Top 10 Books in My Substitute Teaching Bag by Kristen Papa

When I return to the elementary classroom this fall, I want to share my passion for books and reading.  I want to be known as the substitute teacher who loves books.  I plan on packing my bag with books that promote conversations, hook readers and entice students to wonder what book I will bring next time.

Here are the top 10 books that will be in my substitute teaching bag when we start this school year.

  1. Substitute Teacher Plans by Doug Johnson

The classroom teacher and substitute teacher mix up their plans for the day. The substitute teacher takes the students on a hilarious adventure when she follows the teacher’s plans for her day off.


  1. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

A story about a bear who lost his hat and goes on a quest to find it.  He encounters many animals on his search.


  1. Unlikely Friendships for Kids: The Monkey & the Dove: And Four Other Stories of Animal Friendships  by Jennifer S. Holland

A collection of heartwarming stories about animals who discover each other and develop friendships with fascinating photographs.

  1. Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee

This book is about a girl’s experience on a roller coaster with great illustrations and many teaching points.

  1. You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo

A book of illustrations and descriptions of children and animals in different yoga poses.  I think this book would be great to use when movement breaks may be needed.


  1. Chalk by Bill Thomson

This wordless book is a favorite in our house. It is about three children who discover a magical bag of chalk.  This book could lead to great conversations about other magical chalk drawings.


  1. Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett

An engaging book about different animals that scare the monkeys off the page and keep you wondering what will happen next.


  1. What Makes You Smile  by M.H. Clark

This book is full of reminders of the little things that make us happy.


  1. One of Those Days  by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A cute book about all the different kinds of days that happen when things don’t go the way you want them to.


  1. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

This is one of my favorite books that may encourage children to try something they may be hesitant to do.  It would be a great time filler to see where their dots lead them to.


Do you have any other suggestions for must have books for substitute teachers?


Kristen Papa was a middle school science teacher, fourth grade teacher, and a stay at home mom for ten years.  She is now returning to the classroom as a substitute teacher again.  When she is not reading, she is enjoying living in the woods with her husband, three daughters, lovable cat, bunny and chickens.  You can find her online at and Twitter (@kristen_papa).