When the crayons and lined paper go on sale, I know my favorite time of year is just around the corner: back to school. I grew up in Arizona, so the first day of school and crisp fall mornings had nothing to do with each other. Even so, August signals the end of summer for me (even if the temperature is still in triple digits). My sister-in-law is sending her first child to Kindergarten next week, so this is an even bigger back to school year for our family. Whether you’ve been back for a couple weeks (I’m looking at you, west coast) or won’t start until September, here are 7 picture books to read while you and yours get ready for school:
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry G. Allard Jr. and James Marshall takes me back to the best parts of elementary school every time. (Pretty much anything illustrated by James Marshall does that.) If you can’t get enough of the horrible substitute teacher sent to cure the rowdy class in room 207, Miss Nelson is Back and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day are also great.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Ruth Harper, and Nancy Leak is perfect for any child or parent feeling anxious about back-to-school separation. Even older kids that are back-to-school veterans can benefit from the reminder that Mom’s love can go anywhere; I’ll be the first to admit that I still call my mom when I need a boost of confidence.
This is My Home, This is My School by Jonathan Bean caught my eye because we homeschool our children. That doesn’t keep us from loving books about traditional schools, but we all appreciated seeing something closer to our normal. I was worried the book would feel forced, but it was just sweet. The page showing the family’s English lesson (with the whole family reading a book in bed) was my personal favorite, since we do so much of our reading in our pajamas.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes tackles many school situations: long and complicated names, new friends, and the healing properties of hugs, kisses, and Parcheesi. We all need a Mrs. Twinkle in our lives. (Although I must admit to feeling more like Mrs. Chud most days. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “Thank you for telling me that. Now go lie down.”) One of these days I’m going to make myself an outfit with seven lucky pockets in Chrysanthemum’s honor.
Follow the Line to School by Laura Ljungkvist is perfect for sneaking a peak at the important places in a school: recess, the art corner, show and tell, the library, the cafeteria (and more). Although he pretends to be too old for “baby books,” my third grader kept peeking over my shoulder to check out all the little details on each page.
My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown teaches a valuable lesson about seeing the good in others, but it’s Peter Brown’s bright and hilarious illustrations that we love best. Watching Bobby’s teacher change from a monster to a lady page by page was especially fascinating. (Plus my librarian recently told me all about a time she had lunch with Peter Brown and how nice he was, so there’s that.)
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child. The day before I started 7th grade, my older brother told me I would never need to buy a pen or a pencil again. “People just drop them all over the place! You can find anything you need on the ground between classes!” It pays to have a big brother or sister to tell you what to expect, which is exactly what Charlie does when Lola is afraid to start school.
This was a fun list of me to make, but I’m sure I missed some great back-to-school favorites. What others should we read as we get ready to start the school year?