I know it’s still summer BUT… the mind will no doubt be starting to slowly shift to back to September and the start of a new school year. To support your shift, I’m excited to share some new “back to school” picture books to share with your new students on those first few days back. The first day of school can feel overwhelming for many students, but picture books are a fantastic way to ease them into the transition.
From laugh out loud fun, to first day emotions, to school spirit and class rules, these new back to school books will help your students settle into the first week with a little less worry and a little more ease.
Here are my top ten favorite new “back to school” books for 2023!
The Crayons Go Back to School – Drew Daywalt
While not quite as good as the original, this book is a wonderful back to school book with familiar characters and lots of cheer! I love the crayon books!
Back to School, Backpack! – Simon Rich
Told from the point of view of a backpack who is feeling nervous about going back to school. Full of humour and a clever way to approach back to school nerves!
The Brilliant Ms. Bangle – Cara Devins
This book had me chuckling! When a beloved teacher librarian retires, students are determined not to like her replacement Ms. Bangle. But soon after the eccentric Ms. Bangle arrives with a few tricks up her sleeve, she soon has the kids engaged. This book is full of fun and incudes great details and wonderful illustrations!
Mr. S – Monica Arnaldo
This ridiculously quirky story is one of my favorite new back to school books! A group of children walk into their new classroom and discover a sandwich on the teacher’s desk but no teacher. After much debate, they agree that the sandwich must be their teacher. Such comical events ensue and a great surprise ending. Your students will LOVE this one!
On the Night Before Kindergarten – Rosemary Wells
On the night before Kindergarten, little Milo is worried and he dreams of all the things that could go wrong. The next day, things get worse when Mum and Dad aren’t allowed to stay in class with him! But by day’s end, Milo has made new friends and his worries are gone!
The Worry Balloon – Monica Mancillas
A beautiful story about back to school worries that could be used as a starting point to discuss worries and mindfulness with your students. The story is written to make the reader feel calm, with gentle illustrations and back notes with suggestions for helping children manage their worries.
Giant-Sized Butterflies on My First Day of School – Justin Roberts
A little girl has a nervous tummy thinking about the first day of school. Her mother reassures her and tells of her own “butterfly stomach” experience and how she let them go. I really like the message that “first days” and starting new things can often make us nervous and have butterflies, but sometimes that feeling of butterflies is just us opening our wings wide as we experience something new. A lovely sentiment.
How to Get Your Octopus to School – Becky Scharnhorst
It’s impossible not to giggle at this hilarious story about a little girl preparing an anxious octopus for his first day of school. Great read-aloud and a perfect anchor for instructional writing!
And Then Comes School – Tom Brenner
This author has a number of “And Then Comes…” books (Then Comes Halloween, Then Comes Christmas, and Then Comes Summer) and I really like how this book incorporates seasonal change into the back to school theme. The book starts as summer activities are ending and follows two sisters as they prepare for school. Clothes to sort, new clothes and supplies to buy, backpacks to pack…then pancakes to celebrate, back to school pictures, and a bus ride.
Our School is a Family – Shannon Olsen
Wonderful follow-up to the bestselling Our Class is a Family, this book is a perfect first-week-back book to share to introduce the “school family” and all the different people that make a school run and work. LOVE this one!
Our Classroom Rules! – Kallie George
Here is a great anchor book to read before you and your students develop your classroom rules anchor chart! Cute play on words as readers discover that with a few classroom rules, your classroom RULE! Playful story and a great reminder of how a little kindness in the classroom can make a big difference!
A Letter From Your Teacher on the First Day of School – Shannon Olsen
I KNOW this is not a new book, but can’t help myself! If you have not read it, it really is a must have for your back to school collection. It’s a heartwarming book written as a letter from the teacher welcoming their new group of students on the first day of school. So heartfelt and sincere and a wonderful starting point for class community building. There is even a blank space on the last page for you to sign your own name so that your students know that the letter is from you! LOVE! And there is even a follow up for sharing on the last day of school – A Letter from Your Teacher on the Last Day of School.