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Starting School: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about starting school?

Starting school for the first time, starting a new school after a move or educational advancement, or just starting a new grade can be nerve-racking, scary, and exciting. One of the best ways to help your child feel comfortable with this new transition is to read about it. They’ll sympathize with how these characters feel and learn through their experiences that starting up school isn’t as scary as it sounds, it’s actually very fun and full of wonderful opportunities.

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Top 10 Books About Starting School

#1
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Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle
This is a fantastic read. It's one of those books that changes you. I like that Palacio gives us the story through Auggie- Auggie (And Via at certain points) tells us the story from his 10-year-old perspective. Auggie's story is unique, but at the same time it's a story that we can all relate to. Auggie struggles with physical challenges that most of us don't, but I don't think the book is supposed to be about the physical challenges. It's really about the emotional battles he faces that we all encounter. What's more, it's a book that reminds us that others are going through silent challenges too. Wonder is a story that forces us to reconsider how we are treating those that are in our lives. Auggie is physically deformed because of birth and development complications, but he is a strong individual that speaks to us about the unfairness, bullying, betrayal, happiness, and love that we all go through.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

#2
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Maple and Willow Apart
Written & illustrated by Lori Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Funny, relatable sibling dynamics make this story a wonderful way to address navigating big changes. Lori Nichols’s expressive artwork beautifully portrays Maple and Willow’s strong bond, and children will love the creative, kid-powered solution.

Maple and Willow have always been inseparable. So what happens when Maple starts big-girl school and Willow stays behind? Well, of course, both girls have marvelous adventures of their own, but the truth is, they miss each other. And when they see that the missing is mutual, they find a unique way to feel connected even when they have to be apart.

#3
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The Kissing Hand
Written by Audrey Penn & illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.

#4
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We Don't Eat Our Classmates
Written & illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . . Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

#5
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The Invisible Boy
Written by Trudy Ludwig & illustrated by Patrice Barton
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The book is gorgeously and emotionally illustrated, letting the colors speak to the emotions of Brian —the invisible boy— in this story. A powerful reminder that bullying takes many forms and that one person and one act of kindness can truly make a difference, even if they're the only one.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend…

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

#6
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Chrysanthemum
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….

#7
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Wemberly Worried
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Thoughts from The Goodfather
Wemberly Worried is a good addition to the library of any young reader who struggles with worrying. The book can help start a conversation about worrying needlessly and choosing to replace worry with hope and confidence.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start.And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.

#8
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Lost and Found
Written by Andrew Clements & illustrated by Mark Elliott
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
The idea of having a twin and swapping places has always seemed intriguing, but Lost and Found does a great job demonstrating what such an experience might actually be like as these twins start a new school after moving, along with teaching the valuable lessons of being honest and loving the family you have!
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old identical twins Jay and Ray have long resented that everyone treats them as one person, and so they hatch a plot to take advantage of a clerical error at their new school and pretend they are just one.

#9
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The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst & illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This sweet story is such a sweet read to help little ones realize that they're connected to the ones they love, even when they're not nearby. Whether that's because a family member passed away, or maybe the child is starting their first day of school, this one will bring comfort and all the good feelings!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.

#10
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Maisy Goes to Preschool
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Going to preschool is a lot more fun with a friend like Maisy to show you the ropes! Preschool for Maisy means a day filled with friends and things to do, from the time she hangs her coat on a special peg to the time she says good-bye. There’s painting and snack time, stories and nap time (and a bathroom break in between). Soon everyone’s ready to haul out the instruments and make some noise, then head outside for a turn at the sandbox or slide. In a bright, full-size storybook full of familiar scenes, this child-friendly look at a day in the life of a preschooler is one that newcomers and seasoned pros alike will be happy to share.

Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Starting School and...

Books About Starting School and Family

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The Kissing Hand
Written by Audrey Penn & illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.

Add to list
Chrysanthemum
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….

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The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst & illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This sweet story is such a sweet read to help little ones realize that they're connected to the ones they love, even when they're not nearby. Whether that's because a family member passed away, or maybe the child is starting their first day of school, this one will bring comfort and all the good feelings!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.

Honorable Mentions
Llama Llama Misses Mama book
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The Unicorn Came to Dinner book
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Don't Go to School! book
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The Night Before Kindergarten book
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  1. Llama Llama Misses Mama - Strange new teacher. Strange new toys. Lots of kids and lots of noise! What would Llama like to do? Llama Llama feels so new . . . It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool! And Llama Llama’s mama makes sure he’s ready. They meet the teachers. See the other children. Look at all the books and games. But then it’s time for Mama to leave. And suddenly Llama Llama isn’t so excited anymore. Will Mama Llama come back? Of course she will. But before she does, the other children show Llama Llama how much fun school can be!

  2. The Unicorn Came to Dinner - A sweet and charming picture book about fear, anxiety, and unicorns. The unicorn smells nice, but she is very rude. She never waits for an invitation to come over―she walks right in and tracks heart-shaped hoof-prints across the carpet. She sits in Elizabeth’s chair and makes a complete mess of the house. She even sleeps in Elizabeth’s bed. But the unicorn is no ordinary unicorn . . . In The Unicorn Came to Dinner, author Lauren DeStefano and illustrator Gaia Cornwall invite parents and their kids to talk about feelings―especially worries and anxiety―and ultimately about how to be yourself.

  3. Don't Go to School! - Benno is really excited about his first day at school. But there’s one problem: Mommy! “DON’T GO TO SCHOOL!” she wails. “STAY HERE WITH ME!” Can the brave little bear convince Mom that everything’s okay? He comes up with an ingenious idea to help her adjust—one that many parents will recognize. Kids will love this laugh-out-loud twist on a familiar theme.

  4. The Night Before Kindergarten - ‘Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared, kids were excited, and a little bit scared. It’s the first day of school! Join the kids as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all—saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. But maybe it won’t be so hard once they discover just how much fun kindergarten really is! Colorful illustrations illuminate this uplifting takeoff on the classic Clement C. Moore Christmas poem.

Want to see books about family?

Books About Starting School and Friendship

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Maple and Willow Apart
Written & illustrated by Lori Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Funny, relatable sibling dynamics make this story a wonderful way to address navigating big changes. Lori Nichols’s expressive artwork beautifully portrays Maple and Willow’s strong bond, and children will love the creative, kid-powered solution.

Maple and Willow have always been inseparable. So what happens when Maple starts big-girl school and Willow stays behind? Well, of course, both girls have marvelous adventures of their own, but the truth is, they miss each other. And when they see that the missing is mutual, they find a unique way to feel connected even when they have to be apart.

Add to list
Lost and Found
Written by Andrew Clements & illustrated by Mark Elliott
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
The idea of having a twin and swapping places has always seemed intriguing, but Lost and Found does a great job demonstrating what such an experience might actually be like as these twins start a new school after moving, along with teaching the valuable lessons of being honest and loving the family you have!
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old identical twins Jay and Ray have long resented that everyone treats them as one person, and so they hatch a plot to take advantage of a clerical error at their new school and pretend they are just one.

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All are welcome
Written by Alexandra Penfold & illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

Honorable Mentions
Junie B., First Grader (at Last!) book
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The Kid in the Red Jacket book
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Truman book
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The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 1: Locker Hero book
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  1. Junie B., First Grader (at Last!) - Junie B. thinks first grade is a flop when her kindergarten friend Lucille prefers the company of twins Camille and Chenille and Junie B. needs glasses.

  2. The Kid in the Red Jacket - Howard Jeeter has moved across the country and his only friend is an annoying six-year-old girl. Of course, when you’re really lonely, you’ll be friends with anyone—almost.

  3. Truman - After his best friend Sarah leaves for her first day of school, a tortoise named Truman goes on an adventure across the living room and learns to be brave in this thoughtful and heartwarming twist on a first experience story. Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the trash trucks and the number eleven bus, which travels south. He never worries about the world below…until one day, when Sarah straps on a big backpack and does something Truman has never seen before. She boards the bus! Truman waits for her to return. He waits. And waits. And waits. And when he can wait no longer, he knows what he must do. Even if it seems…impossible!

  4. The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 1: Locker Hero - Questioning his resolve to attend public school after being homeschooled when he is targeted by a bully, Max aspires to become like his favorite comic book heroes and finds an unexpected opportunity to be the hero his middle school needs.

Books About Starting School and The First Day Of School

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We Don't Eat Our Classmates
Written & illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . . Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

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I Am Too Absolutely Small for School
Written & illustrated by Lauren Child
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Lola is not so sure about school. After all, why would she need to count higher than ten when she never eats more than ten cookies at a time? Once again, it’s up to ever-patient big brother Charlie to persuade Lola that school is worthwhile — and that her invisible friend, Soren Lorensen, will be welcome, too.

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Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School
Written by Herman Parish & illustrated by Lynne Avril
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Amelia Bedelia—she’ll grow on you! Amelia Bedelia is sure she will love everything about school: New friends A new teacher Her own desk Music, books, gym, art Recess and lunch

Honorable Mentions
Sophie's Squash Go to School book
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The pout-pout fish goes to school book
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Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School book
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The Best Seat in Kindergarten book
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  1. Sophie's Squash Go to School - “This charming sequel to the beloved Sophie’s Squash is the perfect antidote to the back-to-school jitters. Sophie goes to school for the first time and has no interest in making friends that aren’t squash. Here’s a gently humorous read-aloud that proves that making friends, just like growing squash, takes time. a On Sophie’s first day of school, nobody appreciates her two best friends, Bonnie and Baxter, baby squash that she grew in her garden. Even worse, one classmate, Steven Green, won’t leave Sophie alone. He sits by her at circle time. He plays near her during recess. And he breathes on her while she paints. Steven just wants to be friends, but Sophie isn’t interested. Still, Sophie knows that her squash friends won’t last forever. Maybe it would be nice to have some human friends after all. . . .”

  2. The pout-pout fish goes to school - An unabridged board book edition of a Pout-Pout Fish favorite! The New York Times–bestselling Pout-Pout Fish returns for the first day of school. Mr. Fish is nervously awaiting his first day of school, and he frets about not knowing how to write his name, how to draw shapes, and how to do math—until he’s reassured that school is the perfect place to learn how to master all of these new skills, in Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School from Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna.

  3. Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School - Catchy rhymes and visual cues introduce young readers to the people they meet on their first day of school. The clues in each lively verse can be spotted hanging from the clotheslines. From teacher to custodian, from crossing guard to new friends, who wears what? Full color.

  4. The Best Seat in Kindergarten - On the first day of kindergarten, everyone is new at school—including Sam! Beginning readers will love this warm introduction to all the excitement and uncertainty of starting kindergarten. From the team who wrote and illustrated The Best Seat in Second Grade, this prequel is a heartfelt story that’s perfect for all children getting ready for kindergarten and other big early steps. It’s Sam’s first day of kindergarten, and he’s not so sure what to expect. Sam’s teacher, Ms. Tate, takes the class on a nature walk, and at the very end, everyone gets to show off what they found! Sam makes new friends when he helps everyone find interesting things for show-and-tell. The Best Seat in Kindergarten is a My First I Can Read book, which means it’s perfect for shared reading with a child.

Books About Starting School and Teachers

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Not This Bear
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli & illustrated by Lorna Hussey
Thoughts from Grammy
This story makes a lovely addition to the 'first-day-of-school' canon. I like the sweet way that bear clings to his comfortable/familiar, and his loyalty to the life he has known thus far. Mr. Brown has a gentle manner of introducing bear to the exciting new world of school without forcing bear to engage past his comfort zone. Given the time and space to be ready for new experiences, bear gradually finds his way, and a new friend as well.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

It’s Bear’s first day of school, and he’s a bit reluctant to go. Mama says all bears love school; Bear isn’t so sure. But school turns out to be full of fun—painting pictures, listening to stories, and making new friends. Maybe this bear will like school after all.

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Mae's First Day of School
Written & illustrated by Kate Berube
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
A great book for helping with starting school jitters! Mae is able to face her fears about going to school with the help of some new friends who help her realize that she's not the only one a little nervous about how the first day will go down—hooray for sharing cookies.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The first day of school can be scary for everyone—not just the students. As Mae gets ready for her very first day, she reflects on all the things she’s afraid of. What if the other kids don’t like her? What if she can’t learn to read? What if she misses her mom? On the way to school, she decides that instead of facing all the unknowns, it would be much easier to climb up into her favorite tree and wait there until school is over. As other kids pass by, they, too, share their own fears with Mae, and she learns that everyone gets nervous about trying new things, even her teacher! Together, Mae and her new friends decide to face the day and celebrate new beginnings, hand in hand.

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Dotty
Written by Erica S Perl & illustrated by Julia Denos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s Ida’s first day of school. She carries her new lunch box and a long, blue string with her special friend Dotty attached to it. A big, colorfully spotted pal with horns, Dotty just happens to be invisible. On that first day of school, Ida and Dotty find out there are plenty of other imaginary friends in attendance. But as the year passes and fewer and fewer imaginary friends come to class, Ida begins to wonder if Dotty is welcome at school anymore . . . Perceptive and warmly funny, with charming art from exciting illustrator Julia Denos, Dotty is a celebration of the power of friendship and imagination.

Honorable Mentions
First Day Critter Jitters book
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First Day Jitters book
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  1. First Day Critter Jitters - First-day-of-school jitters have never been funnier or more reassuring than in this picture book by the New York Times bestselling author Jory John and critically acclaimed illustrator Liz Climo It’s almost the first day of school, and the animals are nervous. Sloth worries about getting there on time, snake can’t seem to get his backpack fastened onto his body, and bunny is afraid she’ll want to hop around instead of sitting still. When they all arrive at their classroom, though, they’re in for a surprise: Somebody else is nervous too. It’s their teacher, the armadillo! He has rolled in as a ball, and it takes him a while to relax and unfurl. But by the next day, the animals have all figured out how to help one another through their jitters. School isn’t so scary after all.

  2. First Day Jitters - Sarah is afraid to start at a new school, but both she and the reader are in for a surprise when she gets to her class.

Want to see books about teachers?

Books About Starting School and Animals

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Maisy Goes to Preschool
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Going to preschool is a lot more fun with a friend like Maisy to show you the ropes! Preschool for Maisy means a day filled with friends and things to do, from the time she hangs her coat on a special peg to the time she says good-bye. There’s painting and snack time, stories and nap time (and a bathroom break in between). Soon everyone’s ready to haul out the instruments and make some noise, then head outside for a turn at the sandbox or slide. In a bright, full-size storybook full of familiar scenes, this child-friendly look at a day in the life of a preschooler is one that newcomers and seasoned pros alike will be happy to share.

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Froggy Goes to School
Written by Jonathan London & illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Froggy’s mother knows that everyone’s nervous on the first day of school. “Not me!” says Froggy, and together they leapfrog to the bus stop — flop flop flop. Froggy’s exuberant antics will delight his many fans and reassure them that school can be fun.

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Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
Written by Joseph Slate & illustrated by Ashley Wolff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This rhyming, brightly illustrated book is the perfect way to practice the alphabet and to introduce young children to kindergarten.

It’s the first day of kindergarten and Miss Bindergarten is hard at work getting the classroom ready for her twenty-six new students. Meanwhile, Adam Krupp wakes up, Brenda Heath brushes her teeth, and Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker. Miss Bindergarten puts the finishing touches on the room just in time, and the students arrive. Now the fun can begin!

Honorable Mentions
So Big! book
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It's the First Day of Kindergarten, Chloe Zoe! book
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Rufus Goes to School book
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  1. So Big! - A simple, clever text paired with utterly adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all! Bear is so big, and he’s ready to start school! But even if you’re SO BIG, you might feel a little nervous at times. Can Bear brave his first day and find a way to make it feel just right? A clever and charming story, So Big! will help young readers through all the important first steps in life. Acclaim for Dad’s First Day Bank Street Best Children’s Books of 2016—outstanding merit title Acclaim for Moo! An ALA Notable book A BCCB Blue Ribbon selection

  2. It's the First Day of Kindergarten, Chloe Zoe! - Chloe Zoe is starting kindergarten! Full days of school for a full week. Chloe Zoe has a new backpack and matching lunch box and is so excited to see her best friends Mary Margaret and George. On the first day of school, Chloe Zoe discovers Mary Margaret is in a different kindergarten class. Will kindergarten be any fun without her best friend?

  3. Rufus Goes to School - Rufus Leroy Williams III wants to go to school to learn to read but the principal at first refuses because Rufus is a pig.

Want to see books about animals?

Books About Starting School and Self-esteem

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The Invisible Boy
Written by Trudy Ludwig & illustrated by Patrice Barton
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The book is gorgeously and emotionally illustrated, letting the colors speak to the emotions of Brian —the invisible boy— in this story. A powerful reminder that bullying takes many forms and that one person and one act of kindness can truly make a difference, even if they're the only one.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend…

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

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The Day You Begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by Rafael López
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
If you've ever moved and started school in a place not like your home that you left, this book is for you! I love the diversity and that it can inspire the empathy and kindness to include others and be sensitive to what others might be going through, if you're not in this situation, yourself.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

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The King of Kindergarten
Written by Derrick Barnes & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A New York Times betseller!

A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Crown.

The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten!

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone—and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements—and then wake up to start another day.

Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes’s empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s illustrations exude joy.

Honorable Mentions
Karma Khullar's Mustache book
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Lily's Cat Mask book
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  1. Karma Khullar's Mustache - In the tradition of Judy Blume, debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this “sparkling and triumphant tale of a middle school misfit” (Heather Vogel Frederick). Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

  2. Lily's Cat Mask - Armed with a vivid imagination and her trusty cat mask, Lily can take on anything–even a new school… But when her teacher tells her no masks allowed in class, Lily worries, can she make friends without it? Anyone who has been daunted by a new experience, or struggled to put on a good face, will relate to Lily. Whimsical art brings Lily, her father, and her new classmates to life, with text that begs to be read aloud. Perfect for Father’s Day, back to school, and even Halloween–Lily and her grinning cat mask are sure to make you smile back.

Books About Starting School and Trying New Things

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Wemberly Worried
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Thoughts from The Goodfather
Wemberly Worried is a good addition to the library of any young reader who struggles with worrying. The book can help start a conversation about worrying needlessly and choosing to replace worry with hope and confidence.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start.And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.

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Lena's Shoes Are Nervous
Written by Keith Calabrese & illustrated by Juana Medina
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem… Lena’s shoes are nervous. Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?

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No Place Like Home
Written by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Having to move a lot because of her father’s job, Kenzie is happy when an extended assignment allows her to enroll in a Las Vegas middle school, where she takes risks by revealing her crush, auditioning for a play, and running for student council.

Honorable Mentions
Splat the Cat book
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Fairy's First Day of School book
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  1. Splat the Cat - It’s Splat’s first day of school and he’s worried. What if he doesn’t make any new friends? Just in case, Splat decides to bring along his pet mouse, Seymour, and hides him in his lunchbox. The teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, introduces Splat to the class and he soon starts learning all his important cat lessons. But when Seymour escapes and the cats do what cats do (they chase mice!), Splat’s worried again. Maybe now he’ll lose all his friends, old and new! Just in time, wise Mrs. Wimpydimple takes charge and teaches everyone an important new lesson. Maybe Cat School is going to be okay after all!

  2. Fairy's First Day of School - In this humorous and reassuring picture book from the author of Mustache Baby, a sweet fairy has a fun-filled first day at school. Her experience is remarkably similar to the first day of preschool for human children. From circle time (sitting crisscross berry sauce) to center time (art, spells, tooth), all the activities one might encounter at school are explored, with sweet fairy-like touches. Best of all is the kind, warm teacher and plenty of new friends. The perfect story to ease fears and build anticipation for any child—human or fairy—starting school for the first time.

Books About Starting School and Making Friends

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Kindergarten, Here I Come!
Written by D.J. Steinberg & illustrated by Mark Chambers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Get ready for school with these fun poems!

This adorable picture book celebrates all the familiar milestones and moments shared by every single kindergartener. Whether it’s the first-day-of-school jitters or the hundredth-day-of-school party, every aspect of the kindergarten experience is introduced with a light and funny poem–not to mention charming illustrations.

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Albie Newton
Written by Josh Funk & illustrated by Ester Garay
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Meet Albie Newton: child genius. But when this whiz of an inventor enters a new preschool, his perfect plan for making friends turns into a disaster: he steals the hamster’s wheel, snatches the wings off a toy airplane, and generally creates a giant mess. Now everyone’s angry! Will his new invention delight the other kids enough to make everything right—and win their friendship?

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The Truth About My Unbelievable School . . .
Written by Davide Cali & illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Beware of . . . this school?! Henry is taking his new classmate on a whirlwind tour of their school. Mysterious inventions lurk, the cafeteria requires ninja skills, and some teachers may be monsters! Is this fantastical school to be believed? Or is there an even more outrageous surprise in store? Celebrated international author-illustrator team Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud—the duo behind Junior Library Guild selections I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . and The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer . . . —are back with yet another rollicking tale about truth, lies, and . . . school!

Honorable Mentions
A New School for Charlie book
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The Un-Friendship Bracelet book
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First Day Friends book
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It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! book
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  1. A New School for Charlie - Charlie is excited about his first day at a new school, but when he gets there, he finds it full of cats! The difference is quite a shock for Charlie, who isn’t sure how to cope. How can he make new friends? He may find the answer he’s looking for in the library…

  2. The Un-Friendship Bracelet - In the first book of the Craftily Ever After chapter book series, a new student gets between best friends Emily and Maddie—and changes the meaning of their friendship bracelets! Emily Adams, Maddie Wilson, Bella Diaz, and Sam Sharma are eight-year-olds with one special thing in common: they love to create. They each have unique talents, too! Emily is great at constructing and building; Maddie has an eye for fashion, fabrics, and sewing; Bella is a gadget whiz; and Sam is a gifted artist. Together, these four crafty friends dream up new projects to design, build, and create and through their experiences, they’ll learn how to handle various obstacles at school and in their everyday eight-year-old lives. In the first Craftily Ever After book, best friends Emily and Maddie are so close that they spend most of their free time together, and wear matching friendship bracelets, too! One day, a new student named Bella Diaz shows up at Mason Creek Elementary. Maddie immediately befriends her, discovering that she too is really crafty. As Maddie and Bella spend more time together, Emily finds herself spending more time alone…until she realizes that the boy who’s been sitting next to her in class this whole time loves to draw and create just like she does. When Emily’s friendship bracelet falls off and Maddie doesn’t even notice, Emily begins to think that maybe it was an un-friendship bracelet after all. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Craftily Ever After chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

  3. First Day Friends - Dinosaurs are a year-round favorite for children of all ages, and the Dinosaur Pals series delivers lovable stories with bright illustrations, irresistible characters, and situations all kids can relate to. In First Day Friends, meet a new friendly fivesome of cuddly creatures to fall in love with: Kevin, the shy, new spinosaurus in town; Ty, a rambunctious T-Rex; Kayla, a nature-loving stegosaurus; Addy, a friendly apatosaurus; and Max, a slow (but determined!) triceratops. Together, these dinos learn all about being themselves, and letting others be who they are, too. With relatable situations—like the first day of school in a new town—that sometimes bring out troubling emotions, First Day Friends equips children with the tools to understand feelings, differences, and everything that makes us special.

  4. It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! - Today is the very first day of school! Busy Bus is excited, but he also has some first-day jitters. Will the children like him? Will he be homesick? What if he gets lost?! Luckily, bus driver Ben knows just what to do to make sure that the school year gets off to a great start.

Books About Starting School and Being Different

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Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle
This is a fantastic read. It's one of those books that changes you. I like that Palacio gives us the story through Auggie- Auggie (And Via at certain points) tells us the story from his 10-year-old perspective. Auggie's story is unique, but at the same time it's a story that we can all relate to. Auggie struggles with physical challenges that most of us don't, but I don't think the book is supposed to be about the physical challenges. It's really about the emotional battles he faces that we all encounter. What's more, it's a book that reminds us that others are going through silent challenges too. Wonder is a story that forces us to reconsider how we are treating those that are in our lives. Auggie is physically deformed because of birth and development complications, but he is a strong individual that speaks to us about the unfairness, bullying, betrayal, happiness, and love that we all go through.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

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A Tiger Tail
Written & illustrated by Mike Boldt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Anya awakens to discover she has grown a tiger tail, and it just happens to be her very first day of school.

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Twig
Written & illustrated by Aura Parker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Heidi is a stick insect, tall and long like the twig of a tree. It’s her first day at a busy bug school, where she hopes to learn and make new friends. But finding friends isn’t easy when no one can find you!

Honorable Mentions
Friends book
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Ally-saurus & the First Day of School book
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Eppie the Elephant (Who Was Allergic to Peanuts) book
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Hannah Sparkles: Hooray for the First Day of School! book
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  1. Friends - A girl from a faraway place begins her first day at school. She doesn’t speak the language and she looks different. She just doesn’t fit in. But one day, she makes an unexpected friend—a squirrel! Then a rabbit joins them. Soon the girl’s fuzzy woodland friends are followed by human ones and school becomes more fun! When a surprising new student joins the class, the girl and her new friends know just how to make him feel at home.

  2. Ally-saurus & the First Day of School - You can call her Ally-SAURUS! When Ally roars off to her first day at school, she hopes she’ll meet lots of other dinosaur-mad kids in class. Instead, she’s the only one chomping her food with fierce dino teeth and drawing dinosaurs on her nameplate. Even worse, a group of would-be “princesses” snubs her! Will Ally ever make new friends? With its humorous art, appealing heroine, and surprise ending, this fun picture book celebrates children’s boundless imagination.

  3. Eppie the Elephant (Who Was Allergic to Peanuts) - Go on a school-time adventure with Eppie, the elephant who is allergic to peanuts! It’s the first day of school for Eppie the elephant, and she’s a bit nervous about one thing: that her new classmates won’t understand her allergy to nuts. Like many kids today, this fun-loving elephant can’t partake in peanuts, pecans, or pistachios and has to be careful about what she eats. Eppie makes fast friends with Allie the alligator and Pearl the squirrel, but when Eppie’s allergy is explained at lunch, will her friends still stand by her side? Readers of all ages will relate to this heartwarming, lyrical story of understanding and acceptance.

  4. Hannah Sparkles: Hooray for the First Day of School! - Cheer along with Hannah Sparkles on her first day of school! Hannah Sparkles and her best friend, Sunny Everbright, are ready for first grade. Their day starts as perfect as pom-poms…until Hannah and Sunny are seated far apart in the classroom. Even worse, Hannah is having trouble making new friends. It’s going to take some extra thinking for Hannah to learn that sometimes being a good listener is the best way to be a good friend. Perfect for fans of Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious, Hannah Sparkles’s second story is sure to bring sparkly smiles to new readers who are just starting school too.

Books About Starting School and Facing Fears

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The Night Before Preschool
Written by Natasha Wing & illustrated by Amy Wummer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

It’s the night before preschool, and a little boy named Billy is so nervous he can’t fall asleep. The friends he makes the next day at school give him a reason not to sleep the next night, either: he’s too excited about going back! The book’s simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations will soothe any child’s fears about the first day of school.

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School Is Coming
Written by Dany Aubert & illustrated by Eve Tharlet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A touching, helpful story that tackles the school anxieties that so many young children face when starting kindergarten.

School is right around the corner, but Martin isn’t feeling very excited to begin kindergarten. His little sister, on the other hand, wishes she had a chance to pack a backpack, play ball with all her friends, and have teachers read stories to her. “He’s so lucky!” she exclaims. Gently, Martin’s mother helps him overcome his anxieties as she prepares him for what school will be like. By the time summer is over, Martin is feeling more confident than ever that school is the right place for a big kid like him.

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The Night Before First Grade
Written by Natasha Wing & illustrated by Deborah Zemke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

It’s the night before the Big Day—first grade. Penny is excited to start the year with her best friend right beside her in the same classroom. This humorous take on Clement C. Moore’s classic tale has a perfect twist ending that will surprise readers—as well as the “heroine” of the story—and help all about-to-be first-graders through their own back-to-school jitters.

Honorable Mentions
Butterflies on the First Day of School book
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Me and My Fear book
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Roar and Sparkles Go to School book
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  1. Butterflies on the First Day of School - Rosie’s excited to start kindergarten—she’s had her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she greets a new friend, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! Soon, Rosie frees all her butterflies . . . and helps another shy student release hers, too.

  2. Me and My Fear - “With its warm palette and gentle scenes of the worried child being comforted, this book could function as a sequel to Sanna’s astounding debut picture book, The Journey, which recounted a family’s dangerous flight from their home in a war zone. Sanna provides an empathetic exploration of the adjustment to a new land that all migrants experience.”—New York Times Book Review Introducing a companion picture book to the award-winning picture book, The Journey, from rising star Francesca Sanna. When a young immigrant girl has to travel to a new country and start at a new school, she is accompanied by her Fear who tells her to be alone and afraid, growing bigger and bigger every day with questions like “how can you hope to make new friends if you don’t understand their language?” But this little girl is stronger than her Fear. A heart-warming and timely tale from the bestselling author and illustrator of The Journey, this book shows us the importance of sharing your Fear with others—after all, everyone carries a Fear with them, even if it’s small enough to fit into their pocket!

  3. Roar and Sparkles Go to School - Roar is worried about his first day at school. He’s worried that he’ll have to do really hard things, like molt his scales and fly over a volcano. His big sister Sparkles reassures him, but Roar still worries. The first day of school arrives and Roar is pleasantly surprised! Instead of having to breathe fire, he gets to kick fireballs in gym class. He also gets to make popsicle-stick caves in art and to listen to stores about Johnny Apple-dragon and Cinder-dragonella during circle time. And when he’s asked to draw something he loves before the day is over, he figures out just how to thank Sparkles for her sisterly support. Roar and Sparkles is a sweet story about the anxieties children may feel about attending school for the first time, as well as a comforting tale about the bond between siblings. Sarah Beth Durst’s imaginative and playful script is enhanced by Ben Whitehouse’s modern and fresh illustrations to create a book that’s sure to squelch first-day-of-school worries for children.

Books About Starting School and New Experiences

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Isadora moon goes to school
Written by Harriet Muncaster
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Meet Isadora Moon! She’s half-fairy, half-vampire and totally unique!

Isadora Moon loves sunshine — and nighttime. She loves her magic wand — and her black tutu. She loves spooky bats — and Pink Rabbit. Isadora is half-fairy, half-vampire, and she’s special because she is different!

Now Isadora’s parents want her to start school, but she’s not sure where she belongs — fairy school or vampire school?

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All Welcome Here
Written by James Preller & illustrated by Mary GrandPré
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

With gorgeous multimedia paintings-and-collages by acclaimed artist Mary GrandPre, James Preller’s All Welcome Here promises to be an evergreen gift picture book for children about to take the big leap into their first days of school.

The bus door swishes
Open, an invitation.
Someone is not sure . . .

The first day of school and all its excitement, challenges, and yes, anxieties, are celebrated here in connected haiku poems. A diverse cast of characters all start―and finish―their first days of school, and have experiences that all children will relate to.

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Sunday Sundaes
Written & illustrated by Coco Simon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Enjoy a sprinkle of happy with this fun, sweet new series from the author of Cupcake Diaries! Meet the Sunday Sundae Sisters! Allie, Sierra, and Tamiko have been best friends since kindergarten. Now Allie’s parents are divorced and Allie has moved one town away. She can still see her friends but she no longer goes to the same middle school. So that means new teachers, new classrooms, and new students to deal with—all without her BFFs for support. But when Allie’s mom decides to fulfill her lifelong dream and open up an ice cream shop, Allie has an idea. Maybe she and her friends can work in the shop every Sunday! It’s a way for them to stay in touch every week and have fun—that is, of course, until they actually start working.

Honorable Mentions
Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School book
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I Got the School Spirit book
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Five Little Ducks Go to School book
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Kisses for Kindergarten book
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  1. Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School - Get ready to go back to school with the Pout-Pout Fish! Mr. Fish is going back to school to be a substitute teacher, and he’s nervous—until he meets a little guppy who can help him! At an affordable price point, and with two pages of stickers, this new format is fun and accessible for Mr. Fish’s fans and newcomers alike.

  2. I Got the School Spirit - This exuberant celebration of the first day of school illustrated by award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison will have every kid cheering for school to begin! Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! She hears the school spirit in the bus driving up the street—VROOM, VROOM!--and in the bell sounding in the halls—RING-A-DING! She sings the school spirit in class with her friends—ABC, 123! The school spirit helps us all strive and grow. What will you learn today? Don’t miss these other exuberant titles:
    I Got the Rhythm
    I Got the Christmas Spirit

  3. Five Little Ducks Go to School - It’s time for the five little ducklings to go to school. Four of the little ducklings shout, “YIPPEE! HOORAY! OH BOY! THAT’S COOL!” The fifth little duckling sobs, “BOO-HOO! I won’t go to school! I’m going to miss you!” But when Mama reminds them, “Even though we’ll be apart, we’ll still be in each other’s heart,” the little ducklings go forth and soon discover “School is great!”

  4. Kisses for Kindergarten - Join Stella Isabella Harden and her puppy Buster in this lyrical read-aloud and heartwarming story about the first day of kindergarten. Stella Isabella Harden contemplating kindergarten declared she didn’t have to go… because her puppy told her so. School is about to begin, and Stella Isabella Harden decides that kindergarten just isn’t for her. Instead, she decides to spend the day learning from her puppy named Buster. Together these two adventurers plan a day full of playtime, teatime, nap time, and story time. After every “lesson,” Stella gets the best reward: a kiss from her best friend and favorite puppy. But will she change her mind about kindergarten before the first day of school? Join Stella and Buster in this lyrical read-aloud and heartwarming story about growing up. 2017 Mom’s Choice Awards, Gold Award Recipient 2017 NAPPA Winner

Books About Starting School and School And Education

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Preschool, Here I Come!
Written by David J. Steinberg & illustrated by John Joven
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Get ready for a year full of firsts by the author of Kindergarten, Here I Come! From saying goodbye to parents on the very first day of school to learning classroom rules, D. J. Steinberg brings to life all the details of preschool in his fun, silly poems. Because preschool is full of firsts! Get ready for all those moments with poems that celebrate the joy of making friends, bring to life the challenges of learning, and even depict the frustration that we all sometimes feel. With poems on so many moments, this is a must-have for kids getting ready for their first day of preschool.

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A New School Year
Written by Sally Derby & illustrated by Mika Song
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

In a unique narrative, readers meet a diverse group of six children ranging in age from Kindergarten through fifth grade. With nerves and excitement each child gears up for a new school year by hustling in the morning, meeting new teachers and new classmates during the day, and heading home with homework and relief by day’s end.

Simple, bright illustrations focus on each child and his/her worries, hopes, and successes on the first day of school.

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My First Day at School
Written by Thomas Kingsley Troupe & illustrated by Kat Uno
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

What’s the first day of kindergarten like? Covering all the basics, from lockers and bathroom etiquette to playground rules and afternoon snack time, My First Day of School walks young readers through a typical first, first day of school, complete with kid-friendly, 1st-person narration and playful yet realistic illustrations.

Honorable Mentions
I'm Going to Preschool book
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The Class book
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Milk Goes to School book
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  1. I'm Going to Preschool - Every day your child is taking BIG STEPS forward—and preschool is one of them. This colorful board book, with vibrant art, cool novelty features, and valuable tips for parents on every page, helps them adjust to the changes. It’s Ben’s first day at preschool—what will it be like? He’s a little nervous, but this lift-the-flap board book shows him, and young readers, that there’s nothing to be afraid of! It gives a comforting glimpse into what life at school will be like, from meeting the teacher to fun activities to making new friends.

  2. The Class - Count along with twenty young students from nineteen different homes as they get ready for their first day of kindergarten. Alarm clocks go off and students all over town wake up and get ready for their big day. Some feel eager, others are nervous, and a few are even grumpy! But they all get dressed, eat breakfast, pack backpacks, and make their way to school, where they will meet their new teacher and become a wonderful new class. Boni Ashburn’s snappy rhyming text and Kimberly Gee’s adorable and diverse group of children make this a great pick for little ones getting ready for their first day of school.

  3. Milk Goes to School - “First days of school are tough, and making new friends is even tougher. Milk’s dad gave her a sparkly new backpack and told her that she was the creme de la creme, but most of the other kids don’t seem to agree. In fact, some of her new classmates think Milk is just little a bit spoiled. . . . In this latest hilarious picture book from Terry Border, our food friends go to school and learn that it’s not just Milk that’s the creme de la creme. Some other food can be just as sweet.”

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