The best first day of school books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about first day of school and why they recommend each book.

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Planet Kindergarten

By Sue Ganz-Schmitt, Shane Prigmore (illustrator),

Book cover of Planet Kindergarten

In this brilliant book, the author draws parallels between the first day of kindergarten and a space mission – it turns out the two are not that different, after all. There are gravity issues in kindergarten as well, with kids trying hard to stay in their seats, and hands flying up. There’s the equivalent commander in the teacher, mission control in the principal, crewmates, experiments, and a flight plan! Peppered with space lingo, this charming book is double the reading pleasure, with its combined introduction to space and kindergarten. I am all set for kindergarten now. Can’t wait! Again, a great read for little humans.

Planet Kindergarten

By Sue Ganz-Schmitt, Shane Prigmore (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Planet Kindergarten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Suit up for a daring adventure as our hero navigates the unknown reaches and alien inhabitants of a planet called . . . Kindergarten. This clever book will prepare bold young explorers for their next mission-whether it's a strange, new world . . . or somewhere much closer to home.


Who am I?

Who doesn’t like space? I love learning about space! Tip: Picture books are easier to comprehend compared to graduate courses – there’s only so much of Newton-Euler dynamics, inertia tensors, eccentricity vectors, etc. one can handle. Plus, there are no nasty mind-boggling equations in picture books. I mean, do you really want to calculate the maximum flight path angle and the true anomaly at which it occurs? Or solve Kepler’s equations for hyperbolic eccentric anomaly? No, right? Always stick to the picture book if you have a choice! I mentioned some fun picture books (fiction and non-fiction) with amusing or complementing illustrations that helped me on my journey to understanding space. Enjoy!


I wrote...

Simon's Skin

By Nidhi Kamra, Diane Brown (illustrator),

Book cover of Simon's Skin

What is my book about?

Simon thinks his skin is bo-rring. Simon doesn't like boring. So, he tries on different skins, and to his surprise, each comes with its own challenge. Simon soon makes a pleasant discovery about his own skin. This book is about a little boy who discovers he is perfect the way he is.

Twinkle

By Katharine Holabird, Sarah Warburton (illustrator),

Book cover of Twinkle

Young readers love books with bright colors and fanciful characters. They enjoy stories that are easy to understand, yet have an interesting plot. Katherine Holabird’s series, Twinkle, has it all. Twinkle is a feisty little fairy, impeccably illustrated, and lovable at first sight. In each book in the series, Twinkle solves a different troublesome issue, such as making it through her first day at fairy school, trying to remember her spells, and dealing with her new pet dragon. The vibrant illustrations add even more enjoyment to the stories. 

In addition to the Twinkle picture books, slightly older fairy-loving children will be delighted with the leveled readers that feature further adventures of the mischievous little fairy named Twinkle.

Twinkle

By Katharine Holabird, Sarah Warburton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Twinkle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the global success Angelina Ballerina comes the third book in this brand new series for all those who love fairies, friendship and pink!

Fairy Godmother gives Twinkle and her friends a pet each - and Twinkle gets a dragon! Scruffy is boisterous, greedy and full of energy. Twinkle knows that he will be the naughtiest pet at the Fairy Pet Day. But she loves him anyway and Scruffy proves that he can be a good dragon, if he really wants to be!

Illustrated by the bestselling illustrator of Dinosaurs in the Supermarket, Sarah Warburton and Katherine…


Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by fairies. I remember watching dragonflies in my backyard, convinced that they carried fairies on their backs. I hung pictures of fairies on my bedroom walls. I even moved my dollhouse furniture outside and set it up under a tree so the fairies would be comfy. This wasn’t as farfetched as it sounds when you consider that I grew up before the digital age and was always encouraged to use my imagination. When the movie Peter Pan was released, I fell in love with Tinkerbell. I’m convinced that all of this prepared me to become the writer of a series of fairy books. Who knew?


I wrote...

The Sock Fairy: A Humorous and Magical Explanation for Missing Socks

By Bobbie Hinman, Kristi Bridgeman (illustrator),

Book cover of The Sock Fairy: A Humorous and Magical Explanation for Missing Socks

What is my book about?

Most people think that all fairies are girls. Not so! The Sock Fairy is a mischievous little boy fairy, and everyone knows him. He sneaks into houses late at night and simply takes a few socks, then leaves just before daylight. Now you know who to blame! It’s not the dryer! 

Each of the books in my fairy series blames something on a fairy. Some of my fairies are girls, others are boys. One is even a grandmother! Many books have been written about fairies. Most of the older stories (from the 1800s) were written for adults, and are a bit scary. I prefer the fairies who are lively, mischievous—and friendly. Fairies appeal to children of all ages. The books I have selected are among my favorites.

Lena's Shoes Are Nervous

By Keith Calabrese, Juana Medina (illustrator),

Book cover of Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma

Lena isn’t worried about the first day of kindergarten - but her shoes are. In this clever story we see various parts of Lena’s wardrobe taking on various personalities, possibly mirroring parts of Lena’s own personality. Her outgoing blue dress is ready for a new adventure, her friendly headband wants everyone to work together, of course, her fearful footwear wants to stay home. But when Lena threatens to wear her slippers to school, will her shoes muster the courage to march forward? A creative and witty book about facing your fears.

Lena's Shoes Are Nervous

By Keith Calabrese, Juana Medina (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lena's Shoes Are Nervous as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of School’s First Day of School, debut author Keith Calabrese and Pura Belpré Award winner Juana Medina share a sweet, universal story about a clever little girl whose shoes are nervous about the first day of school.

Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem…

Lena’s shoes are nervous.

Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?


Who am I?

I am a children’s book creator and a parent. Raising an anxious child can be challenging. Events that many children find fun and exciting can be overwhelming and scary for your child. Seemingly small changes in their daily routine can throw some youngsters into a swirl of emotions that is upsetting to them and to those who love them. When I was searching for picture books to help the young worrier in my life, I looked for books that acknowledged their distressing feelings while giving them some strategies with which to cope with their overwhelming emotions. That premise became the theme of my Maud the Koala book series. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

What is my book about?

Maud the Koala is excited. Today is her birthday and she is getting ready for her big party, after all, big birthdays are the best birthdays. Right? But Maud’s mother has some concerns when she discovers Maud invited 56 children to her backyard celebration. As the crowd builds, Maud starts feeling dizzy and slips behind a bush to find some peace and quiet. In the shrubbery, she finds Simon who is also overwhelmed by the hubbub. Slowly Maud and Simon reengage with the party at their own pace. Socially anxious children will relate to Maud and Simon as they realize big crowds aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Suki's Kimono

By Chieri Uegaki, Stéphane Jorisch (illustrator),

Book cover of Suki's Kimono

Suki is a treasure. She’s courageous and irrepressible and a perfect role model for every young girl of any nationality. Suki decides to wear a kimono to school on her first day of first grade. The kimono, a gift from her grandmother, is full of warm memories. As you can imagine, some of the other kids initially laugh at her—including her own sisters. But in the end, she wins her classmates over with an impromptu dance that captures the joy of a summer festival with her grandmother. I love how this spirited story teaches kids of any culture to embrace who they are. Stephane Jorisch’s playful watercolor and ink illustrations capture the spirit of the book perfectly.

Suki's Kimono

By Chieri Uegaki, Stéphane Jorisch (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Suki's Kimono as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Suki's favorite possession is her blue cotton kimono. A gift from her obachan, it holds special memories of her grandmother's visit last summer. And Suki is going to wear it on her first day back to school --- no matter what anyone says.When it's Suki's turn to share with her classmates what she did during the summer, she tells them about the street festival she attended with her obachan and the circle dance that they took part in. In fact, she gets so carried away reminiscing that she's soon humming the music and dancing away, much to the delight of…


Who am I?

My dad was an adventure traveler, so I floated down the Amazon, rode chicken busses in rural Guatemala, and stepped on the Russian Steppes before I ever saw Big Ben. All that adventure as a kid engendered an insatiable curiosity about the amazing diversity of people and cultures in this world. Sadly, when I was growing up, most children’s books didn’t reflect this diversity. Not only should all children be able to see themselves on the pages of the books they read, it’s equally important that kids see children who aren’t just like they are. Consequently, adding cultural and ethnic diversity into kids' lit has become a passion for me. 


I wrote...

Mystery of the Thief in the Night: Mexico 1

By Janelle Diller, Adam Turner (illustrator),

Book cover of Mystery of the Thief in the Night: Mexico 1

What is my book about?

Izzy’s family sails into a quiet lagoon in Mexico and drops anchor. Izzy can’t wait to explore the pretty little village, eat yummy tacos, and practice her Spanish. When she meets nine-year-old Patti, Izzy’s thrilled. Now she can do all that and have a new friend to play with too. Life is perfect. At least it’s perfect until they realize there’s a midnight thief on the loose!

This award-winning early chapter book series takes young readers around the world. They tour haunted castles in Austria, catch thieves in Mexico, save dolphins and turtles in Brazil, search for lost golden temples in Thailand, and chase aliens in Australia. Ultimately, the series inspires readers to embrace adventure and triggers curiosity about the larger world.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates

By Ryan T. Higgins,

Book cover of We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Yes, kindness is essential. But it’s even better when served up with a huge side serving of humor.  A young T-rex named Penelope can’t understand why she’s unable to make friends. Perhaps if she didn’t find them so delicious, it would be easier.  The author takes a universal situation—going off to school for the first time—and turns it into a hilarious lesson (and I hesitate to even use that word) about kindness and empathy. It’s all done with an economy of word and a deadpan tone. Pitch perfect!

We Don't Eat Our Classmates

By Ryan T. Higgins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Don't Eat Our Classmates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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. . . . Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.


Who am I?

I am no expert on kindness—though more than twenty years at Sesame Workshop, working on a TV show that focuses on kindness, may give me a slight edge. And I am not unfailingly kind, though I try my hardest. But I am passionate about nurturing this quality in children. At the risk of sounding naive, I feel that it’s our last best hope of solving some of the world’s biggest problems.  


I wrote...

The Eight Knights of Hanukkah

By Leslie Kimmelman, Galia Bernstein (illustrator),

Book cover of The Eight Knights of Hanukkah

What is my book about?

It’s a Hanukkah story, of course! But it’s also about the importance of putting kindnesses out into the world, both spectacular brave deeds and those of the smaller, barely noticed variety. The book tells the story of eight knights who, at the request of their mother, the Lady Sadie, ride out into the countryside to perform acts of “awesome kindness and stupendous bravery.” All this while seeking out the ferocious dragon who’s getting in the way of the last-night-of-Hanukkah party scheduled at the castle that evening.  Gadzooks! What are eight knights to doeth?!

I Got the School Spirit

By Connie Schofield-Morrison, Frank Morrison (illustrator),

Book cover of I Got the School Spirit

This picture book gives off such a positive feeling that it’s impossible not to let it fill you to the brim with excitement and joy. It’s perfect to read with children at the end of the holidays for a gentle but enthusiastic introduction to the new school year. It made me want to go back to school!

I Got the School Spirit

By Connie Schofield-Morrison, Frank Morrison (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Got the School Spirit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This exuberant celebration of the first day of school illustrated by award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison will have every kid cheering for school to begin!

Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! She hears the school spirit in the bus driving up the street--VROOM, VROOM!--and in the bell sounding in the halls--RING-A-DING! She sings the school spirit in class with her friends--ABC, 123!

The school spirit helps us all strive and grow. What will you learn today?

Don't miss these other exuberant titles:
I Got the Rhythm
I Got the Christmas Spirit


Who am I?

When I first started writing in English, which is my second language, I was reluctant to share my work with others. I was terrified they would find it lacking. It takes a lot of effort and research to write authentically for a foreign audience. I studied creative writing at different universities around the world to gain knowledge and experience. I published short stories and poems in online and print journals. Bit by bit, I gathered the courage to submit my first picture book manuscript.


I wrote...

The Pirate Tree

By Brigita Orel, Jennie Poh (illustrator),

Book cover of The Pirate Tree

What is my book about?

The gnarled tree on the hill sometimes turns into a pirate ship. A rope serves as an anchor, a sheet as a sail, and Sam is its fearless captain. But one day another sailor approaches, and he’s not from Sam’s street. Can they find something more precious than diamonds and gold? Can they find…friendship?

Book cover of The Pigeon Has to Go to School!

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.

The Pigeon Has to Go to School!

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pigeon Has to Go to School! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mo Willems' Pigeon is BACK in a hilarious story perfect for those about to start school or nursery.

"There is no such thing as a bad Mo Willems book" The Times

The Pigeon is about to get SCHOOLED. Do YOU think he should go?

Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! Well ... almost everything. And what if he doesn't like it? What if the teacher doesn't like him? I mean, what if he learns TOO MUCH!?!


Who am I?

My super-power is making brain science accessible and entertaining for children and adults alike. I am living this out as an author, mental health counselor, and the founder of BraveBrains. In addition to training parents and professionals, I have the joy of sharing my passion and expertise through podcast appearances, blogs, and articles. The lightbulb moments are my favorite, and I'm committed to helping people bring what they learn back home in practical ways. I write picture books because the magic of reading and re-reading stories light up the brain in a powerful way. But don’t worry…I always include some goodies for the adults in the back of the book.


I wrote...

Riley the Brave Makes It to School: A Story with Tips and Tricks for Tough Transitions

By Jessica Sinarski, Zachary Kline (illustrator),

Book cover of Riley the Brave Makes It to School: A Story with Tips and Tricks for Tough Transitions

What is my book about?

Making it to school is tough at the best of times! Riley Bear and his elephant parents share a peek into a grumpy morning. When big feelings threaten to ruin the day, this brightly illustrated story will help families find their way through. 

The educational afterword features tips and tricks for tough transitions, a treasure trove for parents, teachers, and other caring adults.

Wemberly Worried

By Kevin Henkes,

Book cover of Wemberly Worried

Anxiety is a tricky thing, and Wemberly Worried illustrates all its various peculiarities. For instance, Wemberly, a world-class worrier, worries that there will be too many butterflies in the neighborhood parade. But then, when it turns out she’s the only butterfly in the neighborhood parade, she worries about that. The only thing that seems to steady her nerves is her adorable toy rabbit, Petal. When Wemberly shows up on her first day of school, her worries lessen when she meets another little girl mouse who has a toy just like Petal. 

While Wemberly is a mouse, this story is very relatable for little boy and girl worriers everywhere. It’s absolutely perfect for those first day of school jitters.

Wemberly Worried

By Kevin Henkes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wemberly Worried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A back-to-school favorite 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!


Who am I?

I love this letter that I received from a child reader: Ahoy Ms. Crimi! Your book Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates made me think of myself because the character Henry is really shy and cowardly, kind of like me sometimes. But I put all that aside and come around in the most sincere moments. Like this young reader, I, too, have my cowardly moments. I was definitely Piglet in Winnie the Pooh! Perhaps this is why so many of my books involve fearful characters. It’s a character trait that I relate to all too easily. Writing about my fears gives me some insight to them and, hopefully, it helps my readers as well.


I wrote...

There Might Be Lobsters

By Carolyn Crimi, Laurel Molk (illustrator),

Book cover of There Might Be Lobsters

What is my book about?

Suki is a very small dog who is afraid of pretty much everything at the beach—waves, beach balls, lifeguards, and, of course, lobsters. But when Suki’s very best toy, Chunka Munka, starts floating out to sea, Suki must act bravely and quickly in order to save him.

I got the idea for this book from my own small and fearful dog, Emerson. I took him to the dog beach in town every afternoon until one day a three-inch-tall wave knocked him over. He never liked the beach after that. The only thing he would do is sit in a stranger’s lap, so I figured he could easily just sit in my lap at home without having to pay for the dog beach.

It's Not a School Bus, It's a Pirate Ship

By Mickey Rapkin, Teresa Martínez (illustrator),

Book cover of It's Not a School Bus, It's a Pirate Ship

When a little boy boards the school bus for the very first time, he’s terrified—until the bus driver whispers, “This isn’t a school bus, it’s a pirate ship!” I think it’s terrific when stories sweep readers in and invite them to use their imagination. Equally terrific is the way the characters join together to turn first-day jitters into a journey on the high seas. Illustrations, cleverly inspired by children’s artwork (which I love!), are the perfect partner for this kid-centric story

It's Not a School Bus, It's a Pirate Ship

By Mickey Rapkin, Teresa Martínez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Not a School Bus, It's a Pirate Ship as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this follow-up to It's Not a Bed, It's a Time Machine, a young boy is worried about the bus ride to his first day of school. Who will he sit with on the bus? How will he make friends?

The bus driver knows the first day of school is intimidating, and she has a secret to share: This is not a school bus - it's a pirate ship! And its pirate crew has one motto: "All for fun and fun for all!"

The boy sets sail with his classmates on an epic adventure - making new friends and vanquishing…


Who am I?

I’m the author of funny-bone tickling and heartwarming picture books, Halloween Hustle and Prince and Pirate. My newest book, Dream Submarine, is a lyrical bedtime story that blends fiction and nonfiction and invites young readers on a journey through the world's oceans (Candlewick, 2024). Language Arts teacher turned writer, I'm passionate about literacy and love visiting schools and libraries to connect with my favorite people—kids!  My books and all the perfectly piratey tales on this list are best when read aloud!


I wrote...

Prince and Pirate

By Charlotte Gunnufson, Mike Lowery (illustrator),

Book cover of Prince and Pirate

What is my book about?

Shiver me tailfin! When two little fish with big personalities have to share the same tank, there are rough seas ahead! Snooty Prince is horrified to find this cheeky cod trespassing in his kingdom. Rowdy Pirate is sure this royal hiney has come to plunder his treasure. 

The battle royale seems doomed to end in a scurvy stalemate—until a sweet surprise convinces them to find a way to get along. In its starred review, Kirkus praises the book for its humor, heart, sitcom silliness, and storytime potential.

The Proudest Blue

By Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Ali, Hatem Aly (illustrator)

Book cover of The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family

I don’t think there is enough representation in children’s books for different religions and cultures. This book celebrates the hijab and its cultural significance and is an inspiring story of love and acceptance. I’ve not seen many other books like this one, so it’s important to champion books that showcase underrepresented groups. The illustrations are fantastic and accentuate the story, and the color blue serves as a beautiful theme that runs throughout the book. My favorite color is blue as well, so perhaps that is also why I have a soft spot for this book.

The Proudest Blue

By Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Ali, Hatem Aly (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Proudest Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF 2019!
'A ground-breaking picture book about religion, sisterhood and identity' Waterstones Best Picture Books of 2020
Asiya's hijab is like the ocean and the sky, no line between them, saying hello with a loud wave.
It's Faizah's first day of school, and her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab - made of a beautiful blue fabric. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful. In the face of hurtful, confusing words, will Faizah find new ways to be strong?
This is an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the…


Who am I?

I’m a British author who specializes in writing about diversity and inclusion. I’ve always been a firm believer in equality for all, and I think diversity is such a vital subject for children to learn. It’s so important to teach children to love themselves and treat others how they would want to be treated, even if they are different than you. I believe a little bit of love goes a long way. I hope you enjoy my list of children’s books about diversity and share in my passion for children’s books that champion love and acceptance for everyone.


I wrote...

Family Means...

By Matthew Ralph,

Book cover of Family Means...

What is my book about?

Family Means… is a charming and heartwarming children’s picture book about family, diversity, inclusion, and the joy of everyday life. Every family is special, and this book celebrates all forms of living together: no one is left out. The types of families represented include nuclear/traditional families, adoption families, blended families, multiracial families, stepfamilies, single-parent families as well as LGBT families.

Each page starts with the words Family means… and shows different types of families in various everyday situations.

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