10 of the best picture books to read on the first day of school

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The first day of school is my favorite day of the year. However, I understand that beginnings are uncomfortable for many others, and few beginnings are as nerve-wracking as the first day at school. Whether you are a caregiver preparing the child or a teacher setting up a learning environment, there are many different considerations. Academic pressures aside, classrooms are places where names can be slaughtered, feelings can be damaged, fit can seem challenging, and differences may be seen as issues rather than reasons to celebrate. A good teacher will spend the first weeks building community and helping students share their true selves with their classmates. Caregivers can also prepare their children for success.

I have kids who feel great and struggle with anxiety, and in our house, the first day of school prep includes an early return to the school night routine. This is something less difficult when we go back to getting up early and adjusting to new teachers and classes. In the lead up to school and in the first few weeks, we also focus extra on asking each other about the ups and downs of our day. It can sound corny, but it keeps the conversation flowing, and it’s harder to dismiss than “How was your day?” These simple steps help to contact us and quickly alert me when problems arise. Problems will worsen in any school year, but a strong transition from summer to school strengthens us all.

As you may have guessed, one of my other strategies is to seriously conserve our reading time together. If you or someone you love is nervous about any aspect of the school year, there is probably a picture book for that. Books about the school experience have flourished over the past few years, from a general overview of a school day to a variety of titles focusing on specific experiences and situations.

Derek Barnes Kindergarten Queen, Vanessa Brantley-Newton

I am thrilled with this very popular companion of The King of Kindergarten. MJ is overflowing with confidence and excitement on her first day of school, and she knows how great she brings to her class and her new friends. A perfect read to remind new students that they are royally ready to shine in Kindergarten!

KINDergarten Cover Where Kindness Matters Every Day

KINDergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day by Vera Ahiya and Joy Cho

Ahia, known for her love of children’s books and her experience as a kindergarten teacher, blended these talents to give us a title to help deliver social expectations on the first day of school or anytime throughout the year. Leo gets worried when his teacher asks them to think of something to add to their kind pledge, but after a day out with his classmates, he learns he really knows about kindness, after all.

Our class cover is family

We Describe a Family by Shannon Olsen, Sandy Sonke

While I hesitate to compare my colleagues and my administrator to family (teaching is my profession and not something I have at all out of the heart of a mother or a fraternal commitment), it is true that students and their teachers spend more hours spending together than people who spend their time together. live with. Knowing this makes the family mindset in the classroom important. In some cases, school is the only place where students feel safe. In other cases, school is where they face their biggest struggles. In any case, having a reliable support system and unconditional love is superfluous. This book reminds students that family is more than just who you relate to, and that they are loved at school.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael Lopez

Students feel in many different ways on the first day of school, and this beautiful book is a reminder to teachers that their new drawing deals with so much more than books and classes when they return from summer vacation. On the first day, the differences may seem stark, but when students are given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the community, common ground can be found and celebrated, even if you feel lonely the day you start.

The cover of the illustrated book The Blur

The Blur by Minh Lee, Dan Santat

Keep napkins close by, adults. This will make you feel. Our main character is great in many ways, but the most exciting thing is the way she speeds through the years, and her parents can barely keep up with her from the first day of school until her high school graduation. The embodiment of the book “Days are long but years are short”, blur She celebrates the sensory explosion of childhood while being sweetly sad as it goes by so fast.

Our favorite day cover of the year

Our Favorite Day of the Year Written by AE Ali, Rachel Gambor Bell

I adore this book for many reasons. It’s perfect for the first day of school, community building, and highlighting celebrations of all kinds. Moses and his friends can’t believe it when their new teacher says that the first day of school is her favorite day of the year. It’s nerve-wracking to meet new people! Over the months, different students share their favorite special days with the class, teach and unite students into best friends.

Your Name is a song written by Jamila Tompkins Bigelow, Luisa Uribe

The importance of correctly pronouncing a child’s name cannot be overstated. This book celebrating non-Anglo nouns is not only great, but a perfect opening for educators to ask for feedback on correct pronunciation. The illustrations are stunning, and the message is equally profound. Don’t leave it to the kids to correct you, and don’t be complacent about learning these musical names.

I Promise picture book cover

I Promise By LeBron James, Ninja Mata

This is the book I always use when dealing with the “grammar” discussion. The classroom community is built together, and so we discuss what can help us succeed and build our classroom promise which includes safety and respect for each other. James’ book is a beautifully illustrated list of the promises people can make to their community and themselves to look their best. The fact that it was coined by a famous NBA star is another way to engage kids and build excitement as we build our family in the classroom.

All Are Welcome . picture book cover

All Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Susan Kaufman

This book does what it says. Bright illustrations and simple rhyming text present a thriving community where students from different backgrounds and family structures live and learn together. I love using this book as an open-ended I Spy activity – there is a lot to explore in the illustrations. Ask the students what they notice and take it from there!

The Boy with Big Big Feelings picture book cover

The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Wayne Lee, Jacob Sova

Big, big feelings are where I spend most of my time as a teacher. In a post-school closure world, it is more important than ever that teachers openly recognize and channel overwhelming emotions without shame or frustration. In this book, feelings are related to the way you feel in the body, strategies for regulating feelings are shared, and in general, emotion recognition is celebrated.

We hope you’ve found a book or two that will help calm and celebrate any day of school. If you’re looking for more, check out our list of back to school comic books. We wish you a happy reading, and a wonderful school year!

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