My last article included books to help your grandchildren get ready for school socially and emotionally. The books I am recommending in this article are more traditional, dealing with the uncertainties and anxieties that come every year with the beginning of school.
I chose a variety of books. Some were published in years past but are still noteworthy, such as School’s First Day of School and All Are Welcome. I have also included some picks that are new this year. A few add a twist to the typical back-to-school narrative, such as Ruby’s School Walk and Mae’s First Day of School.
Many feature diverse characters. This allows children from many cultures to see themselves in the story and also offers an authentic portrayal of many classrooms.
Check out the books below and find the perfect books to help your grandchildren get over the back-to-school jitters!
Pete The Kitty’s First Day of Preschool is a board book featuring the very popular Pete the Cat character when he was a young kitty. Pete packs up his backpack with school supplies and a healthy snack, then rides the school bus with his older brother.
At school, he enjoys storytime, painting, and singing. The text is simple and sometimes rhymes. Young children will enjoy the playful and colorful illustrations.
Vanessa is not excited about the first day of school because she worried the kids would not like her. Her parents assure her that her classmates will like her because she is special. She wonders, “But how will they know I’m special?”
Vanessa decides to choose an outfit for school that will show how special she is. She chooses a feathery boa, a tutu, polka-dot leggings, shiny shoes, and a green hat. Instead of thinking she is special, her classmates are unsure of what to think about her clothing choices.
“The day wasn’t special. Her outfit wasn’t special. And neither was Vanessa.” And Vanessa decides she hates her name because it is longer than the others. However, when Vanessa finally talks to her parents, they help her to see that just like the others, she is special too.
A young boy is encouraged by his mother to be confident by imagining himself as king. Told in the second person, the young boy views the first day of school through a royal lens. He has a golden toothbrush, and his towel has the royal crest on it. The bus is a carriage taking him to the fortress.
A girl on the playground helps him protect the kingdom from a fire-breathing dragon. Throughout the day, he is self-assured, generous, and kind as a king would be. A creative way to make your grand royals feel assured about the first day of school.
On the first day of school Mae said, “I am NOT going!” However, she gets dressed and eats breakfast. On the way to school, her mother tells her all of the fun things she will do, but Mae only thinks of things that could go wrong. Will she miss her mom? Will the other kids like her?
When they arrive at school, Mae climbs up a tree to hide. As she gets comfortable in the tree, another student, Rosie, climbs up too. She is not going to school either. Soon another person climbs the tree. But this time, it is a woman – a teacher!
As they talk, they learn that their reasons for not going to school are very similar. Finally, they realize that going to school won’t be as scary as they thought, and together they enter the school.
Ruby’s walk to school on the first day is not an ordinary journey, thanks to her creative imagination. Is that a tiger about to pounce? Are those beasts lurking around the corner? “How will Mom help her find her courage? Ruby and Mom’s adventures open the door for caregivers to ask children about their anxieties about new experiences.” Illustrations are unique and engaging.
School’s First Day of School is a fun and quirky book featuring the school as the main character. A brand new school relates the ups, downs, and goings-on during the first day of school. For example, the school witnesses a child who does not want to enter the school, so her mother carries her in.
Lunchtime starts with food and ends with garbage. The school admires a picture of itself drawn by one of the children. After school, just as children would share their day with their families, the school shares its experiences with its friend, the janitor.
El Cucuy is Scared Too! does a remarkable job of addressing the first day of school jitters in a humorous way while also including a multicultural aspect. The characters featured in the book are Latino, and Spanish terms are sprinkled throughout the book.
The illustrations are simple but colorful, cheerful, bright, as well as reflecting Latino themes. In addition, the author gives the book a fun twist when El Cucuy, the Latino version of the boogeyman, also becomes scared.
All Are Welcome is an essential book about inclusiveness and diversity. The bright, cheerfully colored illustrations portray children and flags from every corner of the earth. But diversity goes beyond culture, and this book depicts children with visual and mobility disabilities.
Kindness and inclusivity are evident throughout the book. The refrain “All are welcome here” is frequently repeated. And statements, like the quotes below, are found on almost every page:
“In our classroom safe and sound,
Fears are lost, and hope is found.”
“We’re part of a community,
Our strength is our diversity.
A shelter from adversity.”
“You have a place here.
You have a space here.”
Being kind and inclusive is an essential lesson to teach your grandchildren from the youngest age. This book is a beautiful way to begin this conversation.
Have you thought of reading back-to-school books to your grandchildren? Which books do you think are the most helpful for overcoming first day of school jitters? Which books do you remember from your childhood that had a similar theme?