Back to School Themed books for young children

Traditionally I look forward to September. I’ve always viewed it as a chance to start fresh; a clean slate; an end to the oppressive summer heat and a return of my beloved rain. This year, I’m dreading September: my eldest starts kindergarten. Having not used either daycare or preschool, I’m struggling to come to terms with this massive change to our daily routine. Even though I was raised by parents who were public school principals and am married to a public school teacher, I am trying desperately to put the brakes on the few weeks left of summer. In an effort to prep my eldest (and, let’s be honest, myself) for September we have been reading “back to school” books.

Whether you can’t wait for September to arrive or want to hide under the covers like me, these school-themed books are great for all kids!

Franklin Goes to School (by Paulette Bourgeois):  I’m a big fan of Franklin the turtle.  He is a sweet little character who encounters challenges to which every child can relate.  Poor Franklin suffers from a jumpy tummy as he waits with his friends and parents for the school bus to arrive.  After a tentative start to his first day of school, Franklin discovers the great joy of learning and comes home with no recollection of his earlier nervous tummy.

Happy School Year (by Susan Milord): This story was actually inspired by true events.  Happy School Year shares examples of how different each child’s start to the school day can be.  Regardless of how they start they all end up at school ready to learn.  The school featured in this book has a lovely celebration to launch the start of the academic year.  Feel good, empathetic and family-oriented – a favourite book in our house.

The Kissing Hand (by Audrey Penn): If you want to tear up, give this book a read.  I don’t know how many times I’ve read it and I still can’t get through it without my eyes leaking.  Little Chester Raccoon is heading off to school for the first time. He is nervous.  His mother shows him how to hold onto one of her special kisses throughout his time away.  A wonderful story.

Miss Bindergarten Has A Wild Day in Kindergarten (by Joseph Slate):  I love this book for a multitude of reasons.  First I think the chaos presented in the book is probably an accurate depiction of what a kindergarten classroom is like.  Second, the alphabet is incorporated in a very subtle way.  Third, a wide variety of wild animals are the characters in the book.  Finally, the story gives a great glimpse into what children can expect to learn and experience in kindergarten.

Officer Buckle and Gloria (by Peggy Rathmann): While this book isn’t about the first day of school, it is about learning in a school setting.  This book is most entertaining and demonstrates the consequence of when pride gets in the way.  The story is humorous and yet manages to extend a number of valuable lessons.

Froggy Goes to School (by Jonathan London): Good ol’ Froggy; he’s always in a pickle.  Today is Froggy’s first day of school and he can barely control his excitement.  If your child is one who bubbles over with enthusiasm this is a good book for them.  Poor Froggy wiggles right out of his seat, forgets to use his inside voice, and encounters the principal.  My kids’ favourite line from this book is “bubble bubble, toot toot, chicken, airplane, soldier”!

Wombat Goes to School (by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley):  The Wombat books are pure entertainment.  They are incredibly simplistic but you can’t help but crack a smile.  The wombat loves food – especially carrots.  This story follows the adventures of the wombat as he stumbles into a school and discovers the joys of kid lunches.  Fun!

Leo the Late Bloomer (by Robert Kraus): One of my boys has taken his sweet time meeting every developmental milestone.  Leo the Late Bloomer was a book written for us, as his parents.  While this story isn’t specific about going to school, it is a wonderful book that celebrates the fact everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds.  In the end Leo is able to complete all the tasks and he is very proud of his personal accomplishment.

The Berenstain Bears Go To School (by Stan & Jan Berenstain):  I have loved the Berenstain Bears books since I was a little girl.  They are a great collection of books that discuss a multitude of stages every child encounters when growing up.  The Berenstain Bears Go to School is about Sister Bear heading off to kindergarten.  She has a lovely visit with her teacher prior to the start of full-time school.  The book does a great job of helping children understand what they can expect to encounter in kindergarten.