Back-to-school books

By Shannon Dean

Get kids ready for back to school with these books to help them get excited about learning, deal with those first-day jitters, and laugh a little too.

For Preschool and Elementary Students

Back-to-School Rules

Written by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Teresa Murfin

This cute, beautifully illustrated story offers tips on what not to do when starting a new school year, like not showing up late, not being impolite, and not forgetting to have fun.

How to Get Your Teacher Ready

Written by Jean Regan and illustrated by Lee Wildish

This colorful book depicts students helping their new teacher understand classroom expectations. It also describes exciting events like field trips, class plays, and scientific experiments to show students that school can be fun.

Dear Teacher

By Amy Husband

Michael is reluctant to start a new school year, so he writes his teacher explaining that he is busy with important matters like going to the moon in a rocket ship and visiting Egyptian pyramids. When his teacher writes back and outlines all of the exciting activities she’s planned, Michael ponders how much fun he may miss.

This School Year Will Be the Best!

Written by Kay Winters and illustrated by Renee Andriani

On the first day of school, the teacher asks students what they’d most like to happen during the upcoming year. While some kids mention relatable, familiar goals, others wish for unique and funny experiences. This book is great for inspiring readers to set goals.

I Am Not Going to School Today!

Written by Robie Harris and illustrated by Jan Ormerod

A young boy shares his worries about school with his parents who patiently address his concerns. His teacher reinforces these reassurances so that by day's end, all of his fears are put to rest.

The Recess Queen

Written by Robbie H. Harris and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Schoolyard bully “Mean Jean” is transformed by the new kid in class in a unique story that highlights the power of kindness and the necessity of friendship. The sing-song rhyming text and colorful illustrations make this book a fun introduction to an important topic.

It’s Back to School We Go!: First Day Stories From Around the World

Written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis

This book follows 11 children from different countries as they experience the first day of the school year. Although the children’s experiences are diverse, this book shows that most kids have similar worries and joys.

For Middle School Students

The Secret Combination to Middle School; Real Advice from Real Kids, Ideas for Success, and Much More!

Written by Marrae Kimball

The author polled actual students about their experiences after moving from elementary to middle school. These questionnaires (and their answers) are included to reassure kids that they are not unique in their concerns. The book also shares student tips on recurring, but solvable issues that middle schoolers face.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School

Written by David Borgenicht, Ben Winters and Robin Epstein, and illustrated by Chuck Gonzales

Though quite funny, this book includes serious tips for new, tricky situations such as dressing out in PE, dealing with cliquey friendships, and juggling high-pressure academics.

For High School Students

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Written by Sean Covey

Although this book is appropriate for all teens, it is popular with students in high school, since it covers topics like building self-image, resisting peer pressure, setting academic and personal goals, and navigating cyberbullying.


The Day the Crayons Quit

By Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best? (Philomel; 1st edition, June 27, 2013)

Ages: 3-7

The Back-to-School Fright from
the Black Lagoon

By Mike Thaler; illustrated by Jared Lee

Summer vacation is over and that means one thing - back to school. For Hubie, getting ready to go back is worse than actually going to class. His mom picks out all the wrong clothes, he gets back-to-back shots from his doctor, and there are rumors of a new teacher worse than any other. Will Hubie fail before school even starts? (Scholastic Inc., April 29, 2014)

Ages: 7-10

The Survival Guide for School Success: Use Your Brain’s Built-In Apps to Sharpen Attention, Battle Boredom, and Build Mental Muscle

By Ron Shumsky, Psy. D., Susan M. Islascox, M.A.,
and Rob Bell, M.Ed.

From struggling students to academic all-stars, everyone can do better in school. Research shows that executive functions such as focus and organization are more valuable to school performance than intelligence or talent. Fortunately, these functions are skills, so students can learn them. Featuring plenty of examples, practice assignments and a playful tone, this book can provide an academic boost to any student. (Free Spirit Publishing; The Free Spirit Survival Guides for Kids edition, Sept. 15, 2014)

Ages: 10-14

You’re Wearing THAT to School?!

By Lynn Plourde; illustrated by Sue Cornelison

Penelope is so excited about the first day of school that she’s doing her happy hippo dance. She can’t wait to wear her rainbow sparkle outfit, bring her favorite stuffed toy for show-and-tell, and share a big picnic lunch with all her new friends. “Oh, no, no!” says her best pal Tiny, who started school last year. He has a few tips for Penelope about fitting in without sticking out. The two friends’ very different ways of handling peer opinion create hilarious scenes that will erase any anxiety before the first day of school. (Disney-Hyperion, June 25, 2013)

Ages: 4-8

Oliver and his Alligator

By Paul Schmid

Oliver is nervous about the first day of school, so he picks up an alligator at the swamp, just in case. And boy, does it come in handy! Whenever anything scares Oliver – be it a teacher, a classmate, or the prospect of learning everything - the alligator makes the problem go away. Quickly, school becomes much simpler... and a little lonely. But Oliver knows just what to do! (Disney-Hyperion, June 25, 2013)

Ages: 3-5

Prairie Evers

By Ellen Airgood

Having been homeschooled, Praire Evers learned the most about life and behavior from traipsing through nature. But now she has to attend public school, and feels just like her chickens – cooped up and subject to the pecking order. Plus, the behavior of some kids isn’t nice. The only good thing is meeting Ivy, her first true friend. (Puffin; Reprint edition, Sept. 4, 2014)

Ages: 8-12

Dinotrux Go to School

By Chris Gall

Today is the first day of school and the Dinotrux are nervous! What will they eat for lunch? Will their teacher be nice? But the Dinotrux don’t need to worry. They can help each other. And school isn’t scary. It’s fun, especially when you are part dinosaur and part truck! (LB Kids, July 8, 2014)

Ages: 4-8