The Ultimate List of Must-Have Picture Books for the First Day of School!

The Ultimate List of Must-Have Picture Books for the First Day of School!

These diverse picture books prepare your classroom for the first day of school! The books represent all kinds of people, cultures, and backgrounds, creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment on the first day and beyond. These picture books for the first day of school will also reassure your students about what to expect in new situations.

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Why Read Picture Books for the First Day of School?

Teachers know the first few days and weeks set the classroom tone for the entire school year. 

Picture books are a powerful tool for establishing a thriving classroom culture on the first day of school. From inspiring creativity to teaching empathy and encouraging collaboration, picture books offer a unique and meaningful way to welcome students to their new learning environment. 

Book discussions could include school rules and routines, making new friends, anxieties and fears. The back to school books will also help you work towards a cohesive class community and help everyone get to know each other.

Through back to school books with diverse characters and themes, children may learn more about different cultures, beliefs, backgrounds and perspectives – allowing them to understand their classmates on a deeper level.

Picture books are an invaluable tool for bringing the classroom alive during back to school time. They create a safe and inclusive atmosphere for all students. By reading picture books together, teachers can help foster a sense of community within the classroom and ensure everyone feels comfortable in their new surroundings.


Picture Books for the First Day of School

The following picture books for the first day of school will reassure your students about school expectations, routines and making friends. There are many books to choose from, so you will find something that fits your needs during the back to school period. They are also back to school books suitable for older children.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

All Are Welcome sets the tone of acceptance on the first day of school and sends a powerful message that every student, regardless of race, religion, gender, culture, and background, is welcome in your classroom.

Reading All Are Welcome fosters discussions around the importance of inclusion, empathy, being oneself, acceptance, and nurturing a sense of community and belonging.

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Beatrice, who loves her blue tutu, is nervous about being herself on her first day of first grade. Her butterfly friend Benjamin’s support and encouragement taught Beatrice to overcome her fears, stand tall, and be herself.

Be Big helps create a nurturing and accepting classroom environment, encouraging your students to embrace their individuality. This story serves as a reminder that it’s okay to be different, that our differences make us special, and that support from friends can help us overcome fears and be true to ourselves.

The Buddy Bench by Patty Brozo

A group of empathetic students recognizes that the playground sometimes feels lonely. Their solution? A ‘Buddy Bench’ to ensure everyone has a friend.

The Buddy Bench inspires classroom discussions on kindness, building relationships and social skills, empathy, coping with loneliness, and easing into the new school year.

The Cool Bean by Jory John

A bean feels less special than its peers. It observes the coolness in its fellow beans, which isn’t about how they look or act but the kindness they radiate.

This book fosters conversations around important topics such as school life, perception, kindness, isolation, and self-esteem. In the end, it teaches us that no gesture is too small when done in kindness.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

The first of two books for the first day of school by Kevin Henkes. A young mouse, Chrysanthemum, adores her unique name but faces teasing at school due to its uniqueness. However, when her music teacher names her baby Chrysanthemum, it triggers a shift in perspective, leading her classmates to appreciate their unique identities and Chrysanthemums. 

Chrysanthemum encourages your students to embrace their identities and respect others’ uniqueness. It reminds us that open-mindedness and empathy can shift perspectives and contribute to an accepting environment.

Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman

Meet Chu, a little panda nervous about his first school day. His shyness takes over when he’s asked to introduce himself. A sneeze changes everything and brings laughter to the classroom, easing his anxiety and making everyone understand why he’s called Chu.

Chu’s First Day of School explores overcoming fears, embracing our uniqueness, and the importance of self-expression. It reminds us how Chu’s experiences show us that being nervous is okay and that what really matters is being true to ourselves.

The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman

Join Hassan as he navigates the complexities of starting a new life in England after fleeing war in Somalia. From feeling lonely and out of place to gradually finding a sense of belonging. 

Through Hassan’s journey, The Colour of Home inspires discussions on immigration, a sense of community and belonging, resilience, adaptability and creativity. Hassan’s journey, filled with challenges and triumphs, highlights adaptability, endurance, and finding a sense of home in unfamiliar places.

Daddy Long Legs by Nadine Brun-Cosme

A young child wrestles with worries about being picked up from school. With his creative responses, his father offers reassurances that help the child feel at ease. Their interactions continue until the child is finally satisfied, demonstrating how open communication can alleviate fears and anxieties.

Daddy Long Legs addresses first-day school jitters, the power of asking questions, growing independence, and confronting and managing fears.

The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert

Dive into a tale about a young boy, his first school crush, and his daring way of grabbing her attention by embodying what she loves the most – birds. Amid the giggles of his peers, he teaches us about being true to ourselves, expressing our feelings, and the power of friendship.

This story encourages exploration into diverse themes such as self-discovery, self-expression, social skills, and our unique identities.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day You Begin sheds light on the importance of sharing our personal stories, expressing that we all sometimes feel like outsiders. Yet, it’s this courage to be ourselves that truly connects us.

Integrate this book into your curriculum to facilitate discussions on empathy, identity, a sense of belonging, a growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem.

I Don’t Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake

I Don’t Want to Go to School explores the common worries about starting school and the exciting discoveries that can be made once there. Simon, a little bunny, initially resists going to school, but after making new friends and experiencing the fun of learning, he does not want to leave when it’s time to go home!

Introduce I Don’t Want to Go to School to spark discussions about coping with new experiences, the value of trying new things, and making new friends.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

The Dot follows Vashti, a young girl who discovers her artistic voice with her art teacher’s encouragement and just a single dot. Witness as Vashti’s journey unfolds, from making her first mark to creating a stunning collection of dot paintings and even inspiring another child to express himself through art.

The Dot teaches us that we can become great risk-takers and creators with determination, a growth mindset, and a little encouragement. It’s never too early to instill the values of self-esteem and self-expression in our students.

Edda: A Little Valkyrie's First Day of School by Adam Auerbach

Join Edda, a brave Valkyrie, on her epic journey as she leaves her home in Asgard to embark on her first day of school. She quickly realizes she feels different from the other students. Instead of letting her differences hold her back, Edda channels her courage to forge new friendships and navigate the challenges that come her way.

Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School sparks discussions on embracing differences, facing new experiences confidently, exploring kindness and empathy, and building meaningful connections with others.

Going to School by Rose Blake

Going to School introduces children to the day-to-day experiences of school life through the eyes of a group of friends. From getting to school, participating in classroom activities, enjoying playtime, and exploring the world of books during storytime to relishing their school meals. 

Going to School creates a sense of familiarity and comfort, especially for children new to the school environment. It facilitates conversations about adaptation to new environments and routines, the importance of friendships, and the joys of learning.

I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison

I Got the School Spirit captures the enthusiasm and positivity of a young girl on her first day of school. Her empathetic approach to her classmates turns a potentially nerve-wracking experience into a heartwarming journey of new friendships.

I Got the School Spirit provides a springboard for discussions on the importance of self-esteem, maintaining a growth mindset, building self-confidence, displaying enthusiasm, showing empathy, and nurturing relationships.

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Meet Brian, a shy boy who struggles to stand out. When he befrien