Tuesday, January 14, 2020

12 picture books to make starting school easier for children

Starting school is a time of massive change and upheaval, and not just for the children heading off to school. There's new places to be, new routines to learn, new people to meet and new friends to make. All of that can be a little bit daunting for both parents and kids. Us adults are pretty good at coping, or at least pretending like we have it all together, but our little people sometimes need help to manage big feelings and emotions.

Will the other kids like me? Who will my teacher be? What will my classroom look like? Where is the playground? When do I get to go home? Why can't mum stay with me? There's so many questions and so many changes children have to work their way through. I've always been a big believer in books helping explain feelings, experiences and complex ideas to children, so it's no surprise we used picture books to help my daughter with the transition to school when she started prep. With another school year on the horizon I've put together a list of picture books that are great for helping children with the start of school, whether it be the start of kindy, prep, foundation, primary school, or changing to a new school, there's books for everyone {even the ones who definitely don't want to go to school}.

12 picture books to help make starting school easier for children

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FIRST DAY | Andrew Daddo


A really popular book here in Australia to calm the nerves about starting school is First Day, by Aussie actor and author Andrew Daddo. Are you ready? It'll be fun! You'll make new friends. New BFFs! You might have to be a bit brave ... It's the first day of school, but who is the most nervous about the big day? Daddo has captured how the first day of school feels for children themselves and also for us as parents. This one is a great read for preparing the whole family for the transition to big school.




MADDIE'S FIRST DAY | Penny Matthews


It is Maddie's first day of school and she has everything ready - her uniform, shoes, socks and hat. But there is one special thing that Maddie can't leave behind - her blanky! The excitement of the first day of school, new experiences and making friends are the main themes for this book. Matthews focuses on moments throughout the day that might seem small and insignificant to adults, but are extremely important for children.



MY FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL | Rosie Smith


On my first day, I will meet new friends and learn new things... What about you? Whether big or small, feathered or furry, the first day of school can be a lot of fun! Using cute illustrations of different animals, My First Day at School captures the fun of learning and making new friends at school.




STARTING SCHOOL | Jane Godwin


Tim, Hannah, Sunita, Joe and Polly are all off to school for the first time. Would you like to meet them and see how they go? There are new friends to make, fun ways to learn, and lots of different things to discover. Starting School focuses on the different experiences and feelings of the five children as they begin school for the first time. Each page focuses on a different area of the school and experience from the day such as making friends, snack time, the playground and in the classroom.





THE DAY YOU BEGIN | Jacqueline Woodson


There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. 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. The Day You Begin is a great book about overcoming nerves and celebrating what makes everyone unique.


PICTURE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN STARTING AT A NEW SCHOOL OR STARTING A NEW SCHOOL YEAR


It's not just children who are going to school for the first time that may be experiencing some nerves. Kids who are changing to a new school will be facing the exact same fears as if they were starting school again for the first time. Similarly, some children get really anxious about starting a new grade at school after a long holiday break. Will their friends be in their class? Will they make new friends? What will the teacher be like? The start of the school year can be a daunting time even for seasoned school kids. The following books are really good for kids who are transitioning school, or moving up grades.




THE NIGHT BEFORE FIRST GRADE | Penny Matthews


The Night Before First Grade follows Penny as she prepares for her first day of Grade One with her best friend Jenny. She's full of excitement as she knows she'll have her best friend by her side, but then not everything goes to plan. Fun rhymes and cute illustrations show how Penny overcomes her nerves and makes the most of the situation. This is the perfect book for children moving into first grade, especially if their best friend won't be in the same class. It's also great for any country where the school year starts in summer.




OLD FRIENDS NEW FRIENDS | Andrew Daddo


What happens when you're super excited for the new school year with all your friends, but when you get to school none of them are in your new class? Your tummy bubbling away with excitement suddenly starts squelching doing cartwheels. But it's not all bad, now there's a bunch of new friends to make and at lunch time the playground will be full of old friends too. Old Friends New Friends is a great book about being brave and has a lot of coping strategies for children when they're faced with unexpected change.




PICTURE BOOKS TO HELP KIDS WHO DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL


Some kids will be so anxious, or just completely disinterested, that they flat out refuse to go to school. To help them with starting school, or going back to school, try these picture books below. All the main characters start out refusing to go to school for various reasons, but they may convince your kids that school is fun after-all.




THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL | Mo Willems


Let me start by saying this book is hilarious! Pigeon thinks he knows everything so why does he have to go to school anyway? The Pigeon Has to Go to School starts out with all the what if's pigeon thinks might happen at school. What if he doesn't like it? What if the teacher doesn't like him? I mean, what if he learns TOO MUCH!?! The hilarious illustrations and sarcasm will have kids rolling around with laughter, and by then end they'll probably want to go to school too. If you want even more laughs, check out all the other Pigeon books by Mo Willems.




I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL | Stephanie Blake



I Don't Want to go to School is the story of Simon the super rabbit and he won't go to school. No way! But, after his first day of school he changes his mind and there's no way he wants to go home. This is a good picture book particularly for little who boys who may be trying to hold in the fact that they're anxious to go to school.




DEAR TEACHER | Amy Husband


Dear Teacher is a hilarious collection of letters from Michael to his new teacher Miss Brookes explaining why he can't go to class. From traveling to the pyramids of Egypt to getting attacked by pirates and going to the moon in a rocket ship, each letter is increasingly outlandish and covered with Michael's incredibly funny sketches from his many adventures. When Michael's teacher writes back telling him how sorry she is he'll miss all of the exciting school activities planned for the year, Michael realises all the fun he'd really miss out on.




OTHER PICTURE BOOKS THAT HELP WITH STARTING SCHOOL


Not all picture books about starting school focus on the child's experience, some very cleverly convey messages about being nervous, learning new routines and making friends from the perspective of someone else.



HOW TO GET YOUR TEACHER READY | Jean Reagan


It's not just kids who are anxious about starting school, the teachers will be too! With a class full of new little people to get to know your teacher may be just as nervous as you. How To Get Your Teacher Ready is an instructional style how-to book that gives students plenty of ways to help make the teacher feel welcome and ready for the year ahead. This adorable book shows children how to harness their nerves and handle situations that may go wrong. This book is quite long compared to others so would be great for kids who might be going into older grades, or who are nervous about going into a new class.




SCHOOL'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL | Adam Rex


It's not just school kids and teachers who get nervous about the first day of school... the school is nervous too. School is used to it just being him and janitor, but now he has to meet teachers and children too. What will the children do? Will they like him? School's First Day of School starts out a bit rough, but then he learns new things and realises it's not that bad being a school at all.









Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase. All books purchased from Book Depository come with free worldwide shipping.

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