If, like me, you have a child starting school this year, you will be full of mixed emotions: sadness that the end of their early childhood years is nigh; joy for all the new experiences they are about to encounter; trepidation at how they will cope in the big kids playground and relief at having them occupied five days a week (or is that just me?).
Call me a librarian (yes, I am a librarian), but I feel like books are one of the best ways for a family to explore some of the changes and emotions that starting school brings about. Whether they are super confident, or feeling apprehensive, children’s books are a great way to introduce new experiences such as starting school or going back to school. Books are a way of entering the world of the classroom from the safety of a bedroom or the lap of a loved parent or grandparent.
There is a stack of books about starting school, but not all are created equal. The ones below are my personal favourites, collected over many years of reviewing books, being a teacher librarian, and reading such books to anxious and excited groups of kindergarten children who visit my library. This is an exciting time of year and it is such a milestone in life so it is fitting to purchase or borrow some gorgeous books to celebrate and commemorate the occasion.
The books below are all about starting school, and one of these titles could be the book that connects with your child and eases all their school fears, or excites them all the more for their very first day. Finding the right book for the right child is a privilege and a joy, and when you see your child connect with a book it is magical… and also means you will be reading that book every night for many, many years to come without skipping any of the words.
My Top 11 Books About Starting School
- ‘Starting School’ (2013), written by Jane Godwin and illustrated by Anna Walker, Penguin Books Australia.
- ‘First Day’ (2013), written by Andrew Daddo and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley, Harper Collins.
- ‘The Terrible Suitcase’ (2012), written by Emma Allen and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, Omnibus Books. Read my full review of this one here.
- ‘I am Too Absolutely Small for School’ (2003) written and illustrated by Lauren Child, Candlewick Press.
- ‘The Playground is Like a Jungle‘ (2014) written by Shona Innes and illustrated by Irisz Anocs, Five Mile Press.
- ‘Do I Have to Go to School?’ (2006), written by Pat Thomas and illustrated by Lesley Harker, Hodder Children’s Press.
- ‘Fiona the Pig’s Big Day’ (2006), written and illustrated by Leigh Hobbs, Penguin Books.
- ‘Starting School’ (1988), written by Janet Ahlberg and illustrated by Allan Ahlberg, Viking.
- ‘Millie Starts School’ (2001), written by Jane Godwin and illustrated by David Cox, Puffin.
- ‘Jessica’s Box’ (2008), Written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas, New Frontier Press.
- ‘Grug Goes to School’ (2009), written and illustrated by Ted Prior.
Using Books to Help Ease Worries
As you read one or all of the books listed, explore the illustrations in detail and ask some open ended questions such as:
- Can you see the desks, I wonder what might go in your desk?
- I wonder which character is the teacher? What do you think your teacher might look like or sound like?
- Can you see all the children in the playground? What sorts of things are they doing, I wonder what you might do in the playground?
- Can you see that little boy sitting all alone in the picture? What might you do to help him feel less lonely? What might you do if you feel lonely?
- Do you think you could draw another illustration for this book with you in it?
- Are there any characters in this book which seem a little bit like you?
May you start of the school year be full of joy, not too many scraped knees, no lost water bottles or hats and many, many beautiful books!