8 Back to School Picture Books for Young Readers

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Every now and then, something will instantly take me back to school: the smell of synthetic detergent in a warm room (no air conditioners for us!), the frost on fresh grass (those early mornings of PE!), or standing at the entrance to a room full of strangers (take back Those lunchtimes!). It feels weird, cute sometimes, sometimes it isn’t, but I’m always grateful to have the skill set of an adult to handle the task ahead of me.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read Little Mall goes to school (Thanks, Beaming Books!), The charming story of a little mole who, well, heads off to his first day at Woodland School. The little mole is worried: his eyesight is not good and sometimes he has difficulty hearing. He does not know his alphabet, and he is sure that everyone will get ahead of him in every subject. Of course, his concerns were wrapped up in the 32-page picture book, and I thought it was a sweet and encouraging read for anyone who might be worried about the new school year. But I wanted to draw attention to the background of this picture book, specifically.

The background material in a picture book is usually a page or two of factual text that helps the child or caregiver understand the topic a little more. A picture book can help age from a 3-year-old to 7-year-old reading level, as it brings up a more complex topic. in Little Mall goes to schoolthere is a fact page about jungle creatures that allows the young reader to understand how important the story beats are based on the actual characteristics depicted by the small animals in the story, as well as a page of advice on caring for a child with school anxiety, written by a licensed family therapist.

Below, I’ve included eight back-to-school picture books about kids heading to school to help your little one cope with back-to-school stress. Some have a background, some don’t, but all of it will help your child make that big, sometimes scary, and often wonderful transition.

Back to school picture books

Little Mole Goes to School by Glenys Nellist, by Sally Garland

Poor little mole, he’s so nervous about his first day of school! His eyesight is not good and sometimes he has difficulty hearing, and what if everyone knows the alphabet better than him? But he’ll soon learn that it’s his differences that make him special, just like the other creatures in his class.

The cover of the first day of school

First day of school written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Everyone always talks about kids and teachers with first-day anxiety, but what about the building itself? This charming picture book tells from the school’s point of view: Will the kids love it? Will they be nice? It’s a sweet story with a silly twist that will appeal to anyone worried about that first day.

I Got the School Spirit cover

I Got School Spirit by Connie Schofield Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Sometimes, after you deal with fears, the best thing to do is to deal with the feared thing on your own. I got school spirit It is the perfect book for that. The main character, a young girl, is very excited about starting school: she has a school spirit, which she is ready to share with her classmates. It’s a rhythmic, dance-along picture book perfect for letting go of those tensions.

Danbi cover leads the school parade for Anna Kim

Danby leads the school parade written and illustrated by Anna Kim

The first day at school can be difficult for anyone, but it gets even worse when it’s your first day of school in a new country! Danby is excited about starting her new school, but she doesn’t understand any of the rules of the games other kids play. But then, with a little imagination, Danbi created a new game that everyone can play together.

Cover of Daisies by Kevin Hincks

Chrysanthemum written and illustrated by Kevin Hincks

This is the classic back to school book, and I had to include it. Daisies love their name, and she is excited to go to school and learn the names of all her new classmates! But as she introduces herself, the other children start laughing because she is named after a flower. It is a beautiful book that teaches children to be kind and tolerant of differences.

Photo book cover of The Day I Started

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, drawn by Rafael Lopez

Award-winning poet and author Jacqueline Woodson addresses the many ways a child might feel different entering the classroom, but she encourages kids to get started anyway. It’s a beautiful lyric about the first day of school.

Going to School written and illustrated by Rose Blake

For some children, the unknown on the first day can be very worrying. That’s why I included going to schoolA simple story in which you walk a child during a typical day at school. Blake’s illustrations are bright, cheerful, and welcoming, just like your child’s new classroom.

book cover of The King of Kindergarten by Barnes

The King of Kindergarten by Derek Barnes, and drawn by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

And finally, one last boost of confidence before we’re done. The King of Kindergarten is ready for his best day ever: first day at school. And like the best of kings, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to be kind to fellow students, correct mistakes, and spread the sun with a cheerful smile. It’s a sweet and poetic little story, and makes for perfect read aloud.

I hope you’ve found a book on your back to school comic book list that can help your little one, or just help build some excitement for the big day. Want some STEM picture books to prepare your child for science class? Check out these books about creepy crawlies. Want an overview of this year’s best picture books? Here’s a list of the best comic books 2022 has to offer. If you’re not sure why adults benefit from comic books, here’s a big argument that adults should read comic books.

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