Want to ease some of your child’s first-day-of-school butterflies? Cozy up together and read a story that will give them a better understanding of what’s ahead. The books we’re suggesting don’t gloss over the fact that kids may feel apprehensive about starting school – they address it head-on with patience, positivity, and humor.

Here is our list of recommended reading before the first day:

The Pigeon has to go to schoolThe Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems

Published just last year, this is a must-read in the hilarious Pigeon series. The Pigeon has attitude and personality to burn, but he isn’t on board with the whole going-to-school thing. He vents his concerns with his usual dramatic flair… until he realizes that there is a bus involved.

Miss BindergartenMiss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff

This charming book features a canine teacher, Miss Bindergarten, and her 26 animal students (each representing a letter of the alphabet). The unhurried pace and rhyming phrases have a calming effect, continually circling back to the hardworking educator who is preparing to welcome the newcomers.

Princess Cupcake JonesPrincess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go to School by Ylleya Fields, illustrated by Michael LaDuca

This is the second book in the Princess Cupcake Jones series, and the main character is initially adamant that she does not want to go to school. As the rhyming story progresses, her mother (“the Queen”) coaches her through her nervousness, and Cupcake ends up meeting a new friend named Violet.

David Goes to School

David Goes to School by David Shannon

David is not the “sit still and listen” type, to say the least. His outlandish antics are a clear lesson in “what not to do” – which, of course, is wildly entertaining to kids. Author/illustrator David Shannon paints a vivid picture (literally) of David’s over-the-top behavior and the resulting chaos.

 Llama llama misses mama

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

In this story, an adorable llama preschooler feels sad after saying goodbye to his mother. Luckily, his kind-hearted zebra teacher says it’s okay to feel this way, and reminds him that Llama Mama will return at the end of the day. This book’s simple phrasing and rhymes make it equally suitable for kids heading to daycare or kindergarten. 

Dad's first day

Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka

This heartwarming book turns the tables on the usual “first day” jitters – it’s the dad who’s having them, not the son. Be prepared laugh out loud… and to see a little bit of yourself in the mournful face of Oliver’s father.

Time for school mouseTime for School, Mouse by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

Remember the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? He’s busy assembling his gear and supplies for school, which results in a needle-in-a-haystack search for some missing homework. This book is a quick read, with short sentences and cute illustrations.

Wemberly worriedWemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Also starring a mouse as its main character, this book is about Wemberly, who worries about everything. If your child is feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of attending school, a book like this may soothe her fears. Despite her concerns, Wemberly ends up bonding with a classmate when they discover that they both rely on a stuffed animal to help them cope with stress.

My name is YoonMy Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Yoon likes the way her name looks when written in Korean, but she now faces the task of learning to write it in English, at her new American school. Reluctant to do this, she experiments with using different English words as her name. Yoon’s honesty in the story shows kids that it’s normal to feel uncomfortable in new situations.

 Adventures to school

Adventures to School: Real-Life Journeys of Students from Around the World by Baptiste and Miranda Paul, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz

This book describes the unique (and sometimes extreme) ways that students in other countries travel to school. The elaborate illustrations and international stories will expand your child’s view of the school experience in other parts of the world.

As the first day of school draws near, try looking through one of these books (or another family favorite) with your child. If you don’t have access to a print copy, search your local library’s website for eBooks, or do an online search with the book title and the words “read aloud.” Many teachers (and even some kids!) have created YouTube videos with expressive readings of these well-known classics.


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