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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

16 Picture Books About Starting School

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}.

16 picture books about starting school for kids

First Day childrens book by Andrew Daddo about the first day of school

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.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon AU | AmazonCatch 

Maddies First Day picture book by Penny Matthews

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.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon AU | QBD Books | Catch

My First Day at School picture book by 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.


lets get ready for school jane porter

Let's Get Ready for School | Jane Porter

Let's Get Ready for School covers all the big questions kids have before they start - What will school be like? What will we do there? Do I have to go? Will every day be the same? It covers being prepared before they start and what they can expect during school and at the end of the day. I also love that it has a worry page to let kids know that everyone is nervous and worries about something, but that's ok, even parents worry sometimes too. It also covers diversity in the classroom.

AVAILABLE HERE:  Amazon AU | AmazonCatch

Starting School picture book by 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.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon AU | AmazonQBD Books

The Day You Begin picture book

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.

AVAILABLE HEREAmazon AU | AmazonCatch

wild guide to starting school book cover by philip and laura bunting

The Wild Guide to Starting School | Philip & Laura Bunting

The Wild Guide to Starting School covers everything your little wild one will need to know about starting school. From first day nerves and learning how to use school supplies to getting to know a new classroom, teacher and making new friends. The book is written by renowned children's author and illustrator Philip Bunting in conjunction with his author wife Laura, and uses animals, cute illustrations and a healthy dose of humour to make starting school seem less scary for both kids and parents.

AVAILABLE HERE:  Amazon AU | AmazonCatch | QBD Books


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 picture book by 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.

AVAILABLE HEREAmazon AU | AmazonCatch | QBD Books


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.

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.

AVAILABLE HERECatch | Amazon | Amazon AU | QBD Books

I dont want to go to school by stephanie blake

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 picture book

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.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon | Amazon AU | Catch


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 for school


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.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon | Amazon AU | QBD Books

schools first day of school book


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.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon | Amazon AUCatch

our class is a family picture book cover

Our Class is a Family | Shannon Olsen

"A family doesn't have to be who you're related to. It can be another special group who love and care for you too." Our Class is a Family is written by a teacher and explains to children how school is more than a place your go, but rather an extended family. Your class will be working together as a team and looking out for each other, just like a family. This is a great book for teachers to read to students in the first few days of the school year to help alleviate nerves and make them feel like they all belong.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon | Amazon AU

a letter from your teacher on the first day of school

A Letter From Your Teacher on the first day of school | Shannon Olsen

A Letter From Your Teacher on the first day of school is written from the perspective of the new class teacher. Through a letter, students are given the message that their new teacher is someone they will get to form a special bond with. Their teacher is not only there to help them academically, but also to cheer them on, and to provide a caring, safe environment for them to learn and grow.

AVAILABLE HERE: Amazon | Amazon AU

16 picture books about starting school

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