Picture Books to Start Off the School Year

August 18, 2021 – Sharon Anderson, Youth Services

The first week of school sets the tone for the whole school year. Going back to school – or starting school for the first time – is a momentous time in a child’s life. It can also be anxiety inducing for both parent and child. School anxiety can be hard for children and heart-wrenching for parents. Sharing a picture book together can serve as a discussion starter and can help your child find the words they need to name and to understand the feelings they are experiencing. Whether your child is heading off to school for the first time or is an old pro at navigating lockers and homework, sharing stories can help assuage those first day jitters.

For a child who is nervous about starting school, a book can help lessen that anxiety. Books can help reassure children about school expectations, new routines, making new friends, or dealing with anxiety and fears. Pick up one of these stories:
Mae’s First Day of School by Kate Berube – School is scary and Mae does not want to go. Her anxiety builds as she is walking to school, but then she meets Rosie and Ms. Pearl, and they learn how to conquer their fears together.
First Day Critter Jitters by Jory John – If your child is nervous about the first day of school, imagine how hard it would be for a snake to strap on a backpack! This funny picture book shows the first day anxieties of all kinds of animals, showing that everyone gets a little nervous sometimes.
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes – Starting kindergarten is a milestone and the hero of this story is up to the challenge. This empowering book could be just the confidence booster your child needs.

If your child is anxious about moving to the next grade or a new school, a picture book can help ease those fears and remind them of all the fun they are going to have.
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex – It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself.
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival – Ruby finds something unexpected: a Worry. It’s not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger… and a little bigger… Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and it is all she can think about.

If your child is nervous about making friends, a story can help them figure out what it means to be a friend or how to make a friend. Take a look at these stories:
Be a Friend by Salina Yonn – A young mime feels lonely at school until a little girl picks up an invisible ball and throws it back to him. Together, they discover that friends don’t have to speak a word to be able to communicate and connect.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig – No one at school seems to notice Brian or to include him in their games…until a new kid comes to class and a simple act of kindness transforms that invisible boy into a friend.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins – Penelope Rex is a young dinosaur whose first day of school doesn’t go as planned when she eats her classmates. Not surprisingly, the other children are scared of Penelope until she learns a lesson that helps her understand how her classmates feel.

Do you have a favorite book that you have shared with your child during the first week of school? A favorite story that made it easier to send your little one off to school? Please share with us on Facebook. And stop by the library where you’ll find a great selection of back to school stories, old and new, on display to help your child start the year off with confidence.

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