Toys & Books

20 Books That Will Get Your Kids (and You!) Ready for School

intro by OJUS PATEL

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back to school books"
back to school books
Graphics by: Anna Wissler
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: children’s books are the greatest tools I have in my parenting toolbox.

Books have a way of presenting ideas and promoting conversation in a neutral, objective way, and that’s something that my kids really respond to. Instead of being told something by their mother, they gain insight into a concept or idea by the characters in their books, and then we can talk about how this story can pertain to our real lives. In a sense, kids are able to learn the lesson or come to a conclusion on their own, rather than being told so by their parents.

And that, my friends, is a truly powerful thing.

So, when it comes to the anxiety and anticipation of a new school year, books, again, are where I turn to help my kids manage the worry of the unknown and build excitement for the year of learning to follow.

These are a few of our favorite back to school books for this time of year–some light, some poignant, some that have made me tear up on a first read, and some that are just plain fun.


Back to School Books About Making New Friends

Ryan T. Higgins
1. We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Penelope Rex is nervous as she heads to school for the first time—especially once she realizes all her classmates are children, and to Penelope, children are delicious.

This funny story helps kids consider what it means to be a good friend.

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Kevin Henkes
2. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum loves her name, until she starts school and her classmates tease her about it.

Little ones can learn kindness and self-acceptance from this award-winning story.

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Jacqueline Woodson
3. The Day You Begin

A favorite of little ones, this sweet story addresses the nervousness kids might feel about school, including looking different than other kids.

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Yangsook Choi
4. The Name Jar

After moving from Korea, Unhei realizes the kids at her new school are having a hard time pronouncing her name. So she decides to choose a new, American name and, with the help of a friend, decides which moniker feels just right.

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Trudy Ludwig
5. The Invisible Boy

This touching story teaches kids how one small act of kindness can make anyone feel included. This book also includes a discussion guide and resources for further reading.

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Julie Danneberg
6. First Day Jitters

Sarah Jane is nervous for her first day of school but is quickly reassured by a new friend, Mrs. Burton, that everyone at school gets the jitters sometimes—and that's perfectly OK.

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Back to School Books About Separation Anxiety

Audrey Penn & Ruth E. Harper
8. The Kissing Hand

For little ones who might have separation anxiety at the start of daycare or school, The Kissing Hand can help assure them their parent's love is always with them.

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Anna Dewdney
9. Llama Llama Misses Mama

Llama Llama is headed to his first day of school in this story. Told in the signature rhyming style of the popular book series, little readers can learn what to expect at school and what might be hard—like missing their parents.

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Becky Friedman
10. Daniel Goes to School

For Daniel Tiger fans, you know this little tiger always has a kid-relatable lesson to share. In this story, Daniel's headed to school but is upset his dad can't stay with him.

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Books About Getting Excited for School

Mo Willems
12. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

Pigeon has a lot of concerns about school—like, what if he learns too much and his head pops off? Follow along to see if he finally gets comfortable with going to school in this laugh-out-loud tale.

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little blue truck
Alice Schertle
13. Time for School, Little Blue Truck

Little Blue Truck is a fan favorite in many of our homes. Released in 2021, this fun story will help get little ones excited to return to school this fall.

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Todd Parr
14. The School Book

In this colorful book, New York Times bestselling author Todd Parr teachers little ones about all the fun things that can happen during school from practicing a different routine to meeting new friends and learning a lot!

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Doreen Cronin
15. Click, Clack, Quack to School!

When Farmer Brown is invited to be a guest at an elementary school’s Farm Day, he wants to bring his friends along—but, sadly, they aren't allowed, even on their best behavior. But... what if they come in disguise?

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Laura Numeroff
16. If You Take a Mouse to School

In this beloved series, the mouse heads to school. But if you take a mouse to school, he'll want a backpack... and a lunch box... and some pencils. What could he ask for next?

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Alexandra Penfold
17. All Are Welcome

In this sweet story, a group of students welcomes everyone at school with open arms and learns about different cultures and traditions as they gather to celebrate Lunar New Year.

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king of kindergarten
Deborah Diesen
18. The King of Kindergarten

Give little ones a confidence boost as they start the school year with the story of a little boy ready to take on the year—and tell his parents all about it when he gets home.

And just released in May 2022, The Queen of Kindergarten.

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A Letter from Your Teacher
Shannon Olsen
19. A Letter From Your Teacher: On the First Day of School

This heartwarming picture book helps teachers welcome their new students with a letter. The book also includes a blank space on the last page for your child's teacher to sign their name so kids know all the words inside come from their new teacher.

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This article was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for timeliness.

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