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Our Favorite Back-To-School Books

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

At our house, we read A LOT of children's books, and we want to share some of our favorites with you! In this post, we've included our favorite back-to-school picture books, and we've listed them by recommended grade levels. Feel free to skim the list and see if any appeal to your family. We hope you enjoy!





Preschool Books



Open The Preschool Door Illustrated By: Christopher Santoro Published By: Penguin Random House LLC

Open the Preschool Door...

Illustrated By: Christopher Santoro

Publisher: Penguin Random House (2019)

Recommended Ages: 1+


Book Description: Preschoolers will love lifting 11 fun flaps to find a smiling teacher, a playground, a class pet, and much more in this exciting board book.


Why We Love It

  • Engaging flaps

  • Simple story

  • Question and answer format

  • Perfect introduction to school atmosphere; helps first-time preschoolers know what to expect




S Is for School! Written By: Andrea Posner-Sanchez Illustrated By: Tom Brannon Published By: Penguin Random House LLC

S Is for School!

Written By: Andrea Posner-Sanchez

Illustrated By: Tom Brannon

Publisher: Penguin Random House (2020)

Recommended Ages: 2+


Book Description: Head to school with Elmo, Abby, Big Bird, and other Sesame Street friends! Kids can lift more than 30 fun flaps as they join Elmo and his friends at an exciting day of school. This sturdy interactive board book is perfect for easing first-day-of-school jitters or entertaining a little student any day of the year!


Why We Love It

  • Lots of engaging flaps

  • Familiar characters help ease school jitters

  • Focuses on the most kid-friendly parts of school




Llama Llama Misses Mama By: Anna Dewdney

llama llama misses mama

By: Anna Dewdney

Publisher: Viking (2009)

Recommended Ages: 2+


Book Description:

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, and 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!


Why We Love It

  • Familiar characters help ease school jitters

  • Lets children know that it's okay to miss their parents while at school and reassures them that their parents will return at the end of the day

  • Shows kids how much fun school can be if they give it a chance




Lola Goes to School Written By: Anna McQuinn Illustrated By: Rosalind Beardshaw

Lola Goes to School

Written By: Anna McQuinn

Illustrated By: Rosalind Beardshaw

Publisher: Charlesbridge (2019)

Recommended Ages: 2+


Book Description: A comforting, cheerful read that demystifies the school day for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Lola and her family prepare for the first day of school the night before, then get up early, take pictures, and head to class. Lola puts her things in her cubby, chooses her activities, reads, plays, and has a snack. Before she knows it, it's time to sing the good-bye song and rush into Mommy's arms for a warm reunion.


Why We Love It:

  • Gentle introduction to school for first-time preschoolers

  • Includes the quintessential acts of preparation leading up to the first day of school

  • Main character is a human (unlike many other books I've listed) and is very relatable for young kids, especially girls




Time For School, Little Blue Truck Written By: Alice Schertle Illustrated By: John Joseph (in the style of Jill McElmurry)

Time For School, Little Blue Truck

Written By: Alice Schertle

Illustrated By: John Joseph (in the style of Jill McElmurry)

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2021)

Recommended Ages: 2+


Book Description: Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are excited to meet a bright yellow school bus on the road. They see all the little animals lined up in the school bus’s many windows, and Blue wishes he could be a school bus too. What a fun job—but much too big for a little pickup like Blue. Or is it? When somebody misses the bus, it’s up to Blue to get his friend to school on time. Beep! Beep! Vroom!


Why We Love It:

  • Classic Little Blue Truck story

  • Beautiful illustrations

  • Great message about helping out no matter your size




Choo-Choo School Written By: Amy Krouse Rosenthal Illustrated By: Mike Yamada

Choo-Choo School

Written By: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrated By: Mike Yamada

Publisher: Candlewick Press (2020)

Recommended Ages: 3+


Book Description: All aboard the train-car pool! A new lineup of students is off and rolling to Choo-Choo School. After reciting their classroom rules — Work hard, play fair, be kind — it’s time for some math to get the wheels turning. Then everyone’s ready to climb a hill in gym (it’s good to blow off steam), sing songs in music (Flat Car is a bit off-key), and learn the whole alphabet, especially the letter R. This book's lighthearted verse portrays a world where train stations are classrooms, the conductor doubles as the teacher, and Boxcar is happy to hand out tissues to anyone who ah-choo-choos.


Why We Love It:

  • We LOVE trains! 😃

  • Short, rhyming text that is full of energy and fun train terms

  • Each train car has a unique personality that shines on the page




Kindergarten Books



Kindergarten, Here I Come! Written By: D. J. Steinberg Illustrated By: Mark Chambers

Kindergarten, Here I Come!

Written By: D. J. Steinberg

Illustrated By: Mark Chambers

Publisher: Scholastic (2012)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: 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 and charming illustrations.


Why We Love It:

  • Collection of short poems

  • Covers many of the major milestones from the entire kindergarten year

  • Great for prepping any child who's starting kindergarten




The Kissing Hand

Written By: Audrey Penn

Illustrated By: Ruth E. Harper; Nancy M. Leak

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing (1993)

Recommended Ages: 3+


Book Description: School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.


Why We Love It:

  • Gentle, reassuring text and illustrations

  • Offers a simple, thoughtful trick for easing separation anxiety

  • Great for prepping any child who's starting preschool or kindergarten




The Berenstain Bears Go to School By: Stan & Jan Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears Go to School

By: Stan & Jan Berenstain

Publisher: Penguin Random House (1978)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: Come for a visit in Bear Country with this classic storybook from Stan and Jan Berenstain. All the cubs in Bear Country are ready for the new school year . . . except for Sister Bear. She is about to start kindergarten but can't stop worrying about what it will be like. Will her teacher be nice? Will she make friends? What will she do all day in class?


Why We Love It:

  • Familiar characters help ease school jitters

  • Portrays emotions that are relatable for kids who are starting or returning to school




Birdie's First Day of School By: Sujean Rim Publisher: Little, Brown and Co. (2015)

Birdie's First Day of School

By: Sujean Rim

Publisher: Little, Brown and Co. (2015)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: Tomorrow is Birdie's first day of school and she is just SO nervous. What will her teacher be like? What should she bring? What should she WEAR? When Birdie walks into her brand-new classroom . . . oh my! A whole new world opens up as she discovers all the fun and adventure that school has to offer.


Why We Love It:

  • Well-written, reassuring text

  • Relatable main character; kids can experience the nerves and excitement of the first day of school with Birdie

  • Love how the ending mirrors the beginning!




Perfect By: Max Amato

Perfect

By: Max Amato

Publisher: Scholastic (2019)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: In this funny and light-hearted picture book, a fussy eraser tries to keep the pages clean by erasing the scribbles of a mischievous pencil. But before long, the eraser discovers what can happen when two opposing forces come together to have fun. With humor and a keen eye for play, Max Amato crafts a delightful story that reveals the joys of collaborative imagination.


Why We Love It:

  • Creative concept

  • Funny

  • Most of the story is told through the pictures




School Is Cool! Written By: Sabrina Moyle Illustrated By: Eunice Moyle

School Is Cool!

Written By: Sabrina Moyle

Illustrated By: Eunice Moyle

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed (2021)

Recommended Ages: 3+


Book Description:

What you learn in school will last all year!

So how about a hooray-for-school cheer?


In this exuberant picture book, a friendly narrator prepares young readers for their first day of school with humor and encouragement. It's the perfect back-to-school book for those gearing up for their big day, whether they are worried about not knowing the rules, how to make friends, or how to fit in.


Why We Love It:

  • Cute, rhyming text

  • Bright, colorful illustrations with humorous elements

  • Comforting and encouraging tone





I Don't Want To Go To School! Written By: Lula Bell Illustrated By: Brian Fitzgerald

I Don't Want To Go To School!

Written By: Lula Bell

Illustrated By: Brian Fitzgerald

Publisher: Tiger Tales (2021)

Recommended Ages: 3+


Book Description: It's Mouse's first day of school. It's Dinosaur's first day of school. As each of them get ready for the first day of school, they definitely DON'T want to go! But when class begins, there is a very big surprise! A reassuring tale for those first-day-of-school jitters.


Why We Love It:

  • We LOVE dinos (maybe more than we love trains)! 😊

  • Same story shown from two very different characters' perspectives

  • Great reassuring surprise at the end

  • One of my two new favorite back-to-school books that we read this year!




1st Grade & Beyond Books



School Is Wherever I Am By: Ellie Peterson

School Is Wherever I Am

By: Ellie Peterson

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (2022)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description:

Is school only one place?

Are there other classrooms?

Different teachers?

New Lessons?


In this charming, thoughtful picture book, author-illustrator Ellie Peterson explores learning, adventure, and the thousands of the things you can discover outside of a classroom―about the world, about your family, about yourself. Because school is truly wherever you are.


Why We Love It:

  • Awesome message about finding opportunities to learn about the world no matter where you are

  • One of my two new favorite back-to-school books that we read this year!




And Then Comes School Written By: Tom Brenner Illustrated By: Jen Hill

And Then Comes School

Written By: Tom Brenner

Illustrated By: Jen Hill

Publisher: Candlewick Press (2023)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: Cooler mornings, cicadas buzzing, apples ripening . . . Can shopping for school supplies be far behind? The evening before the first day means laying out your outfit, loading up your backpack, and filling a lunch box with your favorite things. When the alarm goes off, there’s Dad’s extra-special breakfast (and, of course, some picture-taking), then the feeling of bubbly excitement as you and your friends climb onto a bus, ready to see your new classroom and meet your teacher. Whether the reader is a child who is eager to return to school or a younger one trying to imagine what school is like, this upbeat and lyrical ode holds sure appeal for returning students and first-timers alike.


Why We Love It:

  • Beautiful lyrical text with rich seasonal descriptions

  • Companion to And Then Comes Summer, one of my all-time favorite picture books




Sounds Like School Spirit Written By: Meg Fleming Illustrated By: Lucy Ruth Cummins

Sounds Like School Spirit

Written By: Meg Fleming

Illustrated By: Lucy Ruth Cummins

Publisher: Dial Books For Young Readers (2021)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: They have spirit, yes they do! Follow kids from circle time to the lunch line in this lively, rhyming picture book that perfectly matches the high energy of a new classroom. With a call and response like "We say ALPHA, you say BET," built into the text, kids will love reading and cheering along.


Why We Love It:

  • Feels like a pep rally in a book!

  • Avery and I love reading the chants together and switching parts!





Who Will U Be? By: Jessica Hische

Who Will U Be?

By: Jessica Hische

Publisher: Penguin Workshop (2023)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: It's the annual "Find Yourself Field Trip" at Ms. Bracket's School of Little Letters, and "u" couldn't be more excited. She can't wait to see all the ways letters are used in the world—they're on everything from books to boats, from sidewalks to spaceships! And it's starting to make her wonder about her own potential: Who will she be when she grows up?




Why We Love It:

  • Clever concept

  • Clever, inspiring text with several great messages

  • Unique illustrations with neat lettering




First Day Jitters Written By: Julie Danneberg Illustrated By: Judy Love

First Day Jitters

Written By: Julie Danneberg

Illustrated By: Judy Love

Publisher: Charlesbridge (2000)

Recommended Ages: 4+


Book Description: Sarah Jane Hartwell has that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach--she's nervous and doesn't want to start a new school year. She doesn't know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it.


With a little convincing from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly heads to class. Shy at first, she's quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton and reminded that everyone at school gets the jitters sometimes.


A beloved and bestselling back-to-school staple, Sarah Jane's familiar story and its surprise ending will delight seasoned students and new faces alike who are anxious about their first day.


Why We Love It:

  • Classic!

  • Comforts and reassures students who are nervous for their first day of school

  • Great surprise ending!

  • Includes a certificate of courage and first day memories record in the back



 

We sincerely hope that you enjoy these books as much as we have! To receive monthly book recommendations, sign-up for my newsletter at the bottom of this page. Otherwise, if you have any back-to-school picture book recommendations for us, please type them in the comments below. We are ALWAYS looking for fun new books to read! 😊


Happy reading from our family to yours!




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