When the time comes to shop for back-to-school supplies, your child may experience a range of emotions, from excitement, disappointment, and even anxiety. School readiness encompasses more than just new notebooks and pencil cases. It also means helping your child to prepare to return to routine, starting with a new teacher or even starting in a brand new school! There are so many first-day-of-school activities you can do with your little one to help them get ready. And using your reading time together is a great opportunity to do so seamlessly. Whether you’re preparing for preschool, preparing for kindergarten, or even wondering how to help to prepare for middle school and beyond, check out these back-to-school books that explore themes of friendship, anxiety, learning, and even bullying to help set them up for success this coming school year.
12 Books to Prepare for The First Day of School for All Ages
Back to School Books for Preschool
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney (ages 2-4)
This option is great if you anticipate that your child will have some separation anxiety during those first few days of school. Little Llama is excited to start preschool, but when it’s time for his mama to leave, he isn’t excited anymore. Learn how Llama Llama’s friends and teachers help him realize he can have fun at school, even though he misses his mama.
In My Heart by Jo Witek (ages 2-5)
In My Heart explores a full range of emotions that your child can (and likely will!) experience not only in school but in life! This book helps your child understand what these emotions may feel like and how to name them. Between making new friends and learning about classroom communities and dynamics, this book can be a great tool to help your little one be prepared to not only experience these emotions but talk about them too.
Corduroy Goes to School by B. G. Hennessy (ages 2-4)
The beloved bear Corduroy is starting school! This book is great for your little one starting preschool for the first time. You and your child can interact by lifting the flaps and exploring Corduroy’s classroom and routines.
Back to School Books for Starting Kindergarten
Wherever You’ll Be by Ariella Prince Guttman (ages 3-5)
This book explores the day of a working mother and her child while they’re apart. Wherever You’ll Be is a great reminder that even when you’re apart, you can pause and think of each other throughout the day to remind you that you’re still connected even apart. This book can be a great way to even reconnect with each other after those first few days of school.
Breathe Like a Bear by Kira Willey (ages 2-6)
This book is a great way to practice mindfulness techniques together! It’s a collection of 30 easy and short breathing techniques that your little one can easily do anywhere when they’re feeling nervous, frustrated, extra silly, etc. The techniques help them to learn to manage their breath, bodies, and emotions. Which can be really helpful when starting school.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (ages 3-7)
Starting kindergarten might be the first time your little one is away from home for a full day! The Invisible String is the perfect book to remind them that we are all connected through an invisible string that can reach anywhere. It reminds them that even though you may not be physically together, you’re never alone.
Back to School Books for Elementary School
The Crayons Go Back to School by Drew Daywalt (ages 4-8)
The Crayons Go Back to School is another installment in the beloved series! Each crayon is excited to go back to school and learn new things about their favorite subjects. But they’re most looking forward to their favorite time of day, art class! This book is great for the night before the first day of school when your kiddo is feeling those first-day jitters and excitement to see their friends, make some new friends, and start the year!
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (ages 5-8)
If your kiddo is nervous about fitting in when heading back to school, The Day You Begin is an inspiring story about being brave anyway. This book shows us that there are many ways that we are all different from one another. But when we share our stories and show who we are, we can all connect even though we are not the same.
What Should Danny Do? School Day by Adir and Ganit Levy (ages 4-7)
This super fun interactive book has you choose your own ending! With 8 different endings, your child can explore the power of making choices and seeing the consequences of each choice in an exciting and unique way! How will Danny’s day at school end? It’s up to you!
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (ages 8-11)
Save Me a Seat follows the story of two fifth graders who don’t believe that they have much in common. Watch as they become friends and work together to fight a common enemy: bullying. This book covers the sometimes difficult social dynamics that come with school and friendships. This book can be relevant to any upper-elementary kiddo. But especially for one who may be nervous about making new friends.
Back to School Books for Middle School and Beyond
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (ages 12+)
This story is about navigating the journey of discovering your self-identity through the story of a teenage boy who is the only Chinese-American student at his school. While not every reader can relate to the specific story of the main character discovering himself through his Chinese cultural background, most of us can relate to feeling different and struggling to meet the expectations of our peers. This book also reminds us that people come from varying backgrounds and contexts. And everyone’s story is unique and special, even if we can’t relate to it.
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick (ages 10-12)
This story follows two unlikely friends who could not be more different from each other in many ways, but both feel like outsiders. Freak the Mighty explores themes of bullying, isolation, and friendship. And reminds us that people are not usually as they seem to others. It reminds us that it’s important to get to know a person, and from that, a beautiful connection can form.
Prepare your child for the first day of school with these engaging reads that explore the challenges and triumphs of this exciting journey.
From preschool to middle school and beyond, the first day always comes with many feelings. Here’s wishing you a smooth start and a wonderful school year!
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