Tag Archives: Back to school books

Top 10 (okay, 14!) Back to School Picture Books for 2019


Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time to face the fact that summer is drawing to a close  and school is right around the corner.  Some of you, in fact, have already started teaching.  But there is an excitement that comes at this time of year – the anticipation of a new students to get to know and a new class community to build and nurture.  But while the start of school brings excitement for some, it can bring anxiety for others.  Sharing books about starting school and all that that entails is a wonderful way for making your students feel safe and connected. Here are my top new “back to school” picture books for sharing during “back to school”  week.

The Proudest Blue – Ibtihaj Muhammad

While it doesn’t appear to be by the cover, this is a powerful story about the first day of school that turns out to be so much more.  It is about rites of passage, the bonds of sisters, overcoming classmate cruelty and taunts, and the importance of culture and faith.  This book will be released on September 10th and I highly recommend it.  Gorgeous illustrations!   An important book to share about acceptance and pride in who you are.  (Great anchor for “Who Am I?” lessons from Powerful Understanding!)

Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School – Andy Robert Davies

You will have a lot of fun with this interactive book during the first week back.  Catchy rhymes and clear visual cues introduce young readers to the people they’ll encounter on their first day of school.  Perfect for Pre K – grade 1.

The School Book – Todd Parr

Todd Parr has done it again! With his signature bright, bold illustrations, “The School Book” is a must read for back to school this year. Positive and affirming step-by-step guide to a school day, from morning routines, to meeting new people, to learning and playing together. Love the way he weaves in a cheerful, child-friendly message of sharing, inclusion, and community. A perfect book for parents and teachers to read with any little one starting or returning to school.

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All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids starting and returning to school.    All children need to know they are welcome in their classrooms and feel a sense of belonging.  In rhythmic phrases, this story emphasizes the inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures.  The perfect book for the first week of school to promote a positive classroom and school community.

If I Built a School – Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a House is one of my go-to read-alouds to inspire imaginative writing so I was thrilled to see his new book about an imaginary school!  Told in a bouncy rhyming text, a boy describes all the fantastic and amazing things he would include if he was building his own school – money and reality no object!  Puppies and zoo animals would greet you at the door, students would have movable hover desks, every library book would come to life when you opened it, you’d race on submersible bikes in the school’s pool!   What fun!  A perfect anchor book for some inspiring back to school imagination pocket writing and art!

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten! – Lisa Robinson

Very sweet story about “Pirate Emma” transitioning from preschool to kindergarten and getting to know new classmates, a new classroom, a brand new teacher, and a new routine.  Packed with pirate language and lively illustrations, this story is a perfect “connect” book for any buccaneer that might not be feeling very brave when starting a new adventure.

Lola Goes to School – Anna McQuinn

A simple, comforting story about a little girl preparing for the first day of school.  While many similar books begin on the actual first day of school, I like how this one focuses on the preparation day before – choosing clothes, packing backpacks and lunches.   This one leaves you with such a positive, uplifting feeling that gently eases any worries young readers may be feeling about starting school.

Sorry, Grown-Ups!  You Can’t Go to School – Christina Geist

This book is an entertaining story with some reverse psychology intended to make kids want to go to school.   The role reversal outlines all the fun things that a child would be excited about – new backpacks (with secret pockets), playing games, reading on the cozy carpet, science experiments, and recess, all of which drive the adults nuts with longing!  Bright, playful illustrations. (the lack of diversity is my only criticism)  This book is fun and would certainly help to ease nerves as the school year begins.  

Butterflies on the First Day of School Annie Silverstro

Rosie is excited about the first day of school but then when the day actually arrives, she discovers she has “butterflies in her tummy.”   As the first day unfolds, each time Rosie opens up and talks to a new classmate or her teacher, butterflies – which only she can see – escape out of her mouth and fly into the sky.   As the butterflies fly out, Rosie’s confidence begins to grow, and new friendships and experiences are forged; she even finds the courage to help another shy little girl with butterflies of her own.  I love how this “butterfly” metaphor is developed into a clear analogy for kids – opening up to others to let the butterflies out.

The King of Kindergarten – Derrick Barnes

A gentle, joyful introduction to what to expect in a Kindergarten classroom and a sweet story about making friends, playing together, loving school, and putting positive energy into the world.  Such a lovely message in this one!   The artwork is stunning and the story is charming and uplifting.  Love this one!

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! – Mo Willems

Mo Willems is back with another pigeon book just in time for back to school! The Pigeon Has to Go to School is a laugh-out-loud hilarious story focusing on fears about going to school for the first time. Not preachy and a great ending. A perfect back to school read! LOVE this!

How To Read – Kwane Alexander

While not specifically about starting school, this ode to reading by the amazing team of Kwane Alexander and Melissa Sweet would make an excellent first week read-aloud.   I so loved the “how to” format filled gorgeous poetic language and literary techniques: “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, did your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”  Vibrant, collage illustrations but I did find the busy layout and embedded font sometimes difficult to follow on some pages.   Great for read-aloud and wonderful anchor book for writing similes, personification and imagery.

Back to School: A Global Journey – Maya Ajmera

I so love this beautiful, joy-filled book filled with stunning color photographs of children around the world studying, learning, exploring, and having fun together.  A perfect book for any lesson on global education and includes back notes and maps about each photograph.  Seeing children’s joy about school and learning is so inspiring!   I would pair this book up with The Way to School by Rosemary McCarney.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found on or two “Back to School” books that caught your eye!  Happy “New Year”, teacher friends!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Back to School, Connect, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday

Summer Reading – Day 27! It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! – Back to School Books

It’s Monday (actually it’s almost Tuesday!) and happy to be participating in IMWAYR once again!

After returning from a week at the lake, I’m feeling fall creeping into my horizon. And that means back to school for many of us. (I know some are already back!) So I thought I’d share some of my favorite “back to school” books to share with students during those first few days and weeks as we begin a new year together.  This list has some old favorites and some new titles that I’m excited to share for the first time.  In no particular order, here they are:


I am starting with a brand new book I am very excited about called Rufus Goes to School by Kim T. Griswell. Rufus is excited about going to school so he can learn how to read his favorite book (do you love this already?) But Rufus is a pig and “Pigs aren’t allowed in school!” says the principal.  This book combines the excitement of the first day of school with the desire of learning to read – a pretty great combination, don’t you think? This book is very interactive with lots of repeating phrases where kids can join in with the read-aloud.  If you are only going to buy one new back to school book this year – it should be this one!


First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg is a story about Sara who is nervous about starting her first day at a new school.  Her father is trying to help her get ready by making her breakfast, packing her lunch and driving her to school.  This book has delightful surprise ending that stimulates an important discussion around just who gets nervous on the first day of school.


I am a huge Mark Teague fan.  I can read and re-read his books and I laugh each and every time. How I Spent My Summer Vacation is no exception.  It is a hilarious account of a Wallace’s imaginative and elaborate account of his summer vacation.  A great writing anchor for the first week back – as kids enjoy writing their own imaginative and perhaps embellished tales of their recent summer!


One can never go wrong with a Todd Parr book.  Otto Goes to School is a simple story first published as a picture book and now available as an Level 1 reader, includes Todd’s trademark colorful block illustrations and a familiar character – “Otto”.   It is story of starting school and making friends that many will make connections to.


This School Year Will Be the Best! by Kay Winters is a wonderful interactive read-aloud.  At the beginning of the year, a class is asked what their hopes are for looking the coming school year.  The month-by-month answers are diverse, ranging from “meeting a new friend” to “having a chocolate fountain in the hallway”.  A great book to invite students to share their own hopes for the year.


Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten by Hyewon Yum is one of my latest finds.  At first glance, you may think it is a familiar story of a boy’s first day in Kindergarten.  But after a closer look at the illustrations, you realize that it is also a story of how parents experience the same fears and anxieties about this milestone of their child starting school.   This would make a perfect anchor book for inferring, and would also make a great gift for anyone whose child is starting school.


No back to school list of books would be complete without David Goes To School by David Shannon.  Most of you will know the David books but I never grow tired of the hilarious illustrations and the all the connections I make.   There is a “David” in every classroom and this book reminds me of just how much they need our understanding.


Back-to-School Rules by Laurie Friedman is another book that could anchor a writing activity: writing school rules.  These 10 rules, as told by Percy, head of the class, are written in the negative – what NOT to do – which makes for an amusing read-aloud.  The illustrations add to the humor.


How Will I Get to School this Year? by Jerry Pallotta explores the wild and imaginative ways you might get to school if your parents didn’t drive you or you didn’t take the school bus.  This is a fun and slightly silly book that I think kids would enjoy.  Maybe they could even think of their own wacky ways to travel to school!


Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre has a release date of September 1st and is definitely one to put on your radar.  I was fortunate enough to get an ARC and can tell you it is absolutely hilarious.  While it is not exactly a “back to school” story – it is a story of school supplies gone wild – namely the glue bottle!  The results are a hilarious sticky mess of  story that celebrates art and creativity. 9466024[1]

In Pete the Cat – Rocking in My School Shoes, laid-back Pete explores the different places in his school while rockin and groovin’ in his school shoes.  “It’s all good” when you have a Pete the Cat book in your collection!  Thanks, Eric Letwin, for this easy-going character that we all love!

And rounding out my list today is a poetry book collection, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  School Supplies includes poems by such greats as Carl Sandburg, Myra Cohn Livingston and Jane Yolen.  There are poems about paper clips, lunch bags, pencils and rulers.  My favorite is “The Eraser Poem” that actually starts to erase!  Great poems for reading aloud and bright illustrations for sharing.

Hope you found a few new titles for sharing to your students as you begin your school year.  Would love to hear about some of your favorites!

Thanks to Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers for starting this Monday book sharing!

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Picture Book, Poetry