Attempting to quell their natural instincts to bash each other on the head is one of the first orders of business. To this end, teachers and librarians and principals will be reading to them.
I always get a kick out of most "manners" books because the only way children will pick them up on their own is if a beloved and familiar character is on the cover. A host of renowned and seasoned characters exhort kids to say please and thank you in these titles:
Clifford the Big Red Dog tries in Clifford's Manners by Norman Bridwell.
The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain is next up to bat. (My middle entling loved these books although I found the "self-improvement" titles to be some of the most tiresome reading-aloud I ever did. I do love reading The Spooky Old Tree and The Big Road Race though.)
Dora the Explorer takes a swing at it in Dora's Book of Manners by Christine Ricci and Susan Hall.
Disney steps up with a double header of Winnie the Pooh in Winnie the Pooh's - Book of Manners by Judy Delton and Disney Princess: Pretty Please: A Book of Manners by It-doesn't-really-matter.
When I opened Marc Brown's D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners, 2006, I was expecting the same ole' same ole' and the book does cover familiar ground as D.W. strives to be perfect at home and at school following a dare from her brother, Arthur. The familiarity of the Arthur franchise "helps the medicine go down" but there are some fun bits too, especially coming from D.W.
"I pick up my toys to make my room perfect. I can even make my own bed. You can too. It's no big deal--and, besides, it freaks out your parents...in a good way!"
The book works well as a read aloud. This will be the money line:
"Perfect people say "I'm sorry"if they mess up or if they hurt someone. They don't say mean words like "shut-up," "poopy" or"doo-doo head," even when bad things happen."
We all know the word "UNDERWEAR" is the funniest work in the English language to an elementary age kid but "poopy" is right up there too.
There is a "Are you perfect yet?" test to round out the book. The lowest score rates a "you need a lot of work. Please read my book again."
Without a doubt the most sublime of all manners books are the classic What Do You Say, Dear? and What Do you Do, Dear? by Sesyle Joslin with sly and witty illustrations by Maurice Sendak. No matter how improbable or bizarre the circumstances, good manners should always prevail.
Mo Willems's Time to Say Please! should be mentioned in the same breath as the Joslin books. Willems is pure gold.