Book Corner: Books to Help with Back-to-School Jitters

It’s back-to-school time: school shopping, school lunches, school routines. Some children look forward to school starting, some really dread it, and many fall somewhere in between. Whatever your child’s feelings about the start of a new school year, sharing stories about school can help with the transition.

The Best Seat in Kindergarten by Katharine Kenah, illustrated by Abby Carter
Sam is very nervous about his first day of kindergarten. He doesn’t know anyone, and he doesn’t know where to sit. But as the day goes on, he makes it a point to help the other children in his class, and, by the end of the day, he is surrounded by new friends.

Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Dream Chen
For weeks, Rosie has been excited about school starting. But the night before the first day, she can’t sleep and wakes up feeling nervous. Her dad tells her it is just butterflies and helps her get ready. As Rosie meets new friends, finds out how nice her teacher is, and enjoys art time and recess, Rosie’s butterflies gradually go away. And, when she sees another girl by herself at recess, Rosie knows she can help this girl with her butterflies, too. 

First Day Critter Jitters by Jory John, illustrated by Liz Climo
A group of students is very worried about the first day of school. Sloth is worried about being late, snake has no arms to carry a backpack, mouse is intimidated by all the larger classmates, and mole is worried about not being able to see the board. When their teacher arrives, the students are surprised to find out he is just as nervous as they are, and they work through their worries together.

How to Spot A Best Friend by Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Lucy Fleming
When a little girl announces on the first day of school that she will find a best friend, her mother reminds her it might take a while. The girl disagrees, saying she will be able to identify a best friend right away and lists off how you can tell if someone will be a friend: they lend you crayons, sit next to you at story time, help you build with blocks, and invite you to join their games. The little girl then tells her mom the best way to spot a friend: to be a friend yourself.

Little Critter Goes to School by Mercer Mayer
It’s Little Critter’s first day of school. He’s got new clothes, new school supplies, and a treat for the teacher. Little Critter chronicles his first day of school—the fun things like singing and playing outside and the hard things like not knowing everyone. By the end of the day, he is excitedly looking forward to the next day, planning what he will bring for show-and-tell.

Raj's Rule (for the Bathroom at School) by Lana Button, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Raj has one rule: never use the bathroom at school. This makes his days very difficult. He can’t really enjoy his lunch and can’t really enjoy playing outside. Thinking about strategies to keep him out of the bathroom distracts him from classroom activities. When an unexpected sneeze requires him to break his rule, he realizes how much more enjoyable school is when he isn’t worrying about having to use the bathroom.

A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Wendy Leach
As small kindnesses are passed from child to child, their worried faces light up with a smile. It doesn’t take much: saying “hello,” listening, holding a door open. These small kindnesses make a big difference.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.