane Manning

picture books for principals

This story is perfect for talking about the difference between positive and negative ways to get attention. When Millie feels overlooked, she decides a personality change is in order and becomes fierce. But when she realizes her actions have consequences, she reverts back to her kind self. 

The Importance of Friendship

4. Sticks by Diane Alber

When Popsicle accidentally melts, he transforms into a whole new person. Unsure of where he fits in, his friends help him see that he still belongs. A heartwarming story about finding your place in the world.

5. Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu

Picture Books for Principals

When a baby hippo loses her mother, she finds a new best friend to bond with. A delightful true story, written by a six-year-old girl and her father, about how sometimes we find friends where we least expect to. 

6. Farfallina and Marcel by Holly Keller

Farfallina is a caterpillar, and Marcel is a baby goose. Despite their differences they become fast friends and endure the inevitable changes that every worthwhile relationship experiences. 

Fostering Kindness

7. Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed

10-year-old Lina learns a valuable lesson when she shares what little she has with a friend and learns that friendship is more important than any material thing. 

8. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson

Picture Books for Principals

Ordinary Mary is nobody special, really. Or so she thinks. A sweet story about a random act of kindness and the chain reaction that follows. A perfect story for teaching kids that small acts of compassion really can change the world. 

9. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Picture Books for Principals

This beautiful tale is about a boy who doesn’t fit in but makes a new friend by including the new kid. A heartwarming story that shows how the power of kindness can bring out the best in everyone. 

Dealing with Friendship Problems

10. Iris and Isaac by Catherine Rayner

Picture Books for Principals

A touching story about friends at odds and the importance of forgiveness. When two polar bear best friends get in a fight, they go their separate ways. But they soon discover that adventures are just not as fun without each other. 

11. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

picture books for principals

This beautifully illustrated story conveys a strong anti-bullying message. A group of friends learns the consequences of excluding a classmate and realize, in the end, that each kindness really does make the world a little better. 

12. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Picture Books for Principals

A clever dad teaches his son an important lesson about dealing with conflict by bringing him together with his arch enemy. A funny tale to read to help kids think twice about making judgements.  

Celebrating Differences

13. The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio 

Picture Books for Principals

Two best friends squabble over a sandwich and exchange a few unkind words. But in the end, they learn that their differences are one of the best things about their friendship. A story about seeing things through others’ eyes.

14. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Picture Books for Principals

Particularly relevant today, this story is a celebration of diversity. Kids from all walks of life come to school and learn and grow from one another. A fine story to read to create a community of belonging. 

15. Different Just Like Me by Lori Mitchell

Picture Books for Principals

When April runs errands with her mother, she sees many people who at first glance are very different from her. But when she takes a closer look, she realizes that they’re not so different after all. A sweet story that helps kids realize how much we all have in common.

Building Grit

16. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Picture Books for Principals

When a little boy who loves to draw receives criticism, he begins to doubt himself. But he soon realizes, with his little sister’s help, that just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it can’t be celebrated. An engaging tale to talk about growth mindset.

17. Imani’s Moon by Janay Brown-Wood

Imani, a young Masai girl, has a big dream: She wants to touch the moon. Despite being teased by her doubtful friends, she believes in herself and perseveres. 

18. Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Native American girl Jenna wants to dance in her family’s next powwow but has to scramble to assemble her dress in time. Because without jingles, how will her dress sing?

Do you have a favorite picture book you like to read aloud to your students? Come share in our Principal Life Facebook group. 

Also, check out 6 Picture Books About Mental Health That Principals Can Read to Kids .

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.

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