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It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories From Around the World by Ellen Jackson is a favorite global read aloud to start the year.

Children from 11 different countries share what the first day of school is like for them.

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It’s Back to School We Go!

Anton, a seven-year-old boy from Kazakhstan, describes how his whole family walks him to school, buying flowers for his teacher at the bazaar on the way.

Rajani, an eight-year-old girl from India is excited to be starting grade three and takes the bus to school to find her new classroom.

Achieng, an eight-year-old girl from Kenya, explains how she sits on a straw mat as she learns how to read and write in Kiswahili.

It's Back to School We Go

Each two-page spread includes a first-person account of a child’s first day of school and general facts about children in that country.

The children start with a greeting in their language (Jambo, Konnichiwa), and then share information about their home, family and experiences of the day.

Discover how they get to school, what and how they learn, and activities they do after school. The fact page allows you to go further, learning additional cultural information including animals, sports, clothing, and food.

Before Reading

  • Ask students to share what their own first day of school experiences included, and how they felt.
  • Introduce the book or video, and invite students to listen to what the first day of school was like for other children around the world.

During Reading

  • Locate each country on a globe or world map. Use push pins or flags to keep track of each place throughout the book.
  • Practice and review basic geography skills by asking students to identify the continent each country is on or to answer questions such as, “From our home country, what direction would I need to go to get there?”

After Reading

  • Students work in small groups to create a Venn diagram comparing first day experiences from the book.
  • Make a class poster of words that mean”Hello” in other languages. Post it by the classroom door, and use it for personalized morning greetings. “Ni-hao, Kelsey. Privyet, Ryan.”
  • Students respond to the story in their writing journal with personal thoughts, opinions, favorites, questions, etc.

This video-reading of the book from Teacher Tube includes traditional background music for each country.

It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories From Around the World is a great book for practicing geography skills while discovering our similarities and learning about our differences.

Celebrate the diversity that makes our world unique and the commonalities that bring us together.It's Back to School We Go

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Related Resources

School Years Around the World Descriptions of the typical school year in 13 nations throughout the world.

What Schools Look Like in 20 Countries Around the World  A peek inside 20 classrooms, including Mosul, Iraq and Hoan Su Phi, Vietnam.

33 Eye-Opening Pictures of Classrooms Around the World More stunning back to school photos! 

School Days Around the World

A School Like Mine

School Around the World

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Find out how children all over the world go to school with the mentor text by Edith Baer, and enjoy our FREE classroom activity to learn how your students go to school.This is the Way We Go to School

4 Comments

  1. Jane the Rain City Librarian on August 9, 2016 at 10:08 am

    What a great title, and I really appreciate your suggested activities – it can be so helpful as an educator to hear other people’s thoughts on how to actually use a book with children, either in the classroom or in the library.

  2. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) on August 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    What a great book! Love how it focuses on so many different children and cultures too. Thanks for sharing with #diversekidlit!

  3. Mrs. Villamil on August 17, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks!!!

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