15 Perfect Back-to-School Books!
15 Perfect Back-to-School Books!
Back-to-school can be an exciting time, but also one filled with uncertainty and big feelings. Books can be a perfect way to start conversations about all of the changes and the emotions that children may be feeling. From common school worries like being away from home or fitting in, to reintroducing important social emotional learning skills and personal hygiene, here are some of our favorite books to ease kids back to school. If you’re looking for the perfect read for back-to-school, we have you covered!
Big Feelings: School Worries, Separation Anxiety, and Fitting In
1. Donut Worry by Christianne Jones, illustrated by Jack Viant (K-2)
Poor Donut is feeling anxious. School is about to start again, and Donut can’t stop all sorts of worries from filling her round donut head. She’s tired of her friends and family saying, “Don’t worry!” As if it’s that easy! Can her new friend, Cookie, help her find ways to manage her anxiety?
2. Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Arthur Lin (PreK-1)
The story of a boy-and-dog duo who are BEST FRIENDS and who do EVERYTHING together! So how will they manage being apart when the boy heads to school for the first time? Find out how a clever boy with Down syndrome and his loyal pet find the perfect way to feel close even when they can’t be together. A sweet, inspiring story that will ease concerns about the first day of school and other big changes for kids.
3. First Day of Unicorn School by Jess Hernandez, illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum (K-2)
Milly is incredibly excited to go to Unicorn School, a school that accepts only the best and the brightest. There’s only one problem: she isn’t a unicorn! She’s a donkey in a party hat. Milly first feels uncomfortable but eventually learns that she and the others at the school have more in common than it might have seemed.
4. The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade, illustrated by Jennifer Davison (K-2)
Lance Cottonwood is the best and brightest of the leaves, but even the top students on the tree have worries. Can Lance conquer his fear of falling and just let go when the time comes for his final exam, or will he let his worries take over? In this funny and encouraging picture book, best-selling author Stef Wade tells an engaging story and deftly addresses social and emotional struggles many kids encounter each day: feeling anxious, wanting to be perfect, and facing fears.
5. Mindful Mr. Sloth by Katy Hudson (PreK-3)
Sasha has one speed—fast. She loves to do lots of things, all at once, as fast as possible. Mr. Sloth has one speed—slow. He loves to do things one at a time, at a nice, easy pace. Can Mr. Sloth’s mindful ways teach Sasha to slow down and enjoy life? Best-selling author Katy Hudson gently weaves a mindfulness theme into this unlikely friendship tale between an energetic girl and a sloth, encouraging children to stop, breathe, and be present in every moment.
Reintroducing Social Skills
6. Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne Jones, illustrated by Cale Atkinson (PreK-2)
Harrison P. Spader sat a little too close. Shook hands a little too long. High-fived a little too hard. And hugged a little too much. Harrison P. Spader was a personal space invader. But that all changes when he learns the Space Saver rhyme: Arms out front, then out real wide. Now place your arms back by your sides. Author Christianne Jones uses humor and relatable situations to teach early learners about self awareness.
Activity: Download social emotional learning bookmarks for your classroom.
7. The Social Butterfly by Beth Bracken, illustrated by Sofia Cardoso (PreK-2)
Charlotte loves her friends. She also loves talking, singing, and playing. What Charlotte doesn't love is sitting still, being quiet, and listening. Charlotte doesn't have time for that boring stuff! But Charlotte's social ways might just ruin her friendships. Find out if Charlotte can fix her overly social behavior in this relatable picture book.
8. Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Andy Elkerton (PreK-1)
Your dragon loves to hug and high-five, shake hands and sing, blow bubbles and share happiness everywhere she goes. Dragons want to spread joy to everyone! But some of those actions are also spreading germs. It’s time to wash your hands, mask up, and teach your dragon how to share joy in a safe and healthy way. Author Julie Gassman uses rhyming text, relatable examples, and a diverse cast of characters to teach kids about germs.
"Building" a Love of Reading
9. So You Want to Build a Library by Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by Aviel Basil (PreK-2)
There is no better place in the world than a library. Especially a library that kids create! A million stories high? Sure. Bathtubs? Absolutely. A full-service sundae bar? Of course. Everything is possible in this library—just like in books! Author Lindsay Leslie puts the reader in charge as the architect of a fantastical library in this imaginative picture book celebrating libraries and the joys of reading.
10. Cecilia's Fundraiser by Bryan Patrick Avery, illustrated by Arief Putra (K-2)
Mr. Grizley's class is hosting a fundraiser for the animal shelter. Cecilia is disappointed that she forgot the tamales she was going to sell. Can her classmates come to the rescue and help her make a new plan?
Each story in the early chapter book series Mr. Grizley's Class focuses on a different classmate and is especially designed to build social emotional learning skills, complete with a related activity at the end of each story. Read along to hang out with the best class around—Mr. Grizley’s Class! Also try Emily's Big Shot, Mordecai's Magic, and Shaw's Solo.
11. Astrid and Apollo In Concert by V.T. Bidania, illustrated by Evelt Yanait (K-2)
Astrid and Apollo are chosen to play a duet in the third-grade recorder concert. They practice hard for weeks, but their little sister keeps getting in the way. She wants to play too! Then, on the night of the concert, it’s one disaster after another. What’s going on? And will they still be able to perform? Readers will love joining the twins on their adventures in this chapter book series about a Hmong American family.
12. Sadiq and the Big Election by Siman Nuurali, illustrated by Christos Skaltsas (1-3)
Ms. Battersby has announced that Sadiq’s third-grade class will be having elections for student government! Everyone is buzzing with excitement, but Sadiq isn’t sure about any of it. Should he run for one of the positions? He does lots of research and gets good advice from his parents and siblings. Watching an inspiring speech finally helps him decide exactly what he wants to do. But when a good friend has the same idea, Sadiq questions his decision. Can friendships survive an election? Also try other titles from the Sadiq book series.
Activity: Watch the Sadiq book trailer.
13. Silly Jokes About School by Michael Dahl (K-3)
Why was the clock sent to the principal’s office?
For tocking too much in class.
Why was the math book sad?
It was full of problems!
Get ready to laugh from the cafeteria to the playground with these silly jokes about school! Featuring hilarious images; this collection of school jokes will have young readers laughing out loud.
Mysteries & Spooky Tales
14. The Scientific Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith, illustrated by Gloria Felix (K-2)
It’s a big week for Azaleah Lane. The principal, Ms. Li, is choosing a third grader to be the STEM lab monitor, and Azaleah’s name is the one picked! But the week doesn’t go quite as planned. First Azaleah gets paired up with a bossy classmate for a group project. Then the STEM lab guinea pig goes missing—on Azaleah’s watch! Can she use her scientific thinking and detective skills to get to the bottom of things before it’s too late? Or will Azaleah Lane go down as the worst STEM lab monitor ever? From the Azaleah Lane book series.
15. School Spirit by John Sazaklis, illustrated by Jesus Lopez (K-2)
Dawson wants to try out for the basketball team, but he gets bullied into being the mascot instead. And to make matters worse, the suit is possessed by a spooky spirit! Dawson decides to befriend the ghost and take school spirit to a new level in this early chapter book from the Boo Books series.