Your students are headed back to school, and chances are they are a little nervous! For some of them, it may be the first time they are in a traditional school setting for a full day. One of my favorite ways to calm those first day fears is with the help of back to school books. Through text-to-self connections, students will feel empowered and confident to take on the school year just like many of the beloved characters in these highly engaging read alouds. Pick from this list of 40 back to school books to help calm your students’ first day jitters!
Back to School Books
The first day of school usually brings a mixture of emotions. On one hand, it is exciting… but on the other, it’s a little scary too. Rosie can’t wait to start kindergarten. In fact, she has her backpack and school supplies all ready for the first day. But, on the night before kindergarten, Rosie’s tummy begins to hurt. Of course, her mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly. This charming story takes a common figure of speech and transforms it into an easily understood concept.
The kids in “The Day You Begin” feel a little different and scared when they start a new school or meet new friends. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet. This book shows that even though we may be different, we all have stories to share and things that make us special. By being brave and sharing our experiences, we can make new friends and learn to celebrate our differences.
No matter your race, religion, ability, family makeup and more, all are welcome. The story follows a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. Readers discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.
This book follows an impatient bunny who hates to wait. At first he’s ecstatic that you, the reader, have arrived. But then he lets you know that waiting for you took too long and was way too boring. The bunny is ready to forgive everything if you’ll promise to stay. He teaches us that sometimes waiting can be tough, but when we’re patient, good things can happen and we can have lots of fun… perfect for welcoming a new group of students!
Faizah and her sister Asiya are excited for the first day of school. Asiya wears a bright blue hijab, a symbol of her faith and identity, and Faizah admires her sister’s strength and confidence despite the curious glances and unkind words. Faizah and Asiya remain resilient and proud of their heritage no matter what.
After being uprooted from their home in Vietnam, young Hà is happy with her new life at the refugee camp. But, today she is moving to her forever home in America. Leaving means saying goodbye to everyone and everything that she knows. “Where Wildflowers Grow” explores the emotional struggle of moving away from the comfort of familiarity and the joy in discovering there’s always hope in new beginnings.
When the school year begins, the students in “Our Class is a Family” realize they are more than just classmates. With the help of their caring teacher, they learn to support and uplift each other. Through everyday challenges and celebrations, they build strong bonds and create a safe and inclusive environment, teaching valuable life lessons along the way.
What better way to feel welcome on the first day of school than with a letter from your teacher? Students get excited about the school year ahead, as they discover what they will learn and accomplish. This book is wonderful for building positive relationships in the classroom from day one.
Chester Raccoon is apprehensive on his first night at school. His mom shares with him an old family secret that he can take with him. It can help him feel a sense of comfort whenever things might seem a little scary. Delighting young audiences for more than 25 years, it is one of the best back to school books that will give your nervous students a chance to relax and remind themselves that their family (and their teacher) is looking out for them! Plus, it pairs nicely with this “First Day Feelings” raccoon craft and graph!
Although Danbi will be the new girl at school, she is thrilled to start her new school in America. She’s a bit nervous too, especially when everything goes quiet when she walks into the classroom. Danbi wants to join in the activities with her classmates, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t seem to get anything right. With perseverance and a little imagination, Danbi invents her own game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember!
This is one of my favorite back to school books. No one notices Brian or thinks to include him. It’s like he is invisible, until there is a new kid in the school. When the new boy arrives, Brian is the first person to make him feel welcome. Share this special book about character and kindness with your students to show them how everyone, big or small, shy or confident, can make someone feel welcome.
A confident young boy navigates his first day of kindergarten in a regal and imaginative way. He is eager to learn and experience all that kindergarten has to offer and can’t wait to tell his parents about his day. This back to school book is the perfect read aloud to encourage and prepare young learners for the school year ahead.
MJ can’t wait for her first day of kindergarten. She enters the classroom with her tiara, confident and ready to take on the school year. But the tiara isn’t just for show. It also reminds her of all the good things she brings to the classroom, stuff like her kindness and friendliness… perfect for empowering students and fostering a positive classroom environment.
It’s the first day of school, and everyone is a little nervous… even the school itself is filled with first day worries. What will the first day bring? Will the students be nice? Will they like school? It’s a bit of a rough start, but School soon realizes he’s not the only one with first day jitters.
It’s just a typical school morning, until all the big people beg the kids to let them go to school too. The fun and repetitive refrain, “Sorry, grown-ups! You can’t go to school! Only kids and teachers! Only kids and teachers!” makes school seem exclusive and desirable… something only kids and teachers get to do!
Musa’s feeling nervous about his first day of school. He’s not sure he’ll have much in common with his classmates Moisés, Mo and Kevin. But, over the course of the school year, the four boys become the best of friends. In this charming story of friendship and celebrating differences, young readers can discover how entering a new friendship with an open mind and sharing parts of yourself bring people together.
From making new friends to discovering the wonders of the classroom, each part of the first day of kindergarten is filled with joy and adventure. With engaging illustrations and relatable characters, this book serves as a perfect tool to ease kindergarten jitters and introduce children to the magic of learning.
From the excitement of reuniting with friends to the challenges of new subjects and routines, the children navigate the ups and downs of the first days of first grade. With vivid illustrations and relatable experiences, the book captures the essence of the first grade journey, emphasizing the value of perseverance and the joy of learning.
Magnolia’s teacher just announced a special show-and-tell day at school, and Magnolia is determined to have the best show-and-tell of all. Instead of bringing something ordinary, Magnolia decides to bring an alligator. As expected, chaos ensues as the alligator wreaks havoc in the classroom. Through entertaining illustrations and witty storytelling, the book highlights the importance of making wise choices and the consequences of impulsive actions.
Chrysanthemum loves her unique name until she starts school and faces teasing from her classmates. With the help of a compassionate teacher, Chrysanthemum learns to embrace her individuality and celebrates the beauty of her name. Pair this beloved book with my favorite name activities during the first few weeks of school.
Wemberly worried about everything! School was her number one worry until she found someone just like her, a fellow worrier. As with many of these back to school books, your students with anxiety, or those simply nervous about their first day, will find comfort in Wemberly’s story.
Miss Bindergarten is always one of my students’ favorite back to school books. Throughout the story, she is busy getting her classroom ready for her 26 students, who, of course, will be starting school soon. The finishing touches come together just before her students arrive on the first day!
Of course, your little learners already know and love Pete the Cat! This time, he is getting to know his new school in his back to school shoes. This sing-songy rhyming favorite will have your kids rockin’ in their school shoes!
Dexter and his stuffed dog Rufus are nervous for the the first day of kindergarten. The two of them can’t stop asking Jessie, Dexter’s third grade sister, questions. After getting settled, Dexter realizes school is awesome. That is until he loses Rufus. Like many of these back to school books, this one is great for teaching students about overcoming fears and challenges.
David, a mischievous boy, sure likes to test his limits. This story follows David as he navigates the rules and routines of school. The book humorously depicts David’s various antics and rule-breaking behavior, showcasing the challenges faced by both David and his exasperated teacher. Use this story to turn those “No, David!” choices into “Yes, David!” choices with this adorable “Yes, David!” craft and activities!
Pout-Pout Fish is apprehensive about his first day of school. He is nervous about knowing what to do and making mistakes, but he quickly realizes all that school has to offer. This book encourages children to approach new situations with an open mind and a positive attitude.
Lola is so excited for her first day of school. Her family helps her prepare for the big day by picking out her outfit and getting her supplies ready. She has a wonderful first day, but she is also happy when she is reunited with her mom at the end of the day.
Little Blue Truck sees a yellow bus carrying his animal friends on the way to school. He wishes he could be big like the yellow bus so he could take his friends to school. Little Blue Trucks’ wish comes true when he is tasked with taking a friend to school who accidentally missed the bus.
Pigeon is apprehensive about going to school. He tries to avoid school by coming up with various excuses and expressing his worries about what awaits him. With humor and relatable emotions, the book explores common fears children may have about starting school. Ultimately, the Pigeon discovers that school can be exciting and enjoyable, making it a reassuring and entertaining read for young readers.
Teachers need help transitioning back to school too! Help your kids ease into school by sharing a silly story that shows them you also have to dive back into fall.
As Mae’s first day of school approaches, she decides she simply is not going to school. School is scary. There are too many unknowns. What if nobody likes her, or she doesn’t know how to write, or she misses her mom? Once at school, she meets Rosie and Ms. Pearl, who work together to conquer their fears.
It’s the first day of school, and little Bunny feels like something is flopping in his belly. He’s worried. He doesn’t know anyone, or how to tie his shoes, or how to read. Lucky for him, his big sister hops right in to help him tackle his first-day jitters and convinces him that the first day won’t be a horrible disaster.
Georgie Dupree loves learning, but on her first day at her new school, she worries if she’ll get lost or if she’ll make friends. With her teacher’s daily classroom affirmations, Georgie learns to use positive thinking and to believe in herself.
It’s the critters very first day of school, and they are all feeling a bit nervous, especially when it’s time to say goodbye to their loved ones. “What will it be like? How to begin? It’s your big day! Will you fit in?” With it’s rhyming text and exuberant characters, young students will be reminded that school is cool.
Ivy Green is excited for her first day of school. She prepares by choosing her outfit and packing her backpack. As the big day gets closer, she starts to get nervous. But, Ivy isn’t the only one who prepares and worries. The book also follows the bus driver, janitor, teacher and principal as they prepare for the big day. This is a great read aloud to help students realize that both children and adults face challenges as they take on a new school year.
Sarah tries to come up with creative ways to avoid the first day of school. She is scared and knows it will be absolutely awful. With an unexpected twist, it is revealed that Sarah is actually the new teacher, not a student. The book emphasizes the idea that everyone, even teachers, can feel apprehensive about new experiences.
Penelope, a T-Rex, is excited for the first day of school and to finally meet all of her classmates. But, Penelope struggles to resist the urge to eat her classmates. The book humorously addresses the challenges of fitting in and making friends. Through Penelope’s journey, the book emphasizes the message that everyone deserves respect and friendship, regardless of their differences.
It’s the first day of school and Busy Bus is experiencing some mixed emotions. He is excited, but also nervous, as he worries if the new kids will like him and whether or not he will get lost. Luckily, Busy Bus has bus driver Ben to help him navigate his feelings on the first day. After reading this engaging and lively book, have your students complete this sweet school bus craft.
The Little Yellow Bus is so excited to pick up children and bring them to school all by himself! He has been preparing for this day for a long time. But, on the night before the first day, the Little Yellow Bus is filled with worries. With a little encouragement from his mother and father, he starts his engine and decides to face the day with bravery and confidence.
It’s the first day of school, and the students are excited to share what they would like to have happen. They share all sorts of ideas, including silly things, realistic things and a few far-fetched ideas on what they would like to experience throughout the school year. As the first day draws to a close, there can be no doubt that this school year will definitely be the best!
Activities for Back to School Books
Pair any of these back to school books with your favorite back to school crafts and activities! Here’s a quick peek at a few of my favorites…
Integrate math with this raccoon craft, as you create a “First Day Feelings” graph… the perfect craft to go along with one of our favorite back to school books for the first week of school!
Celebrate the first day of school with this easy-to-assemble back to school pencil craft and self-portrait drawing activities!
Get to know your students with this adorable backpack craft! Each of the 28 pages has just the right amount of writing for your little learners!
Turn those “No, David!” choices into “Yes, David!” choices, as you establish your classroom rules, with these David Goes to School craft and activities!
Honor your students and their names with these interactive name crafts!
More Back to School Activities
Establish classroom rules, routines and procedures with this list of 45 back to school books to teach rules!
Celebrate your students’ individuality with one of the name books on this list!
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