August is here, and so begins the start of a new school year. For many children this can be an anxious time. We’ve included lots of books to hopefully make the transition a little easier and calm those first day jitters. And for the seasoned pro, we’ve included some school stories that are just for fun!
All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illus. by Suzanne Kaufman
This picture book celebrates diversity in the context of going back to school. The rhyming text and colorful illustrations help to deliver this important message.
Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illus. by Vashti Harrison
This picture book provides a fun introduction to scientific method. The illustrations depicting the science classroom are detailed and interesting. Kids are sure to admire Cece and her tenacity.
Click, Clack, Quack to School! by Doreen Cronin, illus. by Betsy Lewin
The farm animals are excited to go to school until they learn of the rules. This is the latest from the creators of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. It’s another fun adventure for Farmer Brown and his cast of animal characters.
Dear Substitute by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illus. by Chris Raschka
Through a series of letters, a student realizes that having a substitute isn’t so bad after all. The watercolor illustrations by Caldecott medalist Chris Raschka are expressive and whimsical. The story works well as a read-aloud but is also appropriate for early readers.
Did You Hear What I Heard?: Poems about School by Kay Winters, illus. by Patrice Barton
This collection of school themed poetry includes poems about catching the bus, a fire drill, a snow day, and many other memorable school moments. The illustrations are very soft and have the look and feel of watercolor. Barton has included a cast of diverse characters throughout the book, and her illustrations are quite appealing.
Fairy’s First Day of School by Bridget Heos, illus. by Sara No
Everything associated with the first day of school, from meeting the teacher to making new friends to following classroom routine, is depicted in this book, … but with a fairy twist.
Geraldine by Elizabeth Lilly
Geraldine the giraffe is moving and must face being different at a new school. But when she makes just that one friend, she begins to feel that she belongs. This book could be helpful for any child moving to a new school and having to start over making new friends.
It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illus. by Claire Messer
A new bus undergoes a thorough inspection before the first day of school. The lino-print and ink illustrations are cheerful and child-friendly and offer an interesting style.
Kindergarrrten Bus by Mike Ornstein, illus. by Kevin M. Barry
Here’s a “first day of school” story with a pirate twist. The illustrations and detail suit the theme well.
Lena’s Shoes are Nervous: A First-Day -of-School Dilemma by Keith Calabrese, illus. by Juana Medina
Lena is excited to start kindergarten, but, as she explains to her dad, her shoes aren’t quite so sure. With some encouragement, it’s off to school for Lena and her nervous shoes. This is a good story to help assuage those first day jitters.
Mae’s First Day of School by Kate Berube
Mae’s anxiety over her first day mounts as she walks to school. But she gets over her fear after meeting a new friend and a new teacher who are both nervous as well. The illustrations are bright and fill the pages with washes of color.
Mermaid School by Joanne Stewart Wetzel, illus. by Julianna Swaney
An underwater classroom comes to life in this sweet rhyming story. The watercolor illustrations are full of interesting details.
My Teacher’s Not Here! by Lana Button, illus. by Christine Battuz
Kitty is very anxious and worried when her teacher takes a sick day. But she survives the day, managing well, helping others, and even having a bit of fun. This sweet story, written in rhyme, does a great job of comforting those that are apprehensive about having a substitute teacher and their routine disrupted.
Nile Crossing by Katy Beebe, illus. by Sally Wern Comport
Though set in ancient Egypt, this story addresses that universal fear of starting school for the first time. It’s the story of a fisherman’s son who will start school to learn to become a scribe. The illustrations are beautifully done and even reflect ancient Egyptian art throughout. An author’s note, illustrator’s note, and glossary are included as well.
On the First Day of First Grade by Tish Rabe, illus. by Sarah Jennings
A play on The Twelve Days of Christmas, this book celebrates the fun of being in first grade, pointing out that there are many firsts to look forward to. The illustrations portray a multitude of diverse characters.
Ready or Not, Woolbur Goes to School! By Leslie Helakoski, illus. by Lee Harper
Woolbur the free-spirited sheep is excited and ready for school. He exudes self-confidence and his enthusiasm catches on! The illustrations add to the story’s upbeat tone.
School Jokes by Michael Dahl and Donald Lemke
This book is part of the DC Super Heroes Joke Books series. Included are more than 75 jokes about school, told by Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and more.
The Secret Life of Squirrels: Back to School! by Nancy Rose
This book is comprised of photographs of real squirrels in various miniature school-type settings. From shopping for school supplies to setting up the classroom to driving the school bus, these squirrels do it all to get ready for the first day. An author’s note explains how she creates the sets and photographs the squirrels.
The Secrets of Ninja School by Deb Pilutti
For one weekend in the summer, boys and girls attend Master Willow’s School for Ninjas where they learn many skills and discover their own special talent. After much anxiety, Ruby eventually discovers that she has several special skills as she is able to help the many students that are homesick. Instructions for a craft project, which ties in nicely with the story, are included at the end.
Tractor Mac School Day by Billy Steers
When Betty the school bus has a bad first day of school, Tractor Mac and the other vehicles and animals of Stony Meadow Farm offer words of encouragement and advice, thus giving Betty the courage to try again. The watercolor and pencil illustrations add lots of detail to the story.
The Truth about My Unbelievable School … by Davide Cali, illus. by Benjamin Chaud
When Henry is asked to show a new student around school, he gives a very blasé tour. The illustrations however show quite the opposite of “just so-so.” Henry’s weird school is a bit of a stretch, but kids should find humor in this imaginative story.
The 12 Days of Preschool by Jenna Lettice, illus. by Colleen Madden
Also inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas, this cumulative story takes us through twelve days of preschool highlighting all the fun things to do in the classroom.
Twig by Aura Parker
Heidi, a stick insect that blends in with the scenery, has trouble making friends on her first day of school because no one notices her. This is Parker’s debut picture book as both author and illustrator, and she does not disappoint. The illustrations are sweet and imaginative.
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School by Julie Falatko, illus., by Colin Jack
This is the first in a new series of chapter books entitled Two Dogs in a Trench Coat. In this first installment, two loyal dogs, Waldo and Sassy, devise a plan to save their human boy from school. This is a goofy series that should appeal to reluctant readers as well.
The Unlucky Lottery Winners of Classroom 13 by Honest Lee and Matthew J. Gilbert
This is the first in a new series of easy-to-read chapter books, Classroom 13. Others include The Disastrous Magical Wishes of Classroom 13 and The Fantastic and Terrible Fame of Classroom 13. The stories are humorous and fun and even encourage kids to write their own chapter.
Written by Cecilia Horn and Terri Diebel
Cecilia Horn is currently the Juvenile Collection Development Librarian for the Kenton County Public Library. Terri Diebel is a Children’s Librarian at the Covington Branch. Both hold Masters of Library Science degrees and have worked in the field of Children’s Literature for many years. In recent years, they have collaborated on presentations at local, state, and national library and literature conferences.
“Children’s literature is our passion. Through this blog, we hope to share that enthusiasm and love of children’s books. As children’s literature enthusiasts, our blog name pays homage to the classic children’s poem from 1889, ‘Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,’ by Eugene Field.”