Today was my first day back at school and it has revved me up for another fabulous year in Kindergarten. I love dusting off my collection of picture books for back-to-school and I am always looking to expand my collection. Recently, several fans of the Kinder-Craze facebook page
shared their favorite stories to read during the first days of school. Here are a few fan favorites that are teacher tested and kid approved!
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1. Pete the Cat Rockin’ in my School Shoes
Pete the Cat is back—and this time he’s rocking in his school shoes. Pete discovers the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and lots of other cool places at school. And no matter where he goes, Pete never stops moving and grooving and singing his song . . . because it’s all good.
2. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
It’s the first day of kindergarten and Miss Bindergarten is hard at work getting the classroom ready for her twenty-six new students. Meanwhile, Adam Krupp wakes up, Brenda Heath brushes her teeth, and Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker. Miss Bindergarten puts the finishing touches on the room just in time, and the students arrive. Now the fun can begin! This rhyming, brightly illustrated book is the perfect way to practice the alphabet and to introduce young children to kindergarten.
3. The Night before Kindergarten
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 Christmas poem.
4. The Kissing Hand
School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children’s classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?
This popular picture book has sold more than a million copies and was named a Notable Book for Children by the American Library Association. “Perfectly executed in words and illustration, Chrysanthemum exemplifies Henkes’s talent for creating true picture stories for young audiences.”—The Horn Book
6. The Crayon Box that Talked
Yellow hates Red, so does Green, and no one likes Orange! Can these crayons quit arguing and learn to cooperate? Shane DeRolf’s deceptively simple poem celebrates the creation of harmony through diversity. In combination with Michael Letzig’s vibrant illustrations, young readers will understand that when we all work together, the results are much more colorful and interesting.
7. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
When all the letters of the alphabet race one another up the coconut tree, will there be enough room?
Of course there is always enough room for this rollicking alphabet chant that has been a children’s favorite for more than twenty years! Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault’s rhythmic text keeps the beat with Caldecott Honor illustrator Lois Ehlert’s bold, cheerful art. This winning combination has created a series of enduring Chicka Chicka favorites, and now, for the first time ever, the complete edition of the original Chicka Chicka Boom Boom story is available as a Classic Board Book. With sturdy pages and rounded corners, this portable edition of an irresistible alphabet romp will delight a new generation of young readers.
8. Can I Play Too?
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.
In Can I Play Too? Gerald and Piggie meet a new snake friend who wants to join in a game of catch. But don’t you need arms to catch?
Wemberly worried about spilling her juice, about shrinking in the bathtub, even about snakes in the radiator. She worried morning, noon, and night. “Worry, worry, worry,” her family said. “Too much worry.” And Wemberly worried about one thing most of all: her first day of school. But when she meets a fellow worrywart in her class, Wemberly realizes that school is too much fun to waste time worrying!
10. You Are Special
Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones–those with smooth wood and fine paint–always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.
In this heartwarming children’s tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is–no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.
This tale originally appeared within one of the chapters in the award-winning children’s bestseller Tell Me the Secrets.
11. David Goes to School
David Shannon’s beloved character is back and heading to school! This book is perfect for teaching students school rules in a way that makes them laugh and learn from all of David’s behavioral mistakes.
12. My Mouth is a Volcano!
This book is great to help young children who may need help controlling themselves or learning how to behave in a social setting.
13. Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker
Lacey Walker loves to talk. She talks all day, and sometimes all night. But when she loses her voice, Lacey learns the importance of listening.
14. First Day Jitters
Sarah Jane is worried about going to a new school. She refuses to get out of bed because she keeps imagining all the bad things that can happen. Readers will understand and sympathize with Sarah’s feelings and laugh when they discover the surprise ending to this delightful story.
15. Owl Babies
“I want my mommy!” Three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone, and they can’t help but wonder where she is. What is she doing? When will she be back? What scary things move all around them? Stunning illustrations from striking perspectives capture the anxious little owls as they worry. Not surprisingly, joyous flapping and dancing and bouncing greet the mother’s return, lending a celebratory tone to the ending of this comforting tale. Never has the plight of young ones who miss their mother been so simply told or so beautifully rendered.
16. Planet Kindergarten
This clever picture book will prepare young explorers to boldly go where they have never gone before: Planet Kindergarten. Suit up for a daring adventure as our hero navigates the unknown reaches and alien inhabitants of this strange new world. Hilarious and confidence-boosting, this exciting story will have new kindergarteners ready for liftoff!
17. Mouse’s First Day of School
Mouse decides to hide inside a bright red backpack…and ends up at school! As he explores this place full of colors, letters, and numbers, Mouse discovers a world beyond his imagination–and makes some friends along the way. Now a Classic Board Book, Mouse’s First Day of School is sure to entertain children with its simple, energetic text and sweet illustrations, as well as get readers excited about their own first trips to school.
18. The Rainbow Fish
The Rainbow Fish is an international best-seller and a modern classic. Eye-catching foil stamping, glittering on every page, offers instant child appeal, but it is the universal message at the heart of this simple story about a beautiful fish who learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions that gives the book its lasting value.
19. Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners
Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are Otters.
But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends?
Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you, advises Mr. Owl.
In her smart, playful style Laurie Keller highlights how to be a good friend and neighbor—simply follow the Golden Rule!
20. Don’t Eat the Teacher
It’s Sammy the Shark’s first day at school and he’s terribly excited about it. But, oh dear, when Sammy gets excited he just can’t help biting things. Can he get through the day without causing too much trouble and without eating the teacher? This book has a bite taken out of the top of it!
21. Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children
This award-winning prequel to Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is the perfect gift for anyone with little ones they love. When children have their buckets filled and learn how they can fill other people’s buckets too, they understand how special, valuable, and capable they are.
22. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
When a bus driver takes a break from his route, a very unlikely volunteer springs up to take his place-a pigeon! But you’ve never met one like this before. As he pleads, wheedles, and begs his way through the book, children will love being able to answer back and decide his fate. In his hilarious picture book debut, popular cartoonist Mo Willems perfectly captures a preschooler’s temper tantrum.
Owen had a fuzzy yellow blanket. “Fuzzy goes where I go,” said Owen. But Mrs. Tweezers disagreed. She thought Owen was too old for a blanket. Owen disagreed. No matter what Mrs. Tweezers came up with, Blanket Fairies or vinegar, Owen had the answer. But when school started, Owen’t mother knew just what to do, and everyone — Owen, Fuzzy, and even Mrs. Tweezers — was happy.
24. You’re Finally Here!
Hooray! You’re finally here! But where were you? A bunny bounces through a range of emotions in this funny picture book about how difficult it is to wait. At first he’s ecstatic that you, the reader, has arrived. But then he can’t help letting you know that waiting for you took too long, was way too boring, and even became insulting. The bunny is ready to forgive everything if you will promise to stay. But hold on—he has to take a phone call. Wait! Come back !Where are you going? Underneath this book’s silly, in-your-face humor are feelings true to every child who has had to wait for someone’s attention.
25. Rufus Goes to School
All Rufus Leroy Williams III wants is to go to school so he can learn to read his favorite book. But there’s one problem: he’s a pig and Principal Lipid says: “NO PIGS IN SCHOOL!” Rufus even gets a backpack, a lunchbox, and a blanket to prove he’s ready. But Mr. Lipid won’t budge. Is there ANYTHING Rufus can do to change his mind? Kim Griswell and illustrator Valeri Gorbachev have created a love letter to reading that’s also a charming, original, and child-friendly first-day-of-school story.
26. Llama Llama Misses Mama
Strange new teacher. Strange new toys. Lots of kids and lots of noise!
What would Llama like to do?
Llama Llama feels so new . . .
It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool! And Llama Llama’s mama makes sure he’s ready. They meet the teachers. See the other children. Look at all the books and games. But then it’s time for Mama to leave. And suddenly Llama Llama isn’t so excited anymore. Will Mama Llama come back?
27. Too Much Glue
Although Matty’s art teacher has warned him that too much glue never dries, Matty loves glue. After all, he and his dad make oodles of glue projects at home. One day during art class, Matty finds the fullest bottles of glue, and the fun begins. With a squeeze and a plop, Matty pours a lake of glue before belly-flopping right in the middle and finds himself stuck to the desk. When Matty’s dad arrives at the school, instead of being mad, he celebrates his son’s creativity and calls him a work of art. With vibrant language and artwork and a wild, silly plot, Too Much Glue is sure to appeal to all children who love to get messy.
28. A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue
Josh the Tattler doesn’t have any friends. He tattles on his classmates, on his brother, and even on his dog! He tattles so much that he wakes up one night to find that his tongue is yellow, unusually long, and covered in bright purple spots! Will a bad case of Tattle Tongue teach him a lesson? A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue gives teachers and counselors a humorous, cleverly creative way to address the time-consuming tattling-related issues that often sap classroom energy and thwart teaching opportunities. Parents who “battle the tattle” at home, on the playground, in the grocery store, or anywhere else, can use this book to both entertain and enlighten their children about “The Tattle Rules.” Every adult that desires to help children understand the differences between unnecessary tattling and the necessity of warning others about important matters needs this book!
29. Interrupting Chicken
Now it’s the little red chicken’s turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end without his own kind of interrupting? Energetically illustrated with glowing colors—and offering humorous story-within-a-story views—this all-too-familiar tale is sure to amuse (and hold the attention of) spirited little chicks.
A favorite joke inspires this charming tale, in which a little chicken’s habit of interrupting bedtime stories is gleefully turned on its head.
30. The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others
Have you ever seen a bully in action and done nothing about it? The kids at Pete’s new school get involved, instead of being bystanders. When Pete begins to behave badly, his classmates teach him about “The Promise”. Will Pete decide to shed his bullying habits and make “The Promise”?
31. The Name Jar
The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.
32. Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business
Caps for Sale is a timeless classic, in print for over fifty years, and beloved by generations of readers. This easy-to-read story about a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and teaches children about problem and resolution. Children will delight in following the peddler’s efforts to outwit the monkeys and will ask to read it again and again. This is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors, perfect for early readers.
33. Press Here
Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!
34. Hands as Warm as Toast
Libby is just plain scared to start kindergarten! Even though Mom tries to reassure her, she is wiping away tears as they walk down the long hall to her classroom. Before Libby can make a dash for home, Miss Darling enlists Libby’s help to warm up her cold hands. Libby hangs on tightly but she notices that Miss Darling’s hands get warmer quicker as her kindergarten year progresses. This story about those scary first days at school reminds us how good it feels to find a warm hand to hold when we take a big step on our own.
It’s Okay to be Different
Featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes, this book embraces difference in a unique way. Deceptively simple in appearance, It’s OK to Be Different cleverly delivers its important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in a child-friendly package.
What is your favorite story back-to-school book to read in the classroom?
This is a GREAT list of books! I love First Day Jitters and Interrupting Chicken! I’ve never heard of Hands as Warm as Toast. That looks like a good one! Thanks for sharing!
Wow, thank you for compiling this wonderful list…and not just for this season, but all year! Jen 🙂
Lisa Himle, the author of Hands as Warm as Toast, is a good friend of mine. She teaches across the hall from me. She is just as nice as the teacher in the book! 🙂
Funky First Grade Fun