Back to school picture books

Back to school picture books

It’s a time full of excitement, anticipation, worries, and possibly complete dread as summer comes to an end and kids head back to school. Children who are just starting school may have a lot of anxiety, but reading about school can help familiarise the experience for them and make it less terrifying. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to talk with your child about what they look forward to and what they worry about, so that you can address their concerns now. 

We’ve picked out some of the best books for starting school or nursery to make sure your child knows it’s normal to worry, but also that it can be a lot of fun!


Book cover of First Day at Bug School. It shows a bee teacher instructing a class of different types of bugs.
First Day at Bug School by Sam Lloyd – a fun, rhyming text that looks at all the parts of the school day, from being dropped off to classes, play time, and going home. It’s ideal for introducing a child to what their day might include. And the bright illustrations are full of playful details. If you like this one, you can also check out First Day at Skeleton School.  


Book cover of Mae's First Day of School. Mae is standing on a path under a tree, outside a school, and she looks very worried.

Mae’s First Day of School by Kate Berube – Mae has decided she is NOT going to school. It’s scary and there are so many things that could go wrong. So she decides not to go in the building and hide up a tree, until two friends come along and show her she’s not the only one who has fears to face. A relatable story about common worries on the first day of school.


Bok cover of The Boy who Loved Everyone. It shows four children feeding some birds.

The Boy who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter and Maisie Paradise Shearring – a boy tells everyone and everything he loves them, but no one ever says it back to him. Soon he learns how love is shown in many different ways. A wonderful book for encouraging empathy and kindness.


 Book cover of The Day You Begin. It shows a Black girl walking into a room tentatively.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López – a poetic celebration of being different, and how there will be others who will share in those difference, even if only a little. This book aims to address those fears of entering a space where you don’t know a single person, and recognise just how brave that is.


 Book cover of What Does the Crocodile Say? A parent crocodile is holding a little crocodile, who looks like it it shouting and there are toys on the ground.

What Does the Crocodile Say? By Eva Montanari – in this simple book, younger readers are introduced to the first day of nursery through all the different noises a little crocodile hears. Perfect for younger readers, who will enjoy putting all the noises in this book to use as they go about their day as well.


Book cover of We Don't Eat our Classmates. A dinosaur is standing looking guilty, as a shoelace is dangling out of its mouth and the classroom looking in disarray.

We Don’t Eat our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins – it’s hard for any child starting school, but particularly difficult when you want to make friends yet find your classmates so delicious. However, it doesn’t take long for this little dinosaur to learn her lesson. 


Book cover of All Are Welcome, which shows a diverse group of twelve children standing in two lines, holding hands.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman – this book follows a diverse group of children through a day at school. It’s ideal for showing children an inclusive community where everyone has a place and can learn from each other’s traditions.


Book cover of Hello, Friend! A girl is holding out a doll to a boy, and the boy is completely surrounded in dolls looking upset.

Hello, Friend by Rebecca Cobb – a little girl is determined to befriend a shy boy, but some of her planned activities are a little overwhelming for him. This book about making friends is also perfect for talking about emotions that occur with starting nursery.


Book cover of School's First Day of School, which shows a collection of buildings and the school in the middle, with people gathered outside of it.

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson – we usually have stories about children being nervous for their first day, but what about the school itself? From worrying if the children will like it to what it should do once the children arrive, the school has many similar concerns that any child would.

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