I’ve been teaching for six years and I can tell you- I have plenty of coffee mugs, lotion, candles, and desk accessories! Although I am always truly grateful for any gifts that come from students and families at the holidays or the end of the year, and appreciate the spirit in which they are given, there is one thing that would actually make me happier than any of the generic “gifts” that I often receive- children’s books!
It may or may not be a surprise to you that most classroom libraries are completely stocked with books bought by teachers. Over the course of my career, I’ve spent thousands of dollars purchasing books for my students to read at school. I use scholastic book club bonus points, of course, and troll tag sales and used bookstores for good finds. Often parents give gift cards to bookstores or amazon as teacher gifts, and those are really appreciated, because I can use them to find new books for the classroom. This year, if you’d like to give something that your child’s teacher will love and cherish, and that will even benefit the current and future children in the class, consider gifting a quality children’s book, perhaps with a nameplate or personal note in the cover from you and your child!
If this sounds like a great idea, but you have no idea what your child’s teacher would like, you’re in luck! Here are some suggestions,
*Note: all of the following titles and book covers are amazon affiliate links, meaning that if you click on one and choose to purchase, I will get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you (which I will probably use to buy more books for my classroom library!) For more information about this program, click here.*
The Perfect Books for Teacher Gifts
Beautiful, lyrical books that will inspire them
These selections would make a gorgeous addition to any classroom library or read-aloud collection. They have lyrical prose and beautiful messages that uplift and inspire the same way your child’s teacher inspired them.
When I read this book to my own children, they’ll usually listen to it at least three times in a row. The text is poetic, and talks about light’s effect on nature (it sips the sea to make the rain which waters wheat to grow the grain). It ends with “the light is you, and you are light”. Even better than the text is the colored circles, which are actually translucent plastic. There are three circles on each page of each color, so as you turn the pages, they start to blend together to make the whole color wheel on the first and last page. It’s hard to describe but absolutely stunning. We always read it in front of a sunny window and the effect is mesmerizing. Any teacher would love it.
This one is also on our list of favorite bedtime stories because of it’s gorgeous, lyrical prose. It’s more of a poem than a story, although it loosely follows a few groups of people around an island on a summer’s day. The illustrations are soothing and the last lines are perfect; “Hope and peace and love and trust… all the world is all of us”
Beautiful books that teach social skills
Does your child’s teacher do an amazing job at creating a calm and peaceful classroom environment, or a community that celebrates kindness? Then they will definitely appreciate one of these gorgeous selections.
This one teaches children to be kind, to be present, and to let their worries go. The watercolor illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds complement the text to make this a lovely and useful book for any classroom.
In this book, the color red bullies the color blue and the rest of the colors are too scared to do anything about it… until the number one arrives and stops red’s bullying with peaceful empathy. It has a great message of acceptance for young children, and again, the watercolor illustrations make this a gem for any collection.
In this story, Violet is always the best at everything in the class, and Rosie is the only one not impressed- but when Violet has to be home sick for several weeks, Rosie waters Violet’s plant as well as her own and the whole class is impressed by how they shine. I love this one as a teacher gift because of how it depicts Ms. Willis. You can tell that even though the other children are only interested in what Violet’s up to, Ms. Willis has been noticing Rosie all along, and at the end she brings the class’s attention to what Rosie has done. The last line of the book is “Mr. Willis looked at Rosie. Rosie looked at Ms. Willis. And they smiled.” If you have a shy child that quietly blossomed under a caring teacher, this book would be a perfect way to show your gratitude!
Books that Celebrate Teachers
Often, teachers have to work incredibly hard to do amazing things, and sometimes the children in their classes are too busy with their own agendas to notice. These books celebrate amazing teachers!
This one is an old classic, but still relevant today! The kids in Miss Nelson’s class are always misbehaving, until one day their teacher disappears and the evil substitute Viola Swamp takes over. When Miss Nelson finally returns at the end, they’ve learned to appreciate her! If your child’s teacher struggled with a tough class this year and hasn’t been appreciated, this might be a great one to show you understand!
Lilly adores her teacher… until she can’t stop playing with her new plastic purse in school and he takes it away. In anger, she writes him a mean note, but when he’s understanding, she ends up feeling “very very very very sorry”. The teacher in this story is depicted as incredibly awesome and cool, and once again, Lilly really learns to appreciate him in the end. If your child made some mistakes in school that were met with understanding and kindness, this might be the book for you. As a bonus, it’s totally hilarious!
For another Kevin Henkes book where a teacher stops bullying with kindness and understanding, check out Chrysanthemum!
In all honesty, it’s actually a classmate that helps Ralph overcome his writer’s block at the end of this story and become a prolific writer, but I’m including it because the teacher in this book has such beautiful enthusiasm for stories and writing. If your child’s school used writer’s workshop, and your child blossomed as a writer throughout the year, this would be a great way to show your appreciation!
This book lists all of the reasons that a teacher would make a good president, and is a great way to show your gratitude for what teachers do every day! As an added bonus, you could have your child write (or dictate) a letter about why their own teacher would make a great president as well!
Books that Celebrate School and Learning
What makes these books better teacher gifts than another mug full of chocolates? Your child’s teacher will definitely use them over and over to inspire new classes of children!
This book is a step-by-step guide to becoming an avid reader! It includes tips like “find a buddy” and “make sure to do the character’s voices”, with fun illustrations throughout. If your child’s teacher really inspired them to love reading, this one’s for you!
With a sweet little bird as his patient teacher, Rocket the dog goes from not being interested in reading at all, to learning his letters, and then putting them together into words! This book is a charming celebration of the process of learning to read. It would be especially wonderful for a preschool, kindergarten or first grade teacher. If your child’s teacher is more into writing, there’s a sequel, Rocket Writes a Story.
In this book, a little girl is hard at work inventing something. It doesn’t come out quiet right at first, but she keeps trying until she’s made “the most magnificent thing”. If your child’s teacher did an amazing job nurturing their creativity, this would be a perfect book to show that you noticed!
Books about a Specific Topic
Did your child’s teacher help them develop or expand on a particular interest? Thanks to them, is your child now wandering around spouting off facts about panda bears, gravity, rainbows or some other cool topic? You could show your gratitude with a nice quality book on that topic, which will definitely become a treasured addition in their classroom library, and is likely to remind them of your child and their interest every time they see it! Here are a few of my favorite suggestions;
If your child loves space.
If you’re raising a history buff.
If your child thinks chemistry is totally cool!
For more information about these and more amazing book ideas on other topics, check out my list of EPIC Nonfiction Books for Older Kids!
Books for the Teacher
If you’d rather not give a book that your child’s teacher will just give to children, you could try one of these books, which are actually written for adults to enjoy!
About once a year, when I start to get tired or frustrated or burned out from the pressures of teaching, I head over to youtube and watch Taylor Mali’s spoken word performance of “What Teacher’s Make” (check it out here.) and it never fails to rejuvenate me. The book version is guaranteed to have the same effect on your child’s teacher, and show how much you understand the importance of the work they do!
This book is the most real, on-point, and hilarious description of what being a teacher is really like I’ve ever seen! Philip Done has so many observations of the ridiculous things that all teachers know to be true (like, “Why don’t they ever listen when I’m explaining important directions, but they all manage to hear just fine when I whisper into the librarian’s ear why I have a headache today?”) Your child’s teacher will read it over and over, and laugh out loud every time. Trust me!
Will you choose a book as a gift for your child’s teacher? Leave a comment and let me know!
If you’d like more tips from a teacher, make sure to check out Organize your playroom like a teacher (and get your kids to clean up like they do at school!) and A Beginner’s Guide to Encouraging Creativity and Having More FUN with Your Kids!
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