Oh summer, why must you leave us so soon? A new school year is about to commence, and while parents are looking at lengthy school supply lists and (for some of us) lamenting the return to daily lunch packing, for kids this can be a time of both excitement and anxiety. That’s where the list of books below comes in.
These ten new titles cover everything from the thrill of a new classroom to first day fears about making friends or fitting in. Reading at home has become part of most kids’ school curriculum, so why not get started now with fun and reassuring stories about their new school year adventure? I’m just hoping this will be the year my daughter actually eats all of that lunch I packed with one eye open…
1). Ready or Not, Woolbur Goes to School! By Leslie Helakoski
Woolbur is off to school for the first time, and he’s very enthusiastic about it. This little sheep doesn’t fret about being different or not doing things perfectly—his standard response, whether it’s about having to share or coloring outside the lines is, “isn’t it great?” Yes, Woolbur, it is. A positive message for first time or returning students about being themselves and having a good attitude.
2). The Day You begin
Beautiful illustrations by Rafael López are the perfect match for Jacqueline Woodson’s encouraging story about entering a classroom and feeling different. The children in The Day You Begin may speak different languages, have had different summer experiences; they feel like they somehow don’t measure up to the others. But when they find the courage to share from their lives, friendships blossom and they discover the joy of connection. An inspiring and heart-warming picture book for all.
3). Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School: Book 1
A boy named Stewart is going to be saved from the strange place called “school” by his pet dogs who see him returning from this school place anxious and unhappy. The pair disguise themselves as a boy named Salty and hit the hallways, but it turns out these pets LOVE school! An excellent chapter book to kick-start reading again in the last days of summer.
4). It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!
A school bus is about to set off for his first day on the job. First, the bus’ driver goes through all the safety checks and workings of a school bus, from the fire extinguisher to the red stop sign signal. Once everything is safe, Busy Bus sets out, hoping the kids will like him, and of course they do. A wonderful introduction for new school bus riders.
5). All Are Welcome
Rhyming text with a recurring refrain imparts a valuable message: school is a safe haven for everyone. In this picture book, stories are shared, art is created, and many different foods are unpacked for lunch, because all are welcome. Kid-friendly illustrations depict a wide range of diversity in this very special school story.
6). Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma
It’s the first day of kindergarten and Lena isn’t nervous, but her shoes sure are! Lena enlists the help of her green headband and together they talk Lena’s shoes through all their concerns, reminding them of other times they’ve been brave. Then, it’s off to school! A warm and understanding story that captures first day fears and reminds kids they’ve been brave before and they can do this, too.
7). The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
Seventh grade can be tough for anyone, but for Lucy it seems especially daunting. A lightning strike left her with genius math skills and homeschooling. Lucy is ready for college, despite being only twelve, but first she has to do one year of middle school, make a friend, and read a book for fun. A charming novel about friendship and the reward of having new experiences—even when they’re uncomfortable at first.
8). We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
The author of Mother Bruce has penned a hilarious new picture book about a dinosaur who goes to human school and has a few things to learn… Number one: don’t eat your classmates. Penelope Rex has trouble making friends, but when someone takes a bite of her, she finally understands. Fun for all and ideal for preschoolers or kindergarteners who may be acting out towards other children.
9). Adventures to School: Real-Life Journeys of Students from Around the World
A fascinating picture book view of how thirteen different students from around the world get to school each day. From Panama and China to Cameroon and Ukraine, each child has their own journey but all are on the same path toward education.
10). Totally Middle School: Tales of Friends, Family, and Fitting In Edited
An inspiring anthology collection from eleven bestselling authors including Lois Lowry, Gary Schmidt, and Margarita Engle. The stories are told in formats that range from text messages to verse, and all highlight different aspects of the unique experience of entering middle school.