This will be Clara’s first time in a formal school program, and what can I say…the girl is really, really into her mama. She’s excited to make new friends and learn new things, but she’s not so thrilled about leaving me for hours every day…not to mention all the other insecurities that go along with being in a new place, surrounded by new people, following new routines you don’t understand.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about helping kids adjust to scary situations, it’s that talking about what to expect really helps. And one of the best ways to do that is by reading to her.
Hearing about a book character’s worries and fears – and then ultimately seeing that everything turns out OK in the end – not only helps the child know what to expect but reassures her that she’ll do just fine, too.
Even if your child has already begun the school year, it’s a good idea to keep reading about school experiences. You never know what situations might come up a few weeks into the school year – friend issues, substitute teachers, a hard time mastering the alphabet – and the more you talk about it, the more it can help your child deal with whatever’s on his mind.
Here are a list of 11 children’s books that deal with starting – or returning to – school. Because I love classic children’s books, a fair number of these come from my own childhood memories! But there are some great new ones in there, too, ready to be made classic by a new generation of kids. Enjoy the list – and be sure to suggest your own favorites in the comments!
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On My Way To School by Sarah Maizes.
This new title features the irrepressible Livi using the same creative stalling techniques that slowed her down On My Way To Bed and On My Way To The Bath. This time she dawdles and dreams her way to school, but at the end of the day, finds she’s not quite ready to leave. Clara loves this fun, imaginative read, and any parent will recognize a bit of their child in Livi!
Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary.
Ahhh, Ramona! One of my favorite childhood book characters! This spunky girl starts Kindergarten in the second girl in the series, and for the first time puts the spotlight on Ramona rather than big sister Beezus. Remember Davy?
Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis
Dexter’s not afraid to start Kindergarten – not at all. But his stuffed dog Rufus might be, just a little. A clever and reassuring book that helps kids move past the back-to-school jitters.
David Goes To School by David Shannon
Oh, David! No, David! This series has been a bookshelf staple since my oldest son was a little guy. We love watching David get himself into trouble, with whimsical illustrations and just enough text to keep the story moving along quickly. This book in the series deals with David getting in trouble for his schoolroom antics…but like always, there’s a sweet ending in store.
The Berenstain Bears Go To School, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
I’ll admit that I started losing my affection for the Berenstain Bears when my kids began watching the cartoon about ten years ago. I mean, were Mama and Papa always so preachy? But this classic Bears book was a go-to for me when I began reading, so it’s on my must-read list this time of year.
Little Critter’s First Day of School, by Mercer Mayer
Ohh, how I love the Little Critter books. I love the simple language, the illustrations, and I have to admit, I really dig Mom Critter’s wardrobe. This is a newer book in the series and while I don’t love it quite as much as “Just Me And My Mom” and other classic Little Critter titles, it has a nice positive tone that can help young kids get excited about school.
Amelia Bedelia Goes Back To School by Herman Parish
I can still remember my third-grade classroom laughing uproariously at Amelia Bedelia’s straightforward interpretation of sports terms in the classic “Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia.” This story in the series, focusing on Amelia bringing her very literal mind to the classroom, is equally silly. For kids who are old enough to understand figures of speech, it’s a fun read that can get them in the back-t0-school spirit.
How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? By Jane Yolen
The silly “How Do Dinosaurs…?” series has been one of our family’s favorites for years. Kids love the hilarity of dinosaurs in human situations, sometimes with disastrous results. As the parent, I appreciate that the rollicking rhymes skip off the tongue easily and keep the story moving – and there’s always just enough of a moral in these books (the dinos share, listen, keep their desks clean, etc) without preachiness.
On The Banks Of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This isn’t a “back to school” story per se, but this book is the first in the Little House series to feature Laura and Mary going off to school. Growing up, the parts about Nellie Oleson and the girls’ school friends and experiences were some of my favorites. This is a great read-aloud book for younger kids, too.
Kindergarten, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg
This light-hearted book uses cute illustrations and charming verse to detail all the fun experiences a child can look forward to when starting Kindergarten.
Curious George’s First Day Of School, by Margret & H.A. Rey
As you can probably imagine, the first day of school is full of hijinks for this curious monkey. I didn’t love it as much as the classic Curious George tales (this one is a newer book written “in the style of” the ones we grew up with) but it’s still a fun read for a young child who loves the Curious George storyline and features just enough nostalgia for we adults.