The first day of school can be scary and overwhelming for young children. Help ease their fears by reading some of these wonderful books together over the summer.
THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!
Words and Pictures by Mo Willems
“What if there is math? Why does the alphabet have so many LETTERS?! What will the other birds THINK of me?”
As with all the “Pigeon” books, this one is very funny while also addressing thoughts and fears that children may have about the first day of school.
Though the Pigeon puts on a show of bravery and bluster, inside he is wrestling with fears about what will happen at school, how it all works, and, perhaps most scary… what will the other “birds” think of him?
When he learns how he will be getting school, however, he is VERY anxious to go!
MAE’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Words and pictures by Kate Berube
Today is Mae’s first day of school. But Mae says, “I’M. NOT. GOING.”
With the help of a new friend, a shared cookie, and her tree-climbing teacher, Mae learns that she’s not the only one feeling nervous about the first day of school.
THE KISSING HAND
by Audrey Penn, illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
“The Kissing Hand is a story for any child who confronts a difficult situation, and for the child within each of us who sometimes needs reassurance.”
Sweet and gentle as all get out, this lovely story gives children and their caregivers a way to stay connected even when they are apart.
By sharing a kiss on her child’s hand, Mrs. Raccoon assures him that all he needs to do to know she loves him is press his hand against his cheek, and “…that kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts.”
Read this story with your children and provide them with their own “kissing hand” when they head off to the first day of school.
FIRST DAY JITTERS
by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love
“Excitement – anticipation – butterflies – JITTERS!
Everyone knows the jumble of feelings that go through a child’s head as the first day of school approaches – especially if it’s the first day at a new school.”
In this story, Sarah Jane Hartwell has “first day jitters” as she prepares for her first day at a new school. Like all children, she is hesitant to go, fearful she may not be accepted, and doing everything she can to avoid going.
But there is a surprise twist at the end of this story that teaches children they’re not the only ones who might be feeling butterflies as they start school!
I don’t remember my first day of grade school, but I clearly remember my first day of junior high school! The school seemed huge and overwhelmingly crowded. So many students, and I barely knew any of them.
I was SO nervous, and accidentally wandered into the wrong home room. When I announced my name and was told, “Nope, you’re not in this class” I remember being horrified, my face glowing red.
Of course, it only took moments to figure out where I was supposed to be, but that terrifying moment has stuck with me. I definitely understand “first day jitters”!
THE DAY YOU BEGIN
By Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
I’ve read a lot of “first day of school” books, and this one stands out for me because it speaks directly to the fear of being rejected or laughed at because of the way you speak, the color of your skin, the curl of your hair, the clothes you wear, or what’s in your lunchbox.
Children want to fit in, they want to be part of the group, and this book reassures readers that you can be yourself and fit in.
“Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art celebrate the bravery it takes to go forth even when you feel like an outsider. And they remind us that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our story, others will be happy to meet us halfway.”
SCHOOL’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Story by Adam Rex, pictures by Christian Robinson
It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially… the school.
I really got a kick out of this unique approach to the “first day of school”. I admit I had never considered the school day from the perspective of THE SCHOOL!
In this story, a brand new school is being readied for the children to arrive. So far, the only person the school has known is the janitor, who has worked very hard to prepare the classrooms.
But soon, the school will be bustling with activity and he is just as nervous about it as the children arriving for their first day of school.
PRESCHOOL, HERE I COME!
by D.J. Steinberg, illustrated by John Joven
Preschool, here I come!
It’s my first ever day.
Mommy give me two hugs and a kiss
and promises to stay.
With an energy and brightness that matches the excitement of a preschool room, this book lyrically describes the routines and activities that will take place in a typical preschool classroom.
From learning the rules, to washing hands, playing with toys, making art, creating music, learning to write, and more, this story will give incoming students a good idea of what goes on at preschool and how much fun it will be!
HOW TO GET YOUR TEACHER READY
by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish
My favorite thing about this book is that it speaks to the children as experts – they are the ones who understand how the classroom works, all the ins and outs, the activities and events that will be experienced during the year.
It’s a unique shift from the tone of most “First Day of School” books in that the children are not scared and overwhelmed, they are the teachers themselves. They have power and confidence and express kindness and patience with their teacher, just as the reader would hope they will be treated at school.
If you enjoyed this article, click here to enjoy my videos of children’s books read aloud.