The best children's books for back to school

Jessica Sinarski Author Of Riley the Brave Makes It to School: A Story with Tips and Tricks for Tough Transitions
By Jessica Sinarski

The Books I Picked & Why

I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids

By Gabi Garcia, Charity Russell

I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids

Why this book?

“I don’t always feel brave, confident, or strong. Sometimes it’s easier to follow others along...” are the first (very honest) words in this empowering picture book full of affirmations. We naturally pay more attention to negative messages, so it helps to have some truths you can repeat to yourself. It’s a brain thing! The genius of Garcia’s book is the short positive phrases throughout that are relatable for kids and adults alike. I also appreciate the varied cultures, races, religions, and abilities depicted in the representative illustrations. Great for any time of year, this book is a back-to-school must!


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The Pigeon Has to Go to School!

By Mo Willems

The Pigeon Has to Go to School!

Why this book?

Any child reluctant for heading back to school will love the playful energy of Mo Willem’s pigeon. Readers journey with the pigeon into relatable thoughts like, “What if I don’t like school?” and “What will the other birds think of me?” The theatrics make it a fun read-aloud, and the pigeon’s realizations throughout will help settle kids’ nerves. With delightful details from cover-to-cover, this is an easy choice for 4- to 7-year-olds.


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The Day You Begin

By Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López

The Day You Begin

Why this book?

This colorful book makes a wonderful back-to-school read to help all students feel welcome and important, regardless of how they spent their summer. Discussions of vacations, camp, and other excitement can leave some kids feeling left out. Woodson weaves emotion and joy into the experience that many children share: a summer spent at home with siblings. The words dance off the page thanks to the vivid illustrations. Great for first through third grade.


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A Family Is a Family Is a Family

By Sara O’Leary, Qin Leng

A Family Is a Family Is a Family

Why this book?

Many kids secretly fear the questions that come up at the beginning of the school year about their family. If you are living in foster care or have been going through something difficult in your home life, talking about family can be challenging. This playfully illustrated story helps create a safe space for all different kinds of families. Great for reading at home with your child or with the whole class to nurture a welcoming environment.


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The Magical Yet

By Angela DiTerlizzi, Lorena Alvarez

The Magical Yet

Why this book?

If you’re looking for a great way to introduce or continue the conversation about growth mindset, this book is delightful. I love that the character's problems don’t get solved in one attempt. My kids enjoyed the bright, whimsical illustrations and stayed engaged throughout (which is not always the case with books that are trying to teach something). Colombian artist Lorena Alvarez made the words come alive with her colorful magic.


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