Back to School Book Lists

Posted on August 8, 2016

by Katie M

When I was a child, my favorite thing in the world was back to school shopping. Folders, pencils, binders, markers, erasers… I couldn’t get enough! My friends were the same way. One of my friends loved school so much she would sleep with her new school supplies next to her the night before the first day. Now, to be sure, most kids are a little less enthusiastic about trading in their flip-flops and bathing suits for uniforms and textbooks. Eager, scared, nervous, excited…children (and parents!) experience a multitude of emotions before the first day of school. Whether they’re starting daycare, kindergarten, or heading to a new school, it’s perfectly normal for kids to get the jitters before a new school year. Consult this book list for back to school suggestions dealing with everything from riding the bus for the first time to encountering bullies. Also included is a list of books for parents who are eager to help their children succeed in school.

Book for the First Day of School

Llama Llama misses Mama / Anna DewdneyLlama Llama misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

Ages 2-5

Llama Llama experiences separation anxiety on his first day of nursery school. Available in Print and eBook.

The night before preschool / by Natasha Wing ; illustrated by Amy WummerThe Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing

Ages 3-5

In rhyming text based on “The night before Christmas,” Billy is too nervous to sleep the night before he begins preschool, but a kind teacher and new friends fill the day with fun.

How do dinosaurs go to school? / Jane Yolen ; illustrated by Mark TeagueHow Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Yolen

Ages 3-5

Explains how little dinosaurs should behave during a typical school day.

I am too absolutely small for school / Lauren ChildI Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child

Ages 3-7

Not happy about having to go to school, Lola explains to her older brother that there are many good reasons why she doesn’t need to attend, but after Charlie tells her about all the fun things that go on there, Lola becomes less nervous and starts looking forward to attending her first day with her special invisible friend, Soren Lorensen, at her side.

The Kissing hand / Audrey Penn ; illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. LeakThe Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Ages 3-8

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him. Available in Print, eBook and Spanish eBook.

Wemberly worried / Kevin HenkesWemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Ages 4-8

A mouse named Wemberly, who worries about everything, finds that she has a whole list of things to worry about when she faces the first day of nursery school.

Pete the cat : rocking in my school shoes / story by Eric Litwin ; art by James DeanPete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin

Ages 4-8

Pete the cat wears his school shoes when visiting the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and more while singing his special song.

Follow the line to school / words and art, Laura LjungkvistFollow The Line To School by Laura Ljungkvist

Ages 4-8

Encourages young readers to follow the line as it travels through a typical school day, including story-time, recess, library time, and show-and-tell.

David goes to school / by David ShannonDavid Goes To School by David Shannon

Ages 4-8

David’s activities in school include chewing gum, talking out of turn, and engaging in a food fight, causing his teacher to say over and over, “No, David!”

Is your buffalo ready for kindergarten? / by Audrey Vernick ; illustrated by Daniel JenneweinIs Your Buffalo Ready For Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick

Ages 4-8

Although kindergarten provides unique challenges for a young buffalo, one who follows the rules and tries his best will get along fine.

My best friend is as sharp as a pencil : and other funny classroom portraits / by Hanoch PivenMy Best Friend Is As Sharp As A Pencil: And Other Funny Classroom Portraits by Hanoch Piven

Ages 4-8

When her grandma asks her about school, a girl draws a class portrait, adding details that show what makes each person special.

The Night before kindergarten / by Natasha Wing The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

Ages 4-8

It’s the first day of school! Join the kids as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all – saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. But maybe it won’t be so hard once they discover just how much fun kindergarten really is! Colorful illustrations illuminate this uplifting takeoff on the classic Clement C. Moore Christmas poem. Available in Print and eBook.

Books for Kids Riding the Bus for the First Time

The Little school bus / Margery Cuyler ; illustrated by Bob KolarThe Little School Bus by Margery Cuyler

Ages 3-6

A happy little school bus and Driver Bob wake up early to pick up children, drop them off at school, then head to the garage for some minor repairs.

Lucky school bus / written by Melinda Melton Crow ; illustrated by Chad ThompsonLucky School Bus by Melinda Melton Crow

Ages 4-6

It is the first day of school, and School Bus is excited. Tractor, Train, and Fire Truck wish him luck on his big day!

School bus / Donald CrewsSchool Bus by Donald Crews

Ages 4-8

Follows the progress of school buses as they take children to school and bring them home again.

I'm your bus / by Marilyn Singer ; pictures by Evan PolenghiI’m Your Bus by Marilyn Singer

Ages 4-8

In rhyming text, a school bus describes its busy day transporting children to and from school.

Ten rules you absolutely must not break if you want to survive the school bus / by John Grandits ; illustrated by Michael Allen AustinTen Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want To Survive The School Bus by John Grandits

Ages 5-8

Before Kyle rides a school bus for the first time, his older brother gives him a list of rules he must follow but after breaking every single one the first day, Kyle discovers the rule his brother left out.

Books About Making Friends & Dealing with Bullying

Friends by Eric CarleFriends by Eric Carle

Ages 3-5

A tale of childhood friendship by the award-winning creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar features a spunky boy who ventures across rivers, over mountains and through rainstorms to reunite with a best friend who has moved away, in a story that is complemented by Carle’s signature painted paper collage artwork and dedicated to the author’s longtime wife.

Bully / Laura Vaccaro SeegerBully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Ages 4-7

Interacting with other animals in mean-spirited ways, a little bull calls names and behaves in an intimidating manner until his bullying behavior is brought to his attention. By the Caldecott Honor-winning author of First the Egg.

My new friend is so fun! / by Mo WillemsMy New Friend Is So Fun! by Mo Willems

Ages 4-8

Gerald the elephant and Snake fear that Piggie and Brian Bat will have so much fun together they will no longer need their best friends.

How to be a friend : a guide to making friends and keeping them / Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc BrownHow To Be A Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Ages 5-8

Dinosaur characters illustrate the value of friends, how to make friends, and how to be and not to be a good friend.

The invisible boy / by Trudy LudwigThe Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Ages 6-9

Brian has always felt invisible at school, but when a new student, Justin, arrives, everything changes. Available in Print and eBook.

Books For Parents with Kids in School

Little girls can be mean : four steps to bully-proof girls in the early grades / Michelle Anthony and Reyna LindertLittle Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps To Bully-Proof Girls In The Early Grades by Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert

In today’s world, girls are facing myriad friendship issues, including bulling and cliques. As a parent, you are likely wondering how to guide your daughter through these situations effectively. ‘Little Girls Can Be Mean’ is the first book to tackle the unique social struggles of elementary-aged girls, giving you the tools to help your child become stronger, happier, and better able to enjoy friendships and handle social cruelty.

Teenagers 101 : what a top teacher wishes you knew about helping your kid succeed / Rebecca Deurlein, Ed.DTeenagers 101: What a Top Teacher Wishes You Knew About Helping Your Kid Succeed by Rebecca Deurlein, Ed.D

As a parent, you want to see your teen succeed in school and in life–and you do your best to help. But how do you know what will make a difference? Maybe it’s time to listen to a teacher. Day in and day out, teachers watch kids interact with peers, make decisions, deal with difficulty, accept or deflect responsibility . . . Teachers are our eyes and ears–and there’s a lot they wish we knew. Veteran high school teacher Rebecca Deurlein examines how we can support our teens as they cope with the challenges of the modern world.

Middle school makeover : improving the way you and your child experience the middle school years / Michelle IcardMiddle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years by Michelle Icard

Middle School Makeover is a guide for parents and educators to help the tweens in their lives navigate the socially fraught hallways, gyms, and cafeterias of middle school. The book helps parents, teachers, and other adults in middle school settings to understand the social dilemmas and other issues that kids today face. Author Michelle Icard covers a large range of topics, beginning with helping us understand what is happening in the brains of tweens and how these neurological development affects decision-making and questions around identity. She also addresses social media, dating, and peer exclusion. Using both recent research and her personal, extensive experience working with middle-school-aged kids and their parents, Icard offers readers concrete and practical advice for guiding children through this chaotic developmental stage while also building their confidence.

The Drama years : real girls talk about surviving middle school -- bullies, brands, body image, and more / Haley Kilpatrick with Whitney JoinerThe Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School — Bullies, Brands, Body Image, and More by Haley Kilpatrick with Whitney Joiner

An urgently needed and insightful guidebook for parents and teachers struggling to help girls navigate the often-difficult transition into adolescence by the founder of Girl Talk. It has never been easy to be a middle school girl. In the few short years between grade school and high school, girls go through an incredible number of physical and mental changes, making this the most formative–and precarious–time in their lives. Groups form and turn on each other; classmates whisper about who’s saying what to whom; childhood friends tell trusted secrets; and just deciding where to sit in the lunchroom can be a daily struggle. Then there’s the biological wave of changes–all the growth spurts, new curves, and new hormones–and suddenly, there are more grown-up things to worry about like dealing with guys and sexuality. All the while, they’re constantly bombarded by contradictory and confusing messages from society and the media–not to mention the world of video chat, texting, Facebook, and Twitter. In 2002, when she was only fifteen, Haley Kilpatrick created Girl Talk, a nonprofit organization of more than 35,000 members dedicated to helping girls deal with these issues. The Drama Years is packed with the voices of tweens, who share their experiences, anecdotes, and advice on everything from stress to body image to getting along with parents. This is a survival guide written from the trenches, packed with real life examples and practical strategies, to help parents and daughters survive The Drama Years. Available in Print and eAudiobook.

How children succeed : grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character / Paul ToughHow Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

A foremost “New Yorker” and “New York Times” journalist reverses three decades of thinking about what creates successful children, solving the mysteries of why some succeed and others fail — and of how to move individual children toward their full potential for success. Available in Print, Audiobook, eBook and eAudiobook.

The good school : how smart parents get their kids the education they deserve / Peg TyreThe Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve by Peg Tyre

Award-winning education journalist Peg Tyre mines up-to-the-minute research to equip parents with the tools and knowledge necessary to get their children the best education possible. We all know that the quality of education served up to our children in U.S. schools ranges from outstanding to shockingly inadequate. How can parents tell the difference? And how do they make sure their kids get what’s best? Even the most involved and informed parents can feel overwhelmed and confused when making important decisions about their child’s education. And the scary truth is that evaluating a school based on test scores and college admissions data is like selecting a car based on the color of its paint. Synthesizing cutting-edge research and firsthand reporting, Peg Tyre offers parents far smarter and more sophisticated ways to assess a classroom and decide if the school and the teacher have the right stuff. Passionate and persuasive, The Good School empowers parents to make sense of headlines ; constructively engage teachers, administrators, and school boards ; and figure out the best option for their child, be that a local public school, a magnet program, a charter school, homeschooling, parochial, or private.

Queen bees and wannabes : helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boys, and the new realities of girl world / Rosalind WisemanQueen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman (3rd edition)

“My daughter used to be so wonderful. Now I can barely stand her and she won’t tell me anything. How can I find out what’s going on?” “There’s a clique in my daughter’s grade that’s making her life miserable. She doesn’t want to go to school anymore. Her own supposed friends are turning on her, and she’s too afraid to do anything. What can I do?”

Welcome to the wonderful world of your daughter’s adolescence. A world in which she comes to school one day to find that her friends have suddenly decided that she no longer belongs. Or she’s teased mercilessly for wearing the wrong outfit or having the wrong friend. Or branded with a reputation she can’t shake. Or pressured into conforming so she won’t be kicked out of the group. For better or worse, your daughter’s friendships are the key to enduring adolescence–as well as the biggest threat to her well-being. In her groundbreaking book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, Empower co-founder Rosalind Wiseman takes you inside the secret world of girls’ friendships. Wiseman has spent more than a decade listening to thousands of girls talk about the powerful role cliques play in shaping what they wear and say, how they respond to boys, and how they feel about themselves. In this candid, insightful book, she dissects each role in the clique: Queen Bees, Wannabes, Messengers, Bankers, Targets, Torn Bystanders, and more. “What You Can Do to Help” sections offer extensive sample scripts, bulleted lists, and other easy-to-use advice to get you inside your daughter’s world and help you help her. It’s not just about helping your daughter make it alive out of junior high. With its revealing look into the secret world of teenage girls and cliques, enlivened with the voices of dozens of girls and a much-needed sense of humor, Queen Bees and Wannabes will equip you with all the tools you need to build the right foundation to help your daughter make smarter choices and empower her during this baffling, tumultuous time of life.

Featured Image Credit: School Bus (Pixabay, Creative Commons license).

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