First-Day-of-School Books Help Kids Face Familiar Fears

Back-to-school time can mean big emotions for kids.

These picture books tell stories of first-day fears and feelings, whether children are starting preschool or kindergarten, entering a new grade, or moving to a new community.

The cover of the picture about How to Get Your Octopus to School, which features an orange Octopus holding school supplies

How to Get Your Octopus to School, by Becky Scharnhorst, illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett

Kids who are feeling nervous about school will relate to the stubborn little octopus in this book. Caregivers will appreciate the gentle reminders of morning routines during the school year. Everyone will laugh!

The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

Every child’s story is different. This colorful book encourages kids who feel left out or misunderstood at school to bravely embrace their stories and connect with others.

Watch Woodson read the book on the Netflix Jr. series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, available on YouTube.

The cover of the picture book The Day You Begin, which includes a young Black girl stepping through a school room door
The cover of the picture book Mr. S, which includes a sandwich with the baloney tongue and all of our eyes surrounded by a group of laughing children

Mr. S: A First Day of School Book, by Monica Arnaldo

Mr. S is late for school — or is he? An unconventional teacher and his creative students have a surprising first day in this hilarious book.

Geraldine, by Elizabeth Lilly

Lilly’s squiggly illustrations tell the story of Geraldine, who is distraught to discover she’s the only giraffe at her school until a new friend helps her find her voice.

The cover of the picture book Geraldine, which features a giraffe smiling at a swan
The cover of the picture book Llama Llama Misses Mama, which includes a llama snuggling a stuffed puppy and looking sadly out a window

Llama Llama Misses Mama, by Anna Dewdney

Help the littlest schoolkids prepare for the challenge of feeling homesick on the first day of preschool with this bouncy, rhyming book starring the iconic Llama Llama.