The New Kid

Kids who have moved understand what it’s like being the new kid in the class, or in the neighborhood. But even kids who have never moved experience new kid anxieties at the beginning of every school year. They are in a new grade, have new teachers, and they may face new subject areas. Those who move from elementary to middle school, or middle school to high school feel a bit like a fish out of water as they adjust to a new environment. Sharing books is a unifying experience, and may do a lot to relax new kid fears. Allow time on the first day for kids to share a book they’ve read. Then tell them that you are going to introduce them to your favorite book, and begin on the very first day reading the book aloud. Here are some other new kid activities.

  • Ask students to pick a character from a favorite book and introduce them to the class as a new kid. Instruct them to tell three interesting things about the character.
  • Have students grade 3-up brainstorm the information that should be recorded in a reading journal. Then instruct students to pick a character from a book that they have read and write an entry in a reading journal that reveals that character’s favorite subject. Ask them to make specific references to the book to support their thoughts. For example, Brandan Buckley from Brendan Buckley’s Sixth-Grade Experiment (middle grade) by Sundee Frazier would really like science.
  • Then use books to introduce students to the subjects they will be studying. Suggestions from Random House include:


R is for Rocket: An ABC Book (picture book) by Tad Hills

How Rocket Learned to Read (picture book) by Tad Hills

Eleven (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff


Tyrannosaurus Math (picture book) by Michelle Markel

Piece = Part = Portion (elementary) by Scott Gifford

G is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book (elementary/middle) by David M. Schwartz


I, Galileo (picture book) by Bonnie Christensen

Dangerous Planet (elementary) by Bryn Barnard

Frozen in Time (middle grade) by Mark Kurlansky

The Great Trouble (middle grade) by Deborah Hopkinson

Outbreak! Plagues That Changed History (young adult) by Bryn Barnard

Ringside, 1925 (young adult) by Jen Bryant

Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives (young adult) by Albert Marrin


I Pledge Allegiance (picture book) by Pat Mora & Libby Martinez & illus. by Patrice Barton

The Ballot Box Battle (picture book) by Emily Arnold McCully

Me on the Map (picture book) by Joan Sweeney & illus. by Annette Cable

The American Story (elementary) by Jennifer Armstrong & illus. by Roger Roth

The Hope Chest (middle grade) by Karen Schwabach

The Century for Young People (all ages) by Peter Jennings & Todd Brewster

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia (young adult) by Candace Fleming


The Noisy Paint Box (picture book) by Barb Rosenstock

The Chalk Box Kid (early reader) by Clyde Robert Bulla

Pictures of Hollis Woods (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Pieces of Georgia (middle grade) by Jen Bryant


Theater Shoes (middle grade) by Noel Streatfeild


Junie B. Jones #22: One-Man Band (early reader) by Barbara Park and illus. by Denise Brunkus

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century (picture book) by Carole Boston Weatherford & illus. by Raul Colon

Harlem’s Little Blackbird (picture book) by Renee Watson & illus. by Christian Robinson

Physical Education

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies (young adult) by Mick Cochrane

Toby Wheeler: Eighth-Grade Benchwarmer (young adult) by Thatcher Heldring

Good Sports (picture book) by Jack Prelutsky & illus. by Chris Raschka

Out of Nowhere (young adult) by Maria Padlan


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (elementary school) by Chris Grabenstein

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) (picture book) by Barbara Bottner & I  llus. by Michael Emberley

Random House Teachers and Librarians