As we get ready to end the school year, reading a book on the last day of school is a great way to leave students with a positive thought and a wonderful memory.
As my fifth graders get ready to leave our school and start their new ventures as middle school students, I like to share stories with them that include messages of hope and self-love.
Here are a few end of the school year books that you can share with your upper elementary students as you say farewell to them this year.
Amazon affiliate links are included in this post, but as always, you can find some of these as read alouds online, or you can check them out from your school or local library.
Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds
Be You! is a beautiful story that allows students to know that you wish for them to always be themselves no matter where their journey takes them.
This is definitely one of those books I wish I could buy a copy of for each of my students and wish I could write a dedication inside it to them. I feel like it really mentions all the wishes we have for our students as they leave us, particularly for those heading out to middle school. It ends by saying that they are loved and ready. It's just SO perfect!
I also love the fact that you can watch Peter H. Reynolds read the book himself on YouTube. It's helpful if you are an emotional person who may want to share this message with students, but fear you may not get through the book without crying as I probably would.
A great extension activity would be to have the students create a self-portrait and have their classmates write the qualities that they will remember most about them around their self-portrait or picture.
Only One You by Linda Kranz
I absolutely adore this book for several reasons. First of all, the illustrations are extremely eye-catching. Secondly, the messages shared throughout this book are perfect for students getting ready to explore a whole new world.
A wonderful last day of school (or last week of school) activity would be to have students actually paint rocks as fish. They would make a beautiful keepsake as a reminder to go out into the world without fear of being of themselves.
If painting rocks seems a bit overwhelming for the last week of school, you can always give students some construction paper and have them make their own unique fish out of paper. A beautiful keepsake would be to have their classmates sign the back and add the date of the last day of school to it.
You Be You by Linda Kranz
If you liked the Only One You by Linda Kranz, you can check out her follow up book titled You Be You which has a similar message. It's another great alternative that you can also share with your upper elementary students and works just as well with the follow up activity mentioned in Only One You.
You by Sandra Magsamen
This book is a quick read that encourages students to be grateful, curious, persistent, and most importantly... themselves.
At this time, we are currently under quarantine and Sandra Magsamen has posted a reading of the book on YouTube and shares some extension activities students can do including posting hearts and thank you notes for postal workers outside of your home.
It's a beautiful book to share during the last week of the school year.
In going with the theme of the "heart," a nice extension activity would be to have students create hearts and write thank you notes inside of them to send to the office staff, administration, media specialist, school nurse, cafeteria personnel, special areas teachers, security guards, crossing guards, and other members of your school community thanking them for assisting in making it the best school year they could for the students.
Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg
If you want to end the year on a lighter note and have the students giggle, you may want to share Last Day Blues.
It begins by discussing all the things the teacher and students will miss about school. The students brainstorm ideas on something they can give to the teacher before they leave for summer break in order to cheer her up. Spoiler Alert: The come up with the perfect gift. However, although she is so sad to see them go, the book ends with the teachers at school making a conga line as they head into summer.
While you're at it, if you are interested in seeing the list of Back to School books with extension activities, head on over to "Great Back to School Read Alouds for Upper Elementary" to check them out.