Okay teachers, if you’re looking for a fun read aloud for the first day of school, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is sure to have your new students laughing. This book by Ryan T. Higgins is light-hearted and hilarious making it a great choice for one of your first read alouds of the school year. What better way to get students excited about reading than selecting a book that is engaging and fun for students to listen to?! After this selection, they will be so excited about future read alouds.  - Jodi and the Starts With a Story Team



It’s time for Penelope Rex’s first day of school and she is nervous! She has her new backpack with ponies and tuna sandwiches her father made her. However, when she gets to school she is surprised to find out her classmates are children! Penelope thinks children are so delicious and she eats them! Her teacher has to explain that they don’t eat their classmates. Even though Penelope tries her best to make friends, everyone is afraid of her. Penelope sees that all of her classmates are making friends and she starts to feel lonely. 

She decides to try and become friends with the class goldfish, but it bites her! This helps Penelope learn what it feels like to be someone’s snack and she loses her appetite for children. She eventually starts to make friends with her classmates and enjoy school.


We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a great choice for a back to school read aloud because it lends itself to so many skills that are important to review or introduce at the beginning of the school year. We have designed our lesson plans for this book with that in mind. Here is a sneak peek at some of the skills our book companion includes. 

  1. Teach students to identify character traits and analyze the character’s actions throughout the book. 
  2. Stop throughout the reading and ask students to make predictions on what they think might happen next. 
  3. Integrate narrative writing by asking students to write about their own first day of school. 
  4. Allow students to research and write about dinosaurs, they will love this!
  5. Teach a lesson on past tense verbs and compound words.
  6. Engage students in activities where they must identify synonyms for words in this book.
  7. Use this book to have a class discussion on friendship.
  8. Take time to relate this book to the expectations in your classroom. 




If you are looking for “ready to go” activities for the first day of school, be sure to check out the book companion. With it you’ll receive all of the following resources to align with this specific book:

  • comprehension questions
  • 30 writing prompts with themed paper
  • vocabulary activities
  • word study print & go activities
  • ideas for grammar lessons with focus sentence printables
  • social emotional learning discussion topics
  • graphic organizers to target specific comprehension skills and strategies

There is so much to plan for the first day of school, so don’t spend hours planning your read aloud. Thanks to our book companion for We Don’t Eat Our Classmates teachers can simply print out our lesson plans and be ready to go. You’ll have your choice between what reading strategies to focus on and what type of writing you want your students to produce. There are so many choices! We hope this resource will make the first day of school a little less stressful.



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It's hard to explain how amazing the Starts with a Story book companions are because there is just so much goodness included in each one.  It's best if you experience using one for yourself. Sign up below & we'll send you an entire book companion to try out for FREE!


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