The most recommended first day of school books

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to first day of school, and here are their favorite first day of school books.
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Book cover of Gibberish

Josh Funk Author Of Dear Unicorn

From Josh's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Goof Coder Laugher Prankster

Josh's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Josh Funk Why did Josh love this book?

Gibberish is one of those brilliant picture books that couldn’t be made any other way.

The combination of words, symbols, and multiple art styles perfectly tells the story of an immigrant child’s acclimation to an English-speaking classroom. At first, the English words are all written in symbols, which read as gibberish, and those speaking them are depicted as old-timey cartoon characters.

As the child begins to understand, the symbols slowly transition to letters, and the characters gradually merge with the style of the rest of the book. It is so clever, so emotional, and so simple for even the youngest of us to understand.

By Young Vo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gibberish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

It's Dat's first day of school in a new country! Dat and his Mah made a long journey to get here, and Dat doesn't know the language. To Dat, everything everybody says - from the school bus driver to his new classmates - sounds like gibberish. How is Dat going to make new friends if they can't understand each other?
Luckily there's a friendly girl in Dat's class who knows that there are other ways to communicate, besides just talking. Could she help make sense of the gibberish?


Book cover of Mr. S: A First Day of School Book

Lee Edward Födi Author Of Spell Sweeper

From Lee's 5-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Dad Educator Traveler Maker of dragon eggs

Lee's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Lee's 5-year-old's favorite books.

Lee Edward Födi Why did Lee's 5-year-old love this book?

This book takes the concept of the first day of school and turns it into an imaginative and humorous romp.

From the under-the-flap and end-page artwork to the story within the story taking place through the classroom window, this book leaves nothing “on the table”—well, except the classroom teacher. Who is a sandwich? Yes, a sandwich.

By Monica Arnaldo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. S as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Prepare for plenty of giggles as a kindergarten class arrives for their first day of school, but can't find their teacher-only a delicious-looking sandwich and the words "Mr. S" scribbled on the chalkboard. Chaos ensues as the kids argue whether or not the sandwich must be their teacher. A comical, first day of school book of mayhem and chaos by Monica Arnaldo, perfect fans of Miss Nelson Is Missing.

"This might be the funniest first-day-of-school book I've ever read." -Adam Rex, New York Times bestselling author of School's First Day of School

It was the first day of school.

But…


Book cover of Twinkle

Bobbie Hinman Author Of The Sock Fairy

From my list on children’s books about fairies.

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?

Bobbie's book list on children’s books about fairies

Bobbie Hinman Why did Bobbie love this book?

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.

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. This book is for kids age 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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…


Book cover of Wemberly Worried

Carolyn Crimi Author Of There Might Be Lobsters

From my list on children overcoming fears.

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.

Carolyn's book list on children overcoming fears

Carolyn Crimi Why did Carolyn love this book?

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.

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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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!


Book cover of We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Leslie Kimmelman Author Of The Eight Knights of Hanukkah

From my list on more elusive than ever kindness.

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.  

Leslie's book list on more elusive than ever kindness

Leslie Kimmelman Why did Leslie love this book?

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!

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. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

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.


Book cover of I Got the School Spirit

Brigita Orel Author Of The Pirate Tree

From my list on new beginnings.

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.

Brigita's book list on new beginnings

Brigita Orel Why did Brigita love this book?

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!

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. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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


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

Jennifer E. Morris Author Of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

From my list on worried or anxious children.

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. 

Jennifer's book list on worried or anxious children

Jennifer E. Morris Why did Jennifer love this book?

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.

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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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?


Book cover of Planet Kindergarten

Nidhi Kamra Author Of Simon's Skin

From my list on space exploration.

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!

Nidhi's book list on space exploration

Nidhi Kamra Why did Nidhi love this book?

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.

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. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

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.


Book cover of The Pigeon Has to Go to School

Ethlie Ann Vare Author Of WOOF!

From my list on reads I wish were around when I was a kid.

Who am I?

I’m a Boomer. I was expected to read books about well-behaved children (Fun with Dick and Jane, 1940) or happy animals (The Poky Little Puppy, 1942), or going to bed quietly (Goodnight Moon, 1947). Why do you think my cohort has so much love for Dr. Seuss? The Cat in the Hat (1957) was a brat, and kids love a brat. The rhymes were smart, and kids need smart. Today, I get to read books to my grandkids that have edge, and books that don’t talk down to them. They deserve it, they won’t settle for less, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun for me.

Ethlie's book list on reads I wish were around when I was a kid

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did Ethlie love this book?

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus is the better known in this series of funny, adorably illustrated books, but I think Pigeon Has to Go to School really gets to the heart of why Pigeon is so beloved by kids: He embodies kid-ness.

He’s defiant and bratty and scared and anxious and excited and impatient and distractible and everything else that is lovable and crazy-making about your daughter/son/grandchild.

An easy read for young kids and fun to read to them.

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Pigeon Has to Go to School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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!?!


Book cover of Moses Goes to School

Mara Rockliff Author Of Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope

From my list on picture books about languages.

Who am I?

I am a children’s author best known for digging up fascinating, often funny stories about famous people—and forgotten people who deserve to be famous again. But only one of them inspired me to take up a whole new hobby: L. L. Zamenhof, creator of the international language Esperanto. Learning Esperanto turned out to be fun and easy. It helped me make friends all over the world, and got me interested in how language works.

Mara's book list on picture books about languages

Mara Rockliff Why did Mara love this book?

I haven’t seen a lot of picture books about children using American Sign Language (ASL), and I enjoyed the details of a day in a public school for the deaf and hard of hearing, although the book’s age (it came out in 2000) means the tech is somewhat out of date. While this book is not about Deaf culture, it does—like all the books on my list—give kid-friendly examples of the language it is introducing. I appreciated that the children are shown signing in ASL and not just fingerspelling English words, and that the author made some attempt to convey that ASL is its own language and that anyone who is fluent in both ASL and English is bilingual. Other titles in the series include Moses Goes to a Concert, Moses Goes to the Circus, and Moses Sees a Play. 

By Isaac Millman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moses Goes to School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A day at a school for the deaf is like a day at any school

Moses goes to a special school, a public school for the deaf. He and all of his classmates are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but that doesn't mean they don't have a lot to say to each other! They communicate in American Sign Language (ASL), using visual signs and facial expressions. Isaac Millman follows Moses through a school day, telling the story in pictures and written English, and in ASL, introducing hearing children to the signs for some of the key words and ideas. At the end…