12 Books to Ease Back-to-School Jitters


Ready or not, back-to-school season is here. Like most kids, my boys get a little nervous before the big day and I’ve found we’ve been able to work through some of their feelings with the help of some great books. Here are our family’s favorite books to ease back-to-school jitters. What are your favorites?

1. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .

2. The Pigeon Has To Go To School

Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! And what if he doesn’t like it? What if the teacher doesn’t like him? What if he learns TOO MUCH!?!

3. The Day You Begin

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

4. First Day Jitters

Everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending.

5. Dancing Dinos Go To School

The dancing dinos are back, and this time, when their book turns up in a school library, they leap out and bring their musical mayhem to a kid’s classroom. This fun, rhyming Step 1 reader is perfect for back-to-school!

6. If You Take A Mouse to School

If you take a mouse to school, he’ll ask you for your lunch box. When you give him your lunch box, he’ll want a sandwich to go in it. Then he’ll need a notebook and some pencils. He’ll probably want to share your backpack, too.

7. Alexander at the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander is not having a great day. He has to endure gum in his hair, sitting in the middle of the backseat, third-best-friend status, no dessert at lunch, lima beans, railroad pajamas, and kissing on TV—all in one day! Maybe he’ll just move to Australia.

8. The King of Kindergarten

Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes’s empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-

Newton’s illustrations exude joy.

9. My Teacher is a Robot

An inventively funny picture book that celebrates the boundlessness of a child’s imagination and celebrates the teachers, families, and friends who get wrapped up in their fantastic worlds.

10. 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. 

11.Nugget and Fang Go to School

This reassuring first-day-of-school and friendship story is full of heart and humor, showing that everyone feels like a fish out of water sometimes, and that it’s important to be a good friend.

12. How Do Dinosaurs Go to School

A family favorite. This book explains how little dinosaurs should behave during a typical school day.

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  • Lily Wood

    Oh the kissing hand! A book that’s been passed down in my family for generations! It’s easily one of the best and gets all the kiddos feeling better. Can’t wait to hear about their first days!

  • Betsi Newbury

    I don’t have kids and it has been many moons since I was in elementary school, but some of these books sound awesome!

  • Cynthia

    Hi Gen! Sounds like they are good books. Wish I had a little one to read them with! My son is grown up now and I sure miss the days when we read together every night! Good luck with the first week of school!

  • Christine

    Our daycare provider just gave our daughter “We don’t eat our classmates” today as a gift (she’s starting K on Monday, so no more daycare). We read it tonight before bed and she loved it 🙂 She wants to bring it to school for her teacher to read. I think it’s become a new favorite here.

  • Carly

    Awe! One of my fav books when I was little was pigeon wants a puppy!

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