With big picture themes about friendship, empathy and kindness, Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish (Grades K-2, Lexile AD 410, Level M) is a delightful picture book about the value of sharing and generosity. And we’ve partnered with Simon & Schuster to give away four Rainbow Fish gift baskets in honor of the 25th anniversary of this elementary classroom favorite!

A Back-to-School Read Aloud That Teaches Friendship and Kindness 

The Rainbow Fish makes a perfect read aloud for the beginning of the school year because it sets such a positive example about sharing for young students—and can help build a culture of compassion in your classroom that lasts all year long. 

Back-to-School Read Alouds: The Rainbow Fish

Summary: The Rainbow Fish may be the most beautiful fish in the ocean with his glittering scales, but he doesn’t want to share. He’s too selfish and proud. Swimming around and being flashy is fun because it makes him feel special, but that feeling doesn’t last long. A little blue fish keeps asking for one of his many glittering scales, but Rainbow Fish says no. The other fish in the sea are sad that Rainbow Fish won’t share, and Rainbow Fish isn’t very happy either. A wise octopus suggests that he try sharing his scales, and when he does, Rainbow Fish discovers happiness in being included and learns that sharing with others makes him feel good inside.   

Classroom Connection: After you read The Rainbow Fish aloud, young students can use the story as a prompt to model and role play different scenes in school—giving them the opportunity to choose to treat others with compassion and kindness.

Mix It Up: Instead of reading the book aloud yourself, let student watch Ernest Borgnine read The Rainbow Fish aloud.

More Favorite Back-to-School Read Alouds

Social and emotional learning is essential for students, and books are a powerful tool for introducing concepts like self-awareness, social awareness and relationship skills in a fun and entertaining way. Here are some more titles that introduce themes of empathy, compassion and personal responsibility and can help you set a positive tone at the beginning of the school year.

What If Everybody Did That?

Help children understand the consequences of messy, disruptive, thoughtless behaviors and broken rules with this picture book by Ellen Javernick. 

back-to-school read alouds








Interest Level: K-2

Lexile Level: AD650

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Popular children’s author Kevin Henkes tells the story of young girl who has trouble controlling her emotions and action at school, but eventually learns to take responsibility for her actions.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse: Back to School Read Alouds








Interest Level: P-2

Lexile Level: 540

Guided Reading Level: N

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

Set up a positive learning environment and remind students that mistakes are okay (and something you can learn from!) with this read aloud from Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. 

Back-to-School Read Alouds








Interest Level: K-3

Lexile: AD520

Booksource is teaming up with Simon & Schuster to give away one Rainbow Fish-themed gift basket (perfect for early elementary classrooms!) to four lucky winners. Each basket includes: a poster, paper gift bag, curriculum guide, stickers, finger puppets and bookmarks, as well as several hardcover, paperback and board books in the Rainbow Fish series! 

Entries are limited to the United States. Only one entry per person. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on August 20, 2017. Winners will be randomly selected. Good luck! 



(Please note that we can only ship books to a school address.) 

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winners!