As much as it’s hard to face – back to school is on the horizon. Many have enjoyed holidays, much anticipated travel, and time with family and friends this summer. Some may already be heading back to class soon, others have a few weeks left of summer bliss to enjoy. Whatever stage you are at shifting into school mode, it’s never too early or late to start exploring a few new “back to school books”. Starting school with a good collection of “back to school” themed books to share with your students during those first few weeks can really help spark important discussions and help to start building your class community. These books also are a great way to model and practice making connections to the range of feelings associated with heading back to school.
Here are my top 10 favorite new “back to school” books for 2022, along with a few old favorites! (And yes, I have trouble counting to ten!)
A book celebrating school not just as a building, but all that it signifies and represents: all the people who work and learn together, supporting each other to create a caring community. A perfect book to start the school year, to practice “Transform” (Knew-New connections!), but also one that would make a wonderful anchor book for writing about your special school!
NOTE: If you are a GearPicksPack subscriber, this book is included in your Fall box (Primary). For those who are subscribers, because many of these titles are ones you would want to share in the first days and weeks of school, no other books listed here are included in the fall GearPicks Packs as we don’t usually ship the first boxes until the end of September.
Lupe Lopez – Rock Star Rules – Pat Zietlow Miller
Super cute book about following class rules! Lupe is a spit-fire, drum loving Kindergartener who loves to drum on everything! But when she gets to school and discovers the “no drumming” rule, this little rock star is not ready to put down her drum sticks. Eventually she decides to listen to her teacher, and makes a few new friends along the way! Love the addition of Spanish words throughout this energetic story, reminiscent of Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse.
Mae’s First Day of School – Kate Berube
Mae refuses to go to school and makes up many reasons why she should not go. Upon entering the schoolground, she decides to avoid entering and climbs a tree. Another girl who is afraid to go in decides to join her in the tree. Then, the teacher, also afraid of the first day of school, climbs the tree, too! I love the humour, along with the connections kids will make about why Mae doesn’t want to go to school.
Hello World! – Kelly Corrigan
A young girl sets off with her dog to go explore the world to meet new people. She asks questions, connects to people, listens to their advice, and learns along the way. A perfect analogy for starting school and a great Reading Power anchor book for practicing asking questions!
That’s Not My Name – Anoosha Syed
I LOVE books about names and this new one is SUCH a wonderful addition to my collection. Mirha is so excited for her first day of school: she can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Such a great book about the importance of pronouncing people’s names correctly.
The Queen of Kindergarten – Derrick Barnes
A sweet companion to The King of Kindergarten (I think I might even like this one more!), this book follows MJ as she starts kindergarten. Lively, colorful and heartwarming and I LOVE that there is a focus on kindness and helping others. A must-have for your school library collection!
Blue Flower – Sonya Hartnett
I got a little teary reading this one! A perfect book for making connections to feelings of not fitting in, feeling different, making friends, and anxieties associated with starting school. I love the simple, small moments of self realization, perseverance, and resilience. Stunning illustrations. LOVE this one!
The Little Bear – Nicola Killen
I’m a fan of this author/illustrator, so was excited to see her new book! A very sweet story about a about a bear cub soothing a little girl’s fears about starting school. The story is sprinkled with a little magic and adorable illustrations. Would make a great read-aloud and perfect bed-time story.
First Day Critter Jitters – Jory John
This book came out a few years ago, but I only just discovered it, so thought I would include it. This is a true laugh-out-loud picture book about a group of animals who are all tense about the first day of school. The sloth worries about being late, the mouse about being too small, the kangaroo about leaving mom’s pouch, the parrot about too much repeating, and so on. The creatures are adorable and I love the message of reassurance of starting school mixed with humour. A PERFECT read-aloud for the first day of school!
Lunch From Home – Joshua David Stein
WOW! I’m so in love with this book! Such a great book to discuss the importance of culture and food. Four students are teased by “the sandwich kids” for bringing culturally-specific lunches to school. Readers follow each student as they learn to manage their first “lunch box moments”. Love how this book inspires everyone to stand up and be proud of their food and culture and encourages empathy and respect. This is a PERFECT new book to add to my Powerful Understanding “Others” book list!
Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness – Ben Clanton
Another delightful addition to the graphic novel series for beginning readers. In this story, Narwhal and Jelly become substitute teachers! They teach their “school of fish” some interesting subjects, including “Wafflematics”. Surprise bonus in this book are all the TRIPLE SCOOP WORDS! Every time a fish responds to a question, the other fish respond in synonyms! Sweet, silly and great for vocabulary building! Available in FRENCH.
A Letter from Your Teacher on the First Day of School – Shannon Olsen
This book came out last year but it is definitely worth a second mention. SO much to love about this heartfelt, honest letter from a teacher to her/his students. A perfect back to school book to highlight a teachers purpose and to help build a positive classroom community. The illustrations are beautiful and inclusive. This book is also now available in French.
Our Class is a Family – Shannon Olsen
By the same author as A Letter from Your Teacher, this is one of my favorite books for helping to build a positive class community at the start of a school year. In it, the teacher compares the class to different families both traditional and non-traditional and how, like their family at home, a family environment in a classroom means making sure everyone is accepted, cared for, and loved.
All Are Welcome – Alexander Penfold
Last, but certainly not least, you can’t have a “back to school” book list without including this one! This is one of the best books on diversity and inclusion you can find – and sends a warm message to all children that no matter who they are, what they wear, what language they speak, and what they eat for lunch – they are all welcome at school. A perfect back to school read aloud but an even better book for a principal to share at the “Welcome Back” assembly! There is even a SONG written from this book!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have discovered one or two new titles to add to your “back to school” book collection! Happy reading and sharing book joy with your class this year!