Back to School Book List

spy school

You would think after all of my first days of school that I would not get that sinking feeling in my stomach when it is time to begin the school year again; I should be a first day of school expert. But I get the dark, scary feeling. Every year. My back-to-school-blues started about a week ago when we arrived home from our mini family vacation, and the box with the uniform shirts I had ordered for Mr. Star Wars was on the front porch.

Because so many of us experience the same emotions on the first day of school, there are a lot of good chapter books about starting school. And, it does not matter if you are returning to the same school or starting a new school altogether. We all get nervous. Reading about a character who has the same worries you do helps make the transition to the new classroom a little easier. Is there somebody at your house worried about your first day of school? Try a few of these titles to help ease the anxiety.

fourteenth goldfish

  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
  • Julia and the Art of Practical Travel by Lesley M. M. Blume (at the end)
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
  • Superfudge by Judy Blume (beware the Santa Claus reveal)
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (April character)
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
  • Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
  • Midnight for Charlie Bone Jenny Nimmo
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett (Sherlock Files series)
  • Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
  • The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (the grandfather)
  • Maggie Malone and the Mostly Magical Boots by Jenna McCarthy and Carolyn Evans
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Tarantula Shoes by Tom Birdseye
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (Jessica character)
  • Knightly Academy by Violet Haberdasher


Teacher Emergency Kit Giveaway Winner

BTS teacher kit giveaway winner 2015

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway for two Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits.

Congratulations to the winner, Laura S! Laura, please look for an e-mail from me, so I can get your kits in the mail to you promptly.

For those who did not win, it is easy to make your own Teacher Emergency Kits. Find a small zippered bag (like a cosmetics bag), a little box with compartments (like a bead box from Michael’s Crafts), or a simple gift bag and fill with items that would be helpful to have in your desk or bag that would not be readily available at school.

  • travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • aspirin
  • mints
  • dental floss
  • cough drops
  • Sharpie pen
  • safety pins
  • travel comb
  • chapstick
  • quarters (for the soda machine)
  • hair ties or clips
  • Band-aids
  • Tide to go stick
  • travel sized hand lotion
  • Smart phone charger

2015 Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit Giveaway

teacher emergency kit giveaway 2 bagsOne Lucky Winner Will Receive TWO Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits!

I am giving away two (2) Teacher Emergency Kits to one (1) lucky winner! You can keep one kit and give one to a teacher friend (or make two teachers, friends, co-workers, neighbors… super happy and give both as gifts). Click HERE to enter. Giveaway ends this Friday, July 31 at midnight (EST). Shipping addresses must be within the USA or Canada.

Winner will receive 2 cloth pouches and emergency kit contents. Each kit contains a $10 Starbucks giftcard, travel sized sewing kit, travel sized Aquaphor, travel sized Advil, Band-aids, and peppermints. See this BLOG POST for more details about the Teacher Emergency Kits.

teacher emergency kit giveaway full viewClick this RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY LINK and follow me on various social media and/or comment on this blog post to be entered to win!

teacher emergency kit giveaway open bag

Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit 2015


It is finished. This year’s version of the Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit. It is my favorite first day of school gift to a teacher. This year’s emergency kit pouch is smaller than my past choices, so I will not be able to add a bottle of wine, which is probably what my children’s teachers really want after the first day of school. But, it is a handy little back to school teacher gift to store in a desk or teacher bag for daily emergencies.


The Teacher Emergency Kit Cloth Pouch

  • If you sew, you can download the Loyalty Card Holder Pattern for free from Craftsy. You will need to register on the site before downloading the pattern. I followed the directions on the Lemon Squeezy Home site. Lemon Squeezy’s sewing skills are clearly superior to mine. After much cursing and ripping out of stitches, I did make all of the bags I needed. I am trying to ignore some of the wrinkly parts in the corners.

teacher emergency kit

  • Lemon Squeezy used a magnetic snap, but I opted for an old fashioned button because I thought it would be a good decorative detail. After messing up multiple button holes, I was rethinking the magnetic snap decision. I think both options would have provided equal frustrations for my sewing abilities. The buttons do look prettier, so the buttons were probably a better choice for me in the end.

teacher emergency kit with contents

The Teacher Emergency Kit Contents

  • Starbucks giftcard (The little bag is credit card size, so I figured it needed a coffee gift card. It’s what I would want.)
  • travel sized sewing kit
  • Band-aids
  • individually wrapped mints
  • Aquaphor (or any kind of chapstick)
  • travel sized Advil (In the past, I included individual Tylenol, Advil, and Tums in mini baggies with printed labels. I had “people” who clearly did not appreciate the cuteness of my packaging get all up in arms about my redistribution of the pills. I really don’t think the Advil police will come after me, but I went ahead and used untampered Advil to avoid any future problems.)

teacher emergency kit interior

Other Content Ideas

  • 4 quarters for soda money
  • safety pins
  • Tide to go stain remover stick
  • cough drops
  • Sharpie pen
  • travel sized hand lotion
  • travel sized Windex Wipes for Electronics (found these one time at Target)
  • travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • hair clip, hair tie, or rubberband
  • smartphone charger
  • ear buds

teacher emergency kit 2015

Other Packaging Ideas

  • Use a bead box from a store like Michael’s Crafts. Sew a potholder clutch or foldover cloth bag. Pick up a small cosmetics bag; I saw some in the bins near the door at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Fill a simple paper gift bag. Click on the images below to read about other versions of the Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits!

Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit

teacher emergency kit filled and gift tags

teacher emergency kit contents view

Click HERE to read about the GIVEAWAY to win two of these kits. Giveaway ends 7/31/15.

My Favorite Back to School Equipment

Today is the big day– our first day of school. On the homefront, getting ready has been easier than anticipated. Our school provides supplies, so I did not have to shop for notebooks, pencils, glue, tissue, or wipes. My kids wear uniforms, so I ordered online in bulk last month. And, we did not need new bookbags, water bottles, or lunchboxes because I splurged a few years ago for some higher end items that are built to last. If only setting up my classroom had been this easy…

planetbox lunchbox

The PlanetBox Lunch System

  • I eat lunch alongside my students, and a couple of years ago, I noticed a few of my students had a lunch carry case with a metal tray inside that looked like an army (prison?) lunch tray with divided sections. The tray had an attached lid that clipped closed and fit inside a thermal carrier. There were pockets on the outside that had room for a juice pouch or small water bottle. I loved this lunch bag. I had to have it for my own children.

planetbox lunchbox exterior

  • The lid for the metal food tray stays attached, so I do not have to scramble to find lids in the morning, which I think is the benefit to this product over other bento style lunch boxes. We (and by “we” I really mean TheRoomDad) fill each compartment in the tray and clip the lid closed. We have not had to buy lunch baggies or mess with smaller lunch tupperware containers since we started using the PlanetBox.
  • The metal tray is dishwasher safe. The kids empty any leftover lunch bits and drop the tray in the dishwasher when we get home. I just have to remember to run the dishwasher at night. It dries completely unlike the tupperware that is perpetually wet after a dishwasher cycle.

planetbox lunchbox open

  • Place a flat icy pack on the bottom of the carry case under the tray to keep the food cool. You can purchase special icy packs from PlanetBox, but my Blue Ice packs work just as well.
  • There are a variety of sizes available; my children have The Rover. I do need to cut crusts off the bread to fit a whole sandwich in the large compartment. We also avoid anything juicy (like cut strawberries) that will drip and  leak.

LL Bean backpack

L.L. Bean Original Plus Book Pack

  • Three years ago when Mr. Star Wars started 1st grade, we bought the bigger L.L. Bean backpack with the water bottle pocket on the side and added his name for ID purposes.
  • The bag has a variety of pouch sizes for pencils, pens, and books. It also has little secret places, which are great for hiding cash or checks when I have to send field trip money to school.
  • The bag is easy to clean, and I have not had any zipper problems. The nice thing about L.L. Bean is that they will replace the bag if we ever do have problems with it.

camelbak water bottles

Camelbak Insulated Water Bottle

  • It is double insulated like a Tervis tumbler, so it does not sweat while sitting on a desk (very important to teachers).
  • The drinking spout can be pushed down to close the water bottle.
  • The lid has not started leaking yet.
  • I can detach the straw.
  • It is dishwasher safe.

What are essential school supplies in your house and is the brand important?

P.S. Teacher friends, there is a one day sale at TeacherPayTeachers Wednesday, August 20, 2014. Use code BOOST to save up to 28% off your purchases. Start your shopping by visiting This InLinkz Link-up to see some favorite upper elementary teaching resources.