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Substitute Teacher Books for Elementary Students in 2021

This list of substitute teacher books is helpful for when you teach your elementary students the expectations for student behavior when a sub is in the classroom. These read alouds can also be used for sub plans. I highly recommend checking out this list of 50 read aloud books to leave for sub plans as well! In addition to sharing book titles and summaries, I included a list of resources that complement the substitute teacher books at the bottom of this post. Learn more there!

9 Substitute Teacher Books

Read the summaries of some of my favorite substitute teacher books below! Your students will love these books about substitute teachers!

1. Miss Malarkey Won’t Be in Today by Judy Finchler

With a fever, Miss Malarkey knows that she won’t be able to teach so she calls in sick to school. She worries about which substitute teacher will get called in to teach her class. She hopes the principal won’t call scary Mr. Doberman, or silly Mrs. Ungerware, or nervous Mr. Lemonjello. She knows her students will be too much for Mr. Lemonjello to handle. Miss Malarkey gets so worried that she decides to go to school to check on her class. When she gets there, she realizes that she won’t really have anything to worry about!

2. The Substitute Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler

Mrs. Green is sick today, and won’t be able to teach her class, so they’ll have to have a substitute teacher. The class imagines the fun they’ll have that day. They hope for recess all day, except for one hour, which will be for a party. They won’t have any homework and they’ll be able to behave as badly as they want without consequences. They’ll hide all the lesson plans and tie their substitute teacher to a mounting board! However, when the substitute teacher actually arrives, he’s much more than the students had bargained for. He bursts in through the wall, and he’s nine feet tall and very scary. He doesn’t fall for any of the students’ tricks, and at first they are disappointed. They soon discover that the substitute teacher, although strict, is more fun than they first assumed!

3. Substitute Teacher Plans by Doug Johnson

Miss Huff’s crazy class is beginning to wear her out, so she decides to take a vacation day. However, when she mixes up her sub plan list and her own to-do list for her day off, she spends the day reading, writing, and doing math while her class does things like scuba diving, riding a roller coaster, and visiting the circus. When Miss Huff returns to school the next day, she realizes her mistake and wants to take another day off. However, her students tell her that they missed her so she decides to stay.

4. Jamaica and the Substitute Teacher by Juanita Havill

When Jamaica’s class gets a substitute teacher, Mrs. Duval, Jamaica grows to like Mrs. Duval throughout the day and wants to impress her. When it comes time for the spelling test, Jamaica realizes that she hasn’t studied. The first five words are easy, but then Mrs. Duvall gives the class a word that Jamaica can’t remember. Wanting to impress her teacher with a good score, Jamaica makes the bad decision to look at her friend Brianna’s paper. She gets a perfect score, but it certainly didn’t feel right to have cheated, so, ashamed, Jamaica doesn’t hand her test in with the others and instead puts it in her desk. When the time comes to admit her mistake, Jamaica realizes that she must do the right thing, even if it might affect how Mrs. Duvall sees her. 

5. Same Way Ben by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Ben likes things the same way every day, so he is upset when, one morning, Mrs. Garcia isn’t there to greet him when he gets off the bus. Instead, it’s Mr. Elliot, the music teacher. In the classroom, Mr. Elliot tells the class that he will be their teacher not just for that day, but for the next six weeks while Mrs. Garcia is on maternity leave. That morning, Mr. Elliot plays loud music, which Ben doesn’t like because the class never listens to loud music in the morning. The next Monday, Elliot arrives to the classroom to find that Mr. Elliot has moved the tables. His friend Cami goes to sit at the yellow table, and their usual green table has been moved from the corner near the cubbies. Later that day, Mr. Elliot announces that he has made blueberry and cream cheese bagels for lunch so Ben won’t be able to eat his usual chicken strips and apple, and Ben, overwhelmed, begins to cry. Suddenly, Mrs. Garcia comes to visit with her new baby and teaches Ben that new changes, although scary at first, can make life an adventure.

6. Dear Substitute by Liz Garton Scanlon

When, without warning, Mrs. Giordano is replaced by a substitute teacher, Miss Pelly, the class notices everything different about the day. The substitute teacher can’t quite pronounce some of the names on the attendance list. Even though the class usually visits the library on Tuesdays, the substitute teacher doesn’t let them. The substitute doesn’t let the class clean the turtle’s tank, even though it’s usually done on Tuesday. Miss Pelly gets the main character and their friend in trouble for trading food during lunch, even though she ignored most of the other classroom rules, such as who should be line leader. However, the main character learns that they like the poetry that Miss Pelly reads to the class, and ultimately that the substitute teacher might not be so bad after all!

7. My Teacher’s Not Here by Lana Button

Upon arriving at school, Kitty knows that something is wrong. Her teacher, Miss Seabrooke, is not there to greet her like she normally does. When the bell rings and Miss Seabrooke still hasn’t arrived, Kitty gets nervous. She doesn’t know how school will work when her teacher isn’t there. When they get to the classroom, Kitty finds a strange new teacher, Mr. Omar, in Miss Seabrooke’s usual spot. After reading the letter that Miss Seabrooke left for the class, Kitty decides to take charge and help out her classmates where her teacher would normally do so, and asks her friends for help where she would normally ask Miss Seabrooke. Mr. Omar even has lots of fun activities for the class to do. By the end of the day, Kitty knows that she had nothing to worry about, and, even though she missed her teacher, the day still went just fine!

8. Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall

One morning, Ms. Jenkins’ class discovers that they will have a substitute teacher because they’ve grown too out of hand. Their substitute, Mr. Creacher, is quite scary and even has eyes on the back of his head! He tells the class about the past times that he’s been sent to classes to help students behave to teach this class a lesson. However, the class soon discovers that Mr. Creacher has problems of his own after being cursed by a magical gnome and they are determined to help him overcome them.

9. Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard

The story, Miss Nelson is Missing, is about an unruly classroom of students and a teacher who finds a creative way to teach them a lesson. The students in Room 207 were the worst-behaved students in the whole school. They were constantly acting up and poor Miss Nelson was unable to teach. Then one day, Miss Nelson goes missing and Miss Viola Swamp comes into the classroom. She wears an ugly black dress, never smiles, and loads the students up with homework. It isn’t long before the students miss Miss Nelson and start to look for her. When she returns a few days later the students are thrilled to see her. They no longer misbehave and act like angels in the classroom. In the end, we find out that Miss Nelson was in the classroom all long and she had dressed up as Miss Viola Swamp to teach her students a lesson about being respectful. This children’s book about a substitute teacher is very popular at the elementary level!

Miss Nelson is Missing book cover and writing paperMiss Nelson is Missing book companion
Miss Nelson is Missing Teaching Resources

Resources for Prepping for a Substitute Teacher

This collection of substitute teacher books for elementary students are great read alouds to share at the beginning of the school year or when you have a guest teacher covering your classroom while you are in a meeting or out of the school building. If you need resources to accompany these substitute teacher kids books, check out these reading graphic organizers. They can be used with any of the books listed above, as well as any non-fiction or fiction story. This Miss Nelson is Missing resource is a great option as well! You may also find these sub plan resources helpful:

We hope you found this list of substitute teacher books helpful! If you want to get more book ideas to read aloud to your elementary students (beyond just children’s books with substitute teacher characters), then grab this reading freebie. It includes read aloud books lists, reading logs, and reading challenges for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom teachers. It will have you covered for the entire school year, as well as the summer months! Grab this free elementary reading packet now!

lists of elementary read alouds

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