Books for the First Day of School

Suddenly my summer has become all about one word. Not about the summer I want back: joyful days of rest, relaxed schedules, empty calendars, and sunny days. Or even the summer that was: whining, boredom, endless hunger, fighting, and unmet goals.  Instead, summer is now about: SCHOOL!

  • School supplies
  • School lunches
  • School schedules
  • School backpacks
  • School friends
  • School, school, school, school….

And I have done nothing. Not. One. Thing. Did I mention it is a week away?

Worse yet, my third daughter starts Kindergarten and I have done nothing. Not. One. Thing. When my oldest daughter started Kindergarten, I checked out every “first day of school” book six months in advance. We daily went through the Kindergarten screening packet, reviewing colors, shapes, letters and numbers. We met with other kids going into Kindergarten so that she would know people in her class. We bought her backpack/lunch box/school supplies way ahead of time. Third daughter? Not. One. Thing. Kindergarten screening? No. Chicken pox booster? No. Backpack? No. I am only partially confident that she is actually registered to go to Kindergarten. (I jest, she is registered…I think.)

Since I am nothing if not consistent (at least on this one issue), it seems like the best place to start is with books. (Those other things are optional, right?!)  There are so many good “first day of school” books that could be listed here, this list is not exhaustive. But here are some of my favorites.

Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes) – Of all the books about going to school, this is one of the best. It has it all, the excitement of looking forward to school, the agony of bullying, the struggle of parental intervention, and the beauty of confidence discovered.

The Kissing Hand (Audrey Penn) – For your nervous or struggling student, this book is a must read. Chester’s mom creatively gives her son a reminder that her love stays with him all the time, even at school. The Kissing Hand routine has become an essential part of one of my children’s school days.

Amazing Grace (Mary Hoffman) – Amazing Grace is an excellent story about persistence and confidence despite being told a goal is unreachable.

Splat the Cat (Rob Scotton) – Splat has every excuse imaginable for why he cannot go to school. Through bravery, a little push, and a lot of encouragement, he learns that school is something to look forward to.

Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten (Toni Buzzeo) – Annie’s wild antics will give your new student the comic relief they need to relax their nerves.

Miss Bindegarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (Joseph Slate) – Everyone’s favorite Kindergarten teacher will show your child how she gets ready for her class with her hilarious students.

Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School (Herman Parish) – Again in the comic relief genre, your child will be encouraged that they will never misunderstand things quite as thoroughly as Amelia Bedelia.

First Day Jitters (Julie Danneberg) – In full disclosure, I have not actually read this book. I know, it is a major faux pas to recommend a book you have never read. But this book has been recommended to me so many times as a teacher and read by several of my children’s teachers on the first day of school, that I am confident it belongs on this list. Also, it will finally give me something to do with the third daughter that I have not done with the others.

May these books, read on your lap, calm those nervous tummies and dry those tear-brimmed eyes.



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