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Last year was Lu’s first year of kindergarten and I don’t know who was more nervous—me or her. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to come home until the weekend (no, we don’t send her to boarding school). I was worried about how well she’d relate to new teachers, make new friends and adjust to an all-day schedule.

It’s a feeling parents and kids are used to each fall as we start a new school year. But parents can help calm anxious kids by slipping in a few bedtime books that focus on all the fun that’s waiting for them in the new school year. Here are seven books that are on our back-to-school reading list.

Back to school kids books

Dad’s First Day

If you listened to Episode 10 of the Lu and Bean Read podcast, you already know about Dad’s First Day. Author/illustrator Mike Wohnoutka wrote this book about his own experience saying goodbye to his kids on their first day of kindergarten. Many kids feel less nervous when they feel like they’re in control, and this story of a young child encouraging his dad reminds kids that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Planet Kindergarten

The idea of kindergarten can seem pretty foreign to newbies—especially when it’s the first time they’ve spent an entire day away from home. In Planet Kindergarten, author Sue Ganz-Schmitt imagines school as a different planet and the students as astronauts (and a few aliens) exploring their new territory. The book reinforces the idea that new things don’t have to be scary—they can be a fun adventure.

Sophie’s Squash Go To School

Sophie’s Squash Go To School is author Pat Zietlow Miller’s follow-up to the first book in the Sophie’s Squash series (listen to Episode 8 of the Lu and Bean Read podcast to hear why author Tracey Kyle loves Sophie’s Squash). Sophie goes to school for the first time and brings her two best friends—a couple of butternut squash. She decides her squash are the only friends she needs—until they start to shrivel up. Sophie learns that making new friends may take time, but it will be worth it in the end.

The Name Jar

Moving to a new town and school was a very nerve-wracking for me as a child—and all I did was move from the city to a nearby suburb. Yansook Choi’s book the Name Jar offers this story of a young girl who immigrates from Korea . Afraid of revealing her given name, she goes nameless for a week while her new classmates suggest American names. In the end, her classmates learn and love her real name, reminding the reader that being yourself is always the best way to make new friends.

The Kissing Hand

Lu read this book, a gift from her Grandma Mary, every day leading up to her first day of kindergarten. In the Kissing Hand, a young raccoon is worried about being away from his mama as he begins night school, but a kiss on the hand reminds him that she’s always near to his heart. This classic book by Aubrey Penn is a tearjerker for parents, but it offers a wonderful lesson that temporary distance between parents and kids doesn’t diminish our love for one another.

Chu’s First Day of School

Did you know Neil Gaiman writes picture books, too? Younger kids will love his series about Chu, a panda cub that just can’t stop sneezing. And when Chu sneezes, it’s kind of a big deal. On Chu’s First Day of School, he has quite a surprise in store for his new classmates and teacher.

School’s First Day of School

Frederick Douglass Elementary School is feeling a little nervous. School is starting soon and Frederick Douglass Elementary School is new. What will the first day of school be like? School’s First Day of School by author Adam Rex and illustrator Christian Robinson walks through first day of school jitters from the school’s point of view as he learns from his janitor caretaker.

Good luck to parents and students as you head back to school! Let us know in the comments if we missed any back-to-school favorites from your collection.

7 back to school books

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