Summer vacation has come to an end, and many of the children in our lives are getting back into the routine of more structured days, and reuniting with old friends as well as making new friends. For some, it is a brand-new experience that can be both scary and exciting! Reading picture books about school can help calm some of those fears, as well as share common experiences. As parents and caregivers, we can use these stories as a starting point to talk to our children about the experiences they are having at school. School should feel like a safe and enjoyable place to be. We have many stories about school in our children’s book collection ranging from serious to silly, and I will be highlighting some of my personal favorites here.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
This is a must-read! With bold, detailed illustrations and a story that follows a day at school for a diverse group of students, children are given the message that they are all welcome at school. “We’re part of a community. Our strength is our diversity. A shelter from adversity. All are welcome here.” This book promotes acceptance and brings warm feelings to readers.
Lily’s Cat Mask by Julie Fortenberry
This is a sweet story for children experiencing new emotions or life transitions. Lily is gifted a cat mask that she wears when she wants to either hide from the world, or when she wants to be noticed. She struggles with starting school, so she wears the mask to shield her facial expressions and to cope with her emotions. While it appears that she is hiding behind her mask, she is also being noticed and makes a new friend.
Mary Had a Little Lizard by Kayla Harren
This is a vibrant and hilariously illustrated wordless picture book about Mary’s pet lizard sneaking off to school with her. As one can imagine, the adorable lizard gets into trouble while at school. The detailed illustrations allow readers of all ages to tell the story in their own words.
Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice Ransom
Amanda has high expectations about how her first day of school will go. When things don’t go exactly as planned, she decides to quit kindergarten. An unexpected twist gives her a change of heart and earns her a new friend.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum always loved her name and thought it was perfect, until her first day of school. She gets teased repeatedly by some of her classmates and starts to believe her name is awful. Her parents and classroom teacher are dismissive of the teasing she endures, but an admired music teacher influences her classmates to have a change of perspective that makes them all wish they had such beautiful names. This is a great story to lead into a discussion on the acceptance of others and their differences, as well as how to handle bullying behaviors for everyone involved.
If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t! by Elise Parsley
What seemed like a great idea for the subject of her show-and-tell, turns out to be a hilarious mistake for Magnolia as her alligator brings her a day full of trouble. Expressive illustrations will amuse readers as the story unfolds. Readers will be able to relate to their own experiences with making mistakes that have led them into trouble.