Looking for back to school picture books for kids?
I’ve got you covered. Have you already started scouting libraries, websites, and bookstores for the perfect “going to school” books? Perhaps you’ve been searching for children’s book recommendations that fit into any of these (or different) categories:
- First day jitters
- Making new friends
- Separation anxiety
- Dealing with new situations, routines, and schedules
- Helping children (and some parents) cope with feelings of anticipation, excitement, and nervousness
- Starting Preschool or Kindergarten
Below you will find a list of “Back to School” books. I hope you’ll find these helpful and possibly a few to read to your little readers as well.
Share this list with educators, parents, and families to help them prepare their students for their first day of school. Happy Reading!
School's First Day of School
It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?
The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he's not the only one going through first-day jitters.
I Got the School Spirit
Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! She hears the school spirit in the bus driving up the street--VROOM, VROOM!--and in the bell sounding in the halls--RING-A-DING! She sings the school spirit in class with her friends--ABC, 123!
Lola Goes to School
A comforting, cheerful read that demystifies the school day for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Lola and her family prepare for the first day of school the night before, then get up early, take pictures, and head to class. Lola puts her things in her cubby, chooses her activities, reads, plays, and has a snack. Before she knows it, it's time to sing the good-bye song and rush into Mommy's arms for a warm reunion.
The Day You Begin
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
I Promise is a lively and inspiring picture book that reminds us that tomorrow’s success starts with the promises we make to ourselves and our community today.
All Are Welcome
Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other's traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.
All Welcome Here
The first day of school and all its excitement, challenges, and yes, anxieties, are celebrated here in connected haiku poems. A diverse cast of characters all start―and finish―their first days of school, and have experiences that all children will relate to.
Ruby Finds a Worry
Meet Ruby -- a happy, curious, imaginative young girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry. It's not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . and a little bigger . . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about. But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries, and not only that, there's a great way to get rid of them too . . . she just has to share her feelings. This perceptive and poignant story is the perfect springboard for talking to children about emotions and anxieties.
Hurry Kate, Or You'll Be Late!
Kate was late for preschool, but not for the reasons you might expect. It wasn't because her daddy brushed her hair into poofs, or because they slowed to say hello to neighbors on the way to the bus stop. It wasn't even because she had to wave to all the trucks, cars, and street cleaners on the road. No, Kate was late because just after they arrived at school, her daddy swooped in to give her a great big goodbye hug that lasted a very long time.
My Name is a Story
First days aren't easy for a girl with a name like Ashanti. It feels like no one can pronounce it correctly! But with some encouragement from her mom, Ashanti spells her name and learns just how special it is.
Lunch From Home
What happens when a child's favorite packed lunch is met with disparaging comments at the school lunch table? In a classroom of sandwiches, four students stand out with their homemade, culturally-specific lunches. But before they can dig in and enjoy their favorite foods, their lunches are spoiled by scrunched noses and disgusted reactions from their sandwich-eating classmates. Follow each of the four students as they learn to cope with their first "lunch box moments" in this picture book that encourages empathy and inspires all readers to stand up for their food!
More Than Peach
When Bellen Woodard’s classmates referred to "the skin-color” crayon, in a school and classroom she had always loved, she knew just how important it was that everyone understood that “skin can be any number of beautiful colors.” This stunning picture book spreads Bellen’s message of inclusivity, empowerment, and the importance of inspiring the next generation of leaders. Bellen created the More Than Peach Project and crayons with every single kid in mind to transform the crayon industry and grow the way we see our world. And Bellen has done just that!
This is a School
A school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions. A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room.
A Friend Like You
There's nothing in the world like a wonderful friend. Friends are there to laugh with you and ready with a hug when you need one. There are forever friends and brand new friends. Friends for adventures and friends for cozy days indoors. Friends who are just like you and friends who are nothing like you at all. In this book, celebrate ALL the marvelous ways to be a friend!
Amira's Picture Day
Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can't wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira's stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it's also school picture day. If she's not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won't her teacher wonder where she is? Though the day's celebrations at the mosque are everything Amira was dreaming of, her absence at picture day weighs on her. A last-minute idea on the car ride home might just provide the solution to everything in this delightful story.
Ming Goes to School
This is a very sweet story with soft, evocative watercolor illustrations that will help kids to grow comfortable with the idea of starting preschool. Ming is curious and playful and ready for adventure, but even she gets scared of new things sometimes. Kids will relate to her desires and fears and will be excited to see Ming at the top of the slide by the story's end.
Rulers of the Playground
One morning, Jonah decided to become ruler of the playground. Everyone agreed to obey his rules to play in King Jonah’s kingdom. Everyone except for Lennox . . . because she wanted to rule the playground, too. This picture book is about sharing, friendship, and kindness in a playground setting
The Buddy Bench
Having seen what being left out is like, children become agents of change, convincing their teacher to let them build a buddy bench. Buddy benches are appearing in schoolyards around the country. Introduced from Germany in 2014, the concept is simple: When a child sits on the bench, it’s a signal to other kids to ask him or her to play.
Butterflies on the First Day of School
Rosie can’t wait to start kindergarten—she’s had her pencils sharpened and her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, on the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly, and she’ll feel better soon. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she says hello to a new friend on the bus, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! As the day goes on, Rosie frees all her butterflies, and even helps another shy student let go of hers, too.
I'm Gonna Push Through
Inspired by a mantra written for her third-grade students, Jasmyn Wright’s uplifting call to “push through” is an invitation to young readers to announce their own power and to recognize and reaffirm that of others, regardless of setbacks. Her empowering words not only lift children up, but show them how to lift themselves up and seize their potential.
A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices
In a unique narrative, readers meet a diverse group of six children ranging in age from Kindergarten through ﬁfth grade. With nerves and excitement each child gears up for a new school year by hustling in the morning, meeting new teachers and new classmates during the day, and heading home with homework and relief by day’s end.
A Friend for Henry
In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry has been on the lookout for a friend. A friend who shares. A friend who listens. Maybe even a friend who likes things to stay the same and all in order, as Henry does. But on a day full of too close and too loud, when nothing seems to go right, will Henry ever find a friend—or will a friend find him? With insight and warmth, this heartfelt story from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum celebrates the everyday magic of friendship.
Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year
Lila Greer is full of worries. Even the smallest things--from cabbages to cardboard--fill her with dread and what-ifs. So when her family makes a big change--moving to a new town--the worry and what-ifs only grow. What if things go wrong? What if no one likes her? At first, Lila feels right to be worried. In her new home, everything is strange. The new kids, the new smells. Lila feels alone and invisible. But there's one person who sees her: Lila's teacher, Ms. Kern.
A Teacher Like You
Teachers have the power to change the life of a child with every new school day. Whether they're discovering math or reading, practicing a new instrument or a new sport, or learning about our wonderful, diverse world, students can count on the kindness, innovation, and patience of a teacher. This is a wonderful celebration of all the ways teachers help their student's bloom.
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a "quilt" (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi's most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.
When an Indian American boy starts school in a new classroom, one child can't pronounce his name properly, which leads to giggles amongst his classmates. Later at home, his parents remind him of how special he is ― and how his unique name reflects that.
Say My Name
Six children connect with the reader and proudly celebrate their names and backgrounds: Hé Xiao-Guang, Ofa Kivaha Tupoumalohi, Bijan Hosseini, Nizhoni Yazzie, Xóchitl Luna, and Akosua Acheampong. These captivating kids of Chinese, Tongan, Persian, Navajo, Mexican, and Ghanaian descent also honor their ancestors and cultural histories.
On Vanessa's first day of school, her parents tell her it will be easy to make friends. Vanessa isn't so sure. She wears her fanciest outfit so her new classmates will notice her right away. They notice, but the attention isn't what she'd hoped for. As the day goes on, she feels more self-conscious. Her clothes are too bright, her feather boa has way too many feathers, and even her name is too hard to write.
In this joyful and impactful picture book, a transgender boy prepares for the first day of school and introduces himself to his family and friends for the first time. Inspired by the authors' own transgender child and accompanied by warm and triumphant illustrations, this authentic and personal text promotes kindness and empathy, offering a poignant and inclusive back-to-school message: all should feel safe, respected, and welcomed.
What Are Your Words: A Book About Pronouns
Follow Ari through their neighborhood as they try to find their words in this sweet, accessible introduction to gender-inclusive pronouns that is perfect for readers of all ages. Filled with bright, graphic illustrations, this simple and poignant story about finding yourself is the perfect introduction to gender-inclusive pronouns for readers of all ages.
The King of Kindergarten
Starting kindergarten is a big milestone--and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He's dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can't wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he's up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can't wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements--and then wake up to start another day.
The Queen of Kindergarten
MJ is more than ready for her first day of kindergarten! With her hair freshly braided and her mom's special tiara on her head, she knows she's going to rock kindergarten. 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, friendliness, and impressive soccer skills, too!
The Teachers I Loved Best
Children will love seeing themselves and their favorite teachers in scenes bursting with positivity, highlighting not just academics but sports, drama, art, music, and community. And teachers will appreciate seeing their honored profession depicted with love and gratitude.
Kindergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day
It's the first day of Kindergarten and Leo isn't at all ready. Leo is a quiet kid and would prefer to stay home. Over the summer, his new teacher, Ms. Perry sent a letter asking her students to think about how to show kindness in school. She explained that they would be making a kindness pledge, and each student should bring one way to show kindness on the first day.
Look How Much I've Grown in Kindergarten
Spring has sprung in KINDergarten! Flowers grow just outside the classroom. The trees are budding, and even baby birds begin to chirp, but Mason isn't feeling very cheerful. Mason sees her friends getting better at everything, but she doesn't think she can do anything right. But Mason's favorite teacher Ms. Perry has an idea... a growth chart!
All Aboard the Schooltrain: A Little Story from the Great Migration
This tender family story, inspired by the author’s own, illuminates a dynamic chapter in American history known as the Great Migration ― and the many trains people rode toward freedom. Thelma loves to watch the Sunset Limited chug through her little town of Vacherie, Louisiana. And she dreams of one day riding a real train! For now, she has her beloved schooltrain. Every morning, she and her friends walk to school, single file, chanting all the way:
“Schooltrain! Schooltrain! Don’t be late! The school bell rings at half past eight!”
Our Favorite Day of the Year
Musa's feeling nervous about his first day of school. He's not used to being away from home and he doesn't know any of the other kids in his class. And when he meets classmates Moisés, Mo, and Kevin, Musa isn't sure they'll have much in common. But over the course of the year, the four boys learn more about each other, the holidays they celebrate, their favorite foods, and what they like about school. The more they share with each other, the closer they become, until Musa can't imagine any better friends.
Abdul loves to tell stories. But writing them down is hard. His letters refuse to stay straight and face the right way. And despite all his attempts, his papers often wind up with more eraser smudges than actual words. Abdul decides his stories just aren’t meant to be written down…until a special visitor comes to class and shows Abdul that even the best writers—and superheroes—make mistakes.
The Proudest Blue
A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad.
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
The Kindest Red
It’s picture day and Faizah can’t wait to wear her special red dress with matching hair ribbons, passed down from her mother and sister. Faizah’s teacher starts the day by asking her students to envision the kind of world they want, inspiring Faizah and her friends to spend the day helping one another in ways large and small, But when it’s time for sibling pictures, Faizah realizes that she and her older sister, Asiya, don’t match like her classmates do with their siblings. With help from her classmates inspired by Asiya’s hijab, Faizah finds that acts of kindness can come back to you in unexpected ways.
The Walking School Bus
Every morning, Shaka and his little sister Nandi walk with their father to school. Though the journey is long and hot, they arrive at school happy to see their friends and ready to learn. Then one day, their father gives them terrible news: he has to go work in a mine far away, and they won’t be able to go to school anymore. The route is too dangerous for them to walk alone, so they'll have to stay home. But when they discover a yellow toy bus in the dirt, Shaka and Nandi let their imaginations run wild. Could they buy their own school bus? Or build one themselves?
The World's Best Class Plant
Room 107 has a cockatiel. Room 108 has a chinchilla. Even the Art Room has a bearded dragon. But in Room 109, Arlo's classroom, there is a plant. A mostly green, hardly growing, never moving plant. Even though it doesn't squeak, whistle, or whimper, Arlo’s teacher says the plant is “more than enough excitement for us.” But what could possibly be exciting about a plant?
The Brilliant Ms. Bangle
It’s a new school year, and something is different. The students’ beloved librarian, Ms. Stack, has retired. The new librarian, Ms. Bangle, is not the same! She has different ways of doing, well, everything! How will the students ever adjust?
Yenebi's Drive to School
In a winning, sunny voice in a bright, friendly palette, debut author-illustrator Sendy Santamaria tells the story of one girl's commute—a commute Sendy herself made growing up as an American citizen living in Mexico. Yenebi's Drive to School takes readers on a trip to school that many will recognize as very similar to their own.