My girls are I are a little obsessed with gift-giving right now. We wrack our brains to find the right gift for each person. If the present delights and amuses, we know we have a winner. It’s not about spending a lot of money per se, it’s more about finding a personal connection from that person to the gift, which means trying to remember obscure details from past conversations to nail that gift.
Teacher gifts can be hard. Principal gifts even harder. It’s not like you really hang out with your school’s principal! Did your art teacher do something amazing for your child? Ours nominated my daughter for a special arts summer camp which set her down a happy path that she’s now pursuing.
I’ve personally used many of these books to gift to my kids’ teachers. I hope you enjoy these books too; both reading them with your kids and perhaps even gifting one to a special teacher or educator in your life.
How about you? What’s a special gift that you like to give to teachers? Thanks for sharing!
Books for Kids to Gift Teachers and Principals
A Teacher Like You by Frank Murphy and Barbara Dan, illustrated by Kayla Harren
This is a love song to teachers, and they deserve it, especially after the last year of learning through a pandemic. Use this book to honor teachers, coaches, mentors, and adults who uplift our children and help them reach their full potential.
A year-end gift idea: have everyone pitch in for one copy and have every child sign and write a note to their teacher. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
This is by far my favorite gift to an amazing teacher. Mr. Falker is a real person that helped Patricia Polacco to overcome her dyslexia but I’d use this book for any teacher that goes above and beyond for his or her students. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
A Nickel, A Trolley, A Treasure House by Sharon Reiss Baker
A teacher notices the artistic talent of her young student and takes him to an art museum. Suddenly, this new world of possibilities is presented before him and it gives him the courage to pursue it (in real life) despite his family’s objections. Set in the turn of the century in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, this is based on the author’s family history. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Teachers Rock! by Todd Parr
Share the love of a child for his teacher, and vise versa, in this warm fuzzy picture book celebrating teachers. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
What’s the Matter in Mr. Whiskers Room by Michael Elsohn Ross
PickyKidPix’s favorite science teacher was in 6th grade, Mr. Gresser. He got the kids really excited by having them do lots and lots of hands-on experiments that usually involved small explosions. Science is taught through the inquiry method where kids are encouraged to ask questions and then see if they can find answers to them through experiments.
My daughter loved this style of learning and found a teacher that appreciated her endless questions. [She’s a curious kid but her questions can be exhausting.] And it really worked. She really learned physics and chemistry in a way that stuck with her and ignited a love of science. Thank you Mr. Gresser!
In Mr. Whiskers Room, his students do seven different experiments to explore the concept of matter: they use water droppers, play with gloop, oobleck, water, ice, rocks, sand, and mud. The experiments are detailed in the back. This book encourages readers to join in for their own exploration of matter! It’s perfect for after-schooling, homeschooling, or the classroom! [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Jamaica and the Substitute Teacher by Juanita Havill
The job of the substitute teacher is perhaps the most challenging of all educators! Whether it’s for one day, or for many months, it’s not easy to take over from a beloved teacher and carry on. Jamaica is nervous but excited for the substitute teacher and she turns out to be great. In impressing this new teacher, Jamaica makes a poor decision, but her substitute teacher helps her to fix it. I’d gift this book to a substitute teacher in your life. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Teacher’s Pets by Dayle Ann Dodds
It’s not easy to find the perfect classroom pet. Miss Fry’s sharing day suddenly morphs into pet sharing day and the pets seem to wind up staying a lot longer than just one day. Before long, her classroom is bursting with pets. On the last day of school, all the pets finally go home, except for one. The cricket likes Miss Fry best so she brings it home to her quiet little house and sets it free into her garden. It’s the perfect pet for her! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Miss Nelson is Missing by
When Miss Nelson’s class misbehaves, drastic measures need to be taken. Miss Nelson is gone, replaced by a much scarier counterpart, Miss Viola Swamp. She whips the children into ship-shape, making them regret that Miss Nelson is missing. The kids take matters into their own hands, trying to find her. Is Miss Nelson ever coming back? Are they stuck with Miss Viola Swamp forever? And where was Miss Nelson all this time? There are a few secrets, by both teacher and kids! See if you can figure them out! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I Don’t) by Barbara Bottner
Two of my kids were lucky to have an amazing teacher named Miss Brooks. She was able to differentiate learning in what seemed like an effortless way but was actually based on her being extremely organized every day to come up with a lesson plan that worked for three different kinds of learners. And she also loved books. When she got married, she invited the entire class to her wedding (just like in Lily’s Big Day, a sequel to Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse). I gifted both these books to her. Now she’s married and her new name is so hard to spell: Mrs. Crachiollo. I hope I spelled that right!
In this book, Miss Brooks is a librarian that gets kids excited about reading. Even ones who resist! She knows that there’s a book out there for each child that will turn them on to reading! In this case, it’s a book for a little girl involving warts. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Lily loves her teacher, Mr. Slinger, and, because of him, wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She goes shopping with her grammy and brings her new beautiful purple plastic purse to school for showtime, but she just can’t wait that long. It ends up being a bad day for Lily. Her purse is confiscated and she is furious with her teacher. This leads to revenge. And then remorse. Will Mr. Slinger forgive her? Kevin Henkes captures the intense drama of the teacher/student relationship in this charming picture book that every child who ever had a bad day in school can relate to! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Yoko by Rosemary Wells
Mrs. Jenkins notices that Yoko is being bullied for bringing her favorite lunch: sushi! She frets long into the night to come up with an idea of what do to. Her solution is brilliant — an International Food Day at school — where everyone has to taste everything. Will Yoko’s classmates try her raw fish? Gift this picture book to a teacher who works hard to get her kids to understand their differences. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco
This is an homage to Patricia Polacco’s art teacher, Miss Chew, who taught her art after school, and encouraged her remarkable talent during a time when other teachers wanted her to stop doing her art. This is the perfect picture book to gift to an art teacher who shows students how art can change the world. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Jack doesn’t like poetry or cats, but he does love his dog. His teacher helps him find his voice, both as a poet and as someone coping with loss. [novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
The Year of Ms. Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Miss Agnes arrives in a remote part of Alaska on 1948 to teach kids in a one-room schoolhouse. Most teachers come and go quickly here; it’s not the easiest place to live. But Miss Agnes is different. She actually wants to be there and she finds a way to connect education with the Athabascans culture and way of life. By creating materials of her own, she finds a way to teach each and every one of the kids, including learning sign language to help a hearing-impaired child. Gift this book to a teacher that changes lives in difficult circumstances. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind by Valerie Hobbs
Minnie has moved to a new school in a small town and the new substitute English Language teacher is making the kids think, really think. There’s a lot for her to think about: her uncle who came back injured from the Iraq war, her new friend Amira who is Muslim, and the bigotry that seems to be floating around in this new place. Her new teacher breaks the dress code and now there’s controversy over her competency as a teacher. But this is the best teacher that Minnie has ever had; can her own small voice make a difference?
This is a book to gift to a substitute teacher or a teacher that encourages kids to ask good questions and isn’t afraid to stir things up. A teacher who will appreciate this book will prioritize producing good citizens rather than high standardized test scores. This is a nice book to gift a teacher because it covers so many issues kids face from bullying, cyberbullying, racism, prejudice, and standing up for what you believe it. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
Ms. Bixby is the kind of teacher that everyone wants; the “good” ones that are not burnt out. The kind of teacher that really, really listens to what you say. If you have a teacher like Ms. Bixby, you know that you are going to have a good year. But now Ms. Bixby is very sick, and three boys whose lives she has quietly touched feel compelled to let her know how much she means to them. They decide that they have to ditch school this one day to see her in the hospital before she is transferred to another city far away. What exactly Ms. Bixby has done for them is slowly revealed in a heartwarming tearjerker. This is for all the good teachers out there that change lives by listening, by paying attention, by caring, and by being there when kids need them most. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
Books for Kids to Gift Principals or Headmasters
Mr. Tanen’s Ties series by Maryanne Cocca-Leffler
Mr. Tanen, the principal, uses his ties to convey his mood, special events, and other messages to the kids in his class. The kids at school love seeing what Mr. Tanen will wear and they gift his special ties when they travel. His superintendent, however, is not as amused, and he commands Mr. Tanen to wear a plain navy blue tie every day instead of his silly ties. It turns out that ties can convey a lot more than fashion sense, and Mr. Tanen’s ties (and clever intervention from the children) come to the rescue when the superintendent falls in love. Gift this to a principal with style! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco
Mr. Lincoln quietly uses his influence as principal to reach out to a boy bully and show him a different way of viewing the world from the racist version of what he experiences at home. [picture book, age 5 and up]
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
After being homeschooled all his life, 10-year-old August Pullman is starting 5th grade at a private middle school in his Upper East Side neighborhood. He wonders if anyone will realize that he’s just a normal kid underneath his disfigured face, an affliction he was born with. His middle school classmates are challenged to “be kinder than is necessary” but can they? Will they? In this uplifting story, it turns out that everyone carries some kind of disfigurement that feels isolating, even though most can’t be seen.
This is a book to gift to a teacher who appreciates precepts and/or a principal or headmaster that emphasizes the value of kindness in the classroom, and in life. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.