The 10 Best Back-to-School Books to Help Prepare Your Child for Their First Day

Get your child excited about the upcoming school year with these back-to-school books. Perfect for preschool and elementary-aged kids.

mom reading book boy couch snuggle
Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Whether your child is a new learner or a seasoned one, there's a good chance they are or will experience back-to-school jitters. Many children find the start of the school year to be anxiety-inducing. But you can ease your child's worries—and reduce their stress—by talking with them and reading to them. Yes, books about school can make the transition from couch to classroom easier.

Here are 10 sweet (and hilarious) back-to-school books designed to inspire, motivate, and prepare your child for the upcoming year.

First Day Critter Jitters

Written by Jory John and illustrated by Liz Climo, First Day Critter Jitters is great for little learners who are worried about their first day of school. The pictures in this book are colorful and bright. The characters are fun and, well, funny, and this book does a great job of easing spirits (and minds) in a hilarious way. School isn't scary after all.

The Day You Begin

A New York Times bestseller, The Day You Begin is about being brave in the face of adversity and fear. Feeling different? Out of place? This story will help young readers find their place not by fitting in, but by filling out. So "the world opens itself up a little wider to make some space for you."

We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Looking for a hilarious and unique back-to-school story? We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins definitely delivers, with a great story and a whole lot of laughs. But what's the premise of this fun-filled book? Well, it follows the life (and first day of school adventures) of Penelope Rex, a dinosaur with a taste for her new classmates. Laugh, love, and learn.

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School

After hopping on the bus "like a bunny" and confusing her name tag with the game tag, the literal-minded Amelia Bedelia finds school more challenging than expected. She, like many, gets discouraged. But she pushes on and through and learns some valuable lessons along the way.

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School

Part of the ever-popular pigeon series, The Pigeon HAS to Go to School is a hilarious read. But aren't they all?! Of course, the pigeon doesn't believe he needs school. He knows too much already—and what if he doesn't like his classmates or teacher? It's all too much. But the pigeon quickly learns school isn't just important, it's where he needs to be. Another winner from Mo Willems.

The King of Kindergarten

Stride into kindergarten with the positivity and confidence of The King of Kindergarten, a young boy who is ready to leave his mark—in school and on his teachers and peers. This rhythmic book is encouraging, uplifting, and perfect for children who are readying themselves for their first day of elementary school.

The Night Before Second Grade

While many back-to-school books focus on very young children and/or those entering kindergarten, The Night Before series helps ready youngsters for many grades, from preschool up to and through second grade. Why? Because while older children may know what to expect from school, they have worries, too.

Pete the Cat Rockin' In My School Shoes

Pete the Cat is at it once more, but this time he's gearing up for school—with his new shoes, of course. Fun, colorful, and full of zip and pizazz, Pete the Cat Rockin' In My School Shoes delivers a great mini message: No matter what happens, it's "all good." Why? Because Pete doesn't worry. Goodness no!

Mae's First Day of School

It's Mae's first day, but she doesn't want to go. School is scary What if she's the only one who doesn't know how to read or write? But after making a friend—and befriending her teacher—Mae learns things aren't so bad. Her worries weren't unfounded but they were for naught. Poignant, nsightful, and respectful of little hearts.

Llama Llama Misses Mama

If your child is more worried about leaving you than going to school, you may want to read Llama Llama Misses Mama. Part of the popular Llama Llama series, this book address separation anxiety in an accessible and easy-to-understand way.

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