12 Books and Shows to Get Your Kid Excited About Starting School
School’s First Day of School
by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson
The concept is genius: A new school building is nervous for the first day of classes, worrying whether the teachers and kids will be nice to him. The story-telling from the school’s perspective—including his candid observations about a freckle-faced kindergartner who initially didn’t want to come inside, but was happy by the end of the day—works as the perfect proxy to calm your little ones’ fears. It also helps kids understand the activities in a typical school day, such as arriving on the bus, circle time on the carpet, lunch, and learning about shapes. One of the best passages: “The freckled girl smiled when the teacher stuck her drawing onto the school with a pushpin. ‘Ouch,’ said the school. But he didn’t mind, not really.”
The 12 Days of Kindergarten
by Jenna Lettice
A twist on the 12 Days of Christmas, this cheerful, rhyming story highlights what a new student saw at school, including “four chunky crayons,” “three nice friends,” and “a cubby of my very own.” The last page includes 30 school-related stickers.
by Todd Parr
If your child is particularly anxious about what his teacher will be like, this colorful book is worth a read. It lists reasons why teachers are great, including “They help you find new talents,” “Teachers make the classroom a great place to be,” and the best one, “They love coming to school, and they make you love it, too.” Keep the book in good condition, and give to the teacher as a gift at the end of the year or on Teacher Appreciation Day. The first page of the book allows your child to personalize it for his teacher.
A New School: Stories In Six Voices
by Sally Derby
Six fictional students (one each from kindergarten to fifth grade) express their worries, relief, and perspectives about school in 24 free-verse poems that your child will undoubtedly relate to. Readers learn that Katie, a second-grader, is upset about making her twos backwards until her teacher confides that he used to do it as well. And first-grader Zach is anxious about starting a new year: “I knew which was my seat and how to ask to use the bathroom and where it was. Now I have to learn everything all over again. What if I make a mistake?” This book is an especially good pick if you have children in different grades, and can be re-read every year throughout elementary school.
Don’t Go To School!
by Máire Zepf
In a funny role reversal, Benno, a bear, is excited about his first day at school, but his mom begs him to stay home. Eventually they get to school, and the mama bear doesn’t want to leave. Benno’s comforting words—“New things are a little scary sometimes”—and actions make everything work out in the end.
The School Book
by Todd Parr
The School Book walks your child through a typical day in Parr's signature style of brightly colored illustrations and minimal text. Kids will learn about fun school activities, including going to the library, painting, and playing outside. The final pages share a message of kindness.
Butterflies on the First Day of School
by Annie Silvestro and Dream Chen
A mom responds smartly to her daughter's jitters in Butterflies on the First Day of School. She tells Rosie that their are "butterflies in your belly," but the bus pulls up before she can explain what that means. When Rosie sits next to a girl on the bus who has the same teacher as she does, a few butterflies come out of Rosie's mouth, and she feels better. Butterflies escape again when she befriends a classmate and ends up having a great day.
The King of Kindergarten
by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Is your kid worried about fitting in? He will see how friendly classmates can be in The King Of Kindergarten. When a boy's mom bestows that title upon him, he feels confident enough to ask a classmate to battle a dragon on the playground, share a pudding with a lunch buddy, and sing with the other students.
Pete the Kitty's First Day of Preschool
by Kimberly and James Dean
In Pete the Kitty's First Day of Preschool, readers learn that the famous feline likes his class so much he doesn't want to leave! Whimsical drawings, rhyming text, and relatable scenarios make the board book one to read on repeat leading up to preschool.
TV Show: Bubble Guppies
In the catchy song "Get Ready for School," Molly assures viewers, "Don't be scared. It's okay. The teacher will show you the way." The Bubble Guppies help kids find their cubbies and nap mats. Stream episode 1, season 3, on Amazon Prime Video.
TV Show: Sesame Street
Cookie Monster thinks his teachers won't like him, but Kermit and other pals explain why he's wrong. Watch "First Day of School With Cookie Monster" on YouTube.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
Daniel doesn't want his dad to leave when he walks him to school. But his dad explains why he can't stay and assures him that "grown-ups come back." They tell each other, "Ugga mugga" (aka "I love you"), before Dad heads to work. Stream episode 1, season 3, on Amazon Prime Video.