“Back to School”
A Wynk, a Blynk and a Nod to Books about Back to School for Younger Children
Move over summer, a new school year is coming!
It’s that time of year again … time for new school supplies, uniforms, backpacks and more. Some kids are probably feeling excited, while others are a little sad that summer is coming to an end. Others may feel nervous or even a little scared. New teachers, new friends, maybe even a new school are worrisome. But we all know that these new worries will only stick around for a little while.
We’ve selected several new books, for both younger and older readers, to help with the excitement and concern that a new school year brings.
New Books for Young Readers
Bear’s Big Day by Salina Yoon
This is the third book in Yoon’s Bear and Bunny series. Together, these two face a brand new experience – going to school for the first time. The illustrations are adorable right down to the endpapers, which feature a variety of animal themed backpacks!
Charlie Chick Goes to School by Nick Denchfield, illus. by Ant Parker
This cute pop-up book follows Charlie on his first day of school.
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins
This is the story of a young boy, Frank, and his newly adopted dog, Lucky. They both go to school, Lucky “ten times” and Frank “thousands of times”. Through their relationship with one another and with the world around them, the author is able to introduce school subjects through imagined scenarios between the two of them. This is a very interesting take on the subject, and the watercolor illustrations vary throughout the story, from full-color paintings to small vignettes.
If an Elephant Went to School by Ellen Fischer, illus. by Laura Wood
This book presents the kinds of things animals might learn if they were to go to school. An elephant would learn how to use her trunk, and an owl would learn to clean and groom his feathers. The author first presents some activities that would take place in a human classroom, and follows it with an introduction to animal behaviors and activities. The playful illustrations imagine silly situations.
I’m Ready for School by Dawn Sirett, illus. by Reg Silva
This oversized, interactive Dorling Kindersley board book, with its 45 lift-the-flaps, allows children the opportunity to learn and practice key skills for starting school.
Kindergarten is Cool! By Linda Elovitz Marshall, illus. by Chris Chatterton
The experiences on the first day of kindergarten are told through rhyming text. This book provides a good introduction for those getting ready to enter kindergarten and will reassure kids that school will be fun!
Ming Goes to School by Deirdre Sullivan, illus. by Maja Löfdahl
Ming and her ethnically diverse classmates embark on their first day of preschool. The story follows these characters throughout the year. The text is minimal, and the illustrations are done in soft watercolors. This is just a very sweet story about the milestone of attending school for the first time.
Mission: Back to School by Susan Hood, illus. by Mary Lundquist
The first day of school is presented as a secret agent’s mission with nineteen steps to complete. The only text is the steps themselves and some speech bubbles that accompany the illustrations, which are done in watercolor and pencil and which convey the warm humor of the story. This picture book provides a unique look at going back to school.
Otter Goes to School by Sam Garton
Otter, the stuffed animal, starts a school of her own, with stuffed pupils of course, because that is how her owner, Otter Keeper, learned so many things. In doing so, she learns that everyone has a talent; you just have to find it. The detailed illustrations are spot-on for conveying the humor in the story.
Rappy Goes to School by Dan Gutman, illus. by Tim Bowers
Written in verse, this makes for a fun read-aloud. On his first day of school, Rappy the Raptor encounters a bully and gets up enough nerve to speak up. The message is of course a good one. The illustrations are fun and Bowers’ dinosaurs are full of personality.
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illus. by Christian Robinson
This story is told from the school’s point of view. Frederick Douglass Elementary, a newly built school, is nervous over the first day of school and what it will bring. He confides his fear in the janitor who reassures him that everything will be just fine. Caldecott Award winning artist Robinson portrays a diverse group of children through his bold and engaging illustrations.
Sophie’s Squash Go to School by Pat Zietlow Miller, illus. by Anne Wilsdorf
Sophie is extremely nervous over her first day of school and is very reluctant to make new friends, preferring to play with the two squash, named Bonnie and Baxter, which she grew in her garden. However, one boy’s repeated attempts at friendship eventually win her over, though the process takes some time. This is a great story about friendship and one to be read-aloud.
Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Ron Husband
Inspired by a true story set in St. Louis, Missouri in 1847, Reverend John Berry Meachum is forced to close his school when a new state law against educating African Americans is enacted. He comes up with an ingenious solution by moving his school to a steamboat in the Mississippi River. An author’s note provides additional information about the real Reverend Meachum who fought for the rights of African Americans. Husband’s cross-hatched black-ink illustrations draw the reader into the time period and provide a strong sense of drama.
Teacher by Ando Twin, illus. by Lucy M. George
Part of the Busy People series, this story introduces the teacher as a community helper. A few other employees at the school are introduced as well.
Teachers Rock! By Todd Parr
New York Times bestselling author Todd Parr celebrates all the special things about teachers. His illustrations, full of vibrant colors and bold lines, provide lots of kid appeal.
The Way to School by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International
This beautiful picture book speaks to the importance of education and the obstacles that many children around the world must overcome to attend school. The story is illustrated with compelling and stunning photographs and provides a fascinating look at schoolchildren across the globe.
New Books for Older Readers
Captain Awesome vs. the Sinister Substitute Teacher by Stan Kirby, illus. by George O’Connor
This is the sixteenth adventure in the Captain Awesome series about the Sunnyview Superhero Squad. It’s just an ordinary day at school until a substitute teacher walks through the door. It’s up to Captain Awesome and his crew to rescue their teacher, Ms. Beasley. These books are easy-to-read and include illustrations on almost every page, making them perfect for beginning readers.
Class Pet Squad: Journey to the Center of Town by Dan Baccarin
A hamster, a rabbit, a turtle and a chameleon comprise the Class Pet Squad. In this adventure, teamwork is emphasized as they spring into action to reunite a student with the toy he left behind after show-and-tell. This is another chapter book great for new readers.
Geography by Dan Gutman, illus. by Jim Paillot
Learn lots of weird-but-true geography facts with A.J. and Andrea in this new series of non-fiction books, My Weird School Fast Facts. The other title, to date, in the series is Sports.
The Girl Who Buried Dreams in a Can by Dr. Tererai Trent, illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
This picture book biography is actually an autobiographical memoir of the author’s childhood in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). Her journey illustrates the importance of literacy, education, and freedom. Gilchrist’s watercolor illustrations add depth to this inspiring story.
Humphrey’s School Fair Surprise by Betty G. Birney, illus. by Priscilla Burris
This chapter book series, Humphrey’s Tiny Tales, is perfect for those just beginning to read. The print is large, the chapters are short, and there are lots of illustrations. In this latest adventure, the students are getting ready for the big school fair and they are trying to come up with a way for their classroom pets to be able to participate.
The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell
This is a brand new series from the author of the New York Times best-selling Dork Diaries. The journal style format introduces Max, who transitions from homeschooling to public school, where he becomes the target of the school bully. This is sure to be equally as popular as The Dork Diaries.
Our Teacher is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories by Mary Amato
Alexander is certain that his teacher, Mrs. Penrose, is a vampire. He enlists the help of his classmates on his investigation and encourages them to write down their observations and thoughts in a blank journal that he got for his birthday. This leads to some pretty interesting creative writing as this novel is written in the form of letters, jokes, poems, and short stories. The story is great fun with a mix of relatable characters.
Princess DisGrace: A Royal Disaster by Lou Kuenzler
Grace arrives as a first year student at the Tall Towers Princess Academy but, being neither elegant nor graceful, she doesn’t quite fit in. This book is the first in a new series featuring princesses, both traditional and non-traditional. This is a light, yet fun read.
Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang, illus. by Mike Holmes
In this graphic novel, twelve-year-old Hopper and her friend Eni investigate their mysterious new school, creepy Stately Academy. Their discoveries turn them into secret coders on a mission. Computer science and mystery are intertwined in this first of a new series.
Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen
This is the first in a new chapter book series entitled, The Magnificent Mya Tibbs. African-American Mya Tibbs is in the fourth grade and is very excited about her Texas school’s Spirit Week and the chance to win VIP tickets to the town’s Fall Festival. But when Mya is paired with the school bully, friendships are put in jeopardy.