Diverse Picture Books for the First Day of School
These picture books for the first day of school will reassure your students about what to expect in new situations. They promote discussions on routines, expectations and making new friends.
Why Read Picture Books for the First Day of School?
Teachers know the first few days and weeks set the tone of your classroom for the entire school year.
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 emphasises your needs for the beginning of the school year.
Discussions could include school rules and routines, making new friends, anxiety and fears. The books will also help you work towards a cohesive class community and for everyone to get to know each other.
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Picture Books for the First Day of School
Be Big!: Beatrice's First Day of First Grade by Katie Kizer
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Vanessa wears her fanciest outfit on her first day of school. The reaction from her new classmates to her bold clothes makes her feel self-conscious. This feeling increases when she tries to write her long name. She complains to her mother, who tells her why she is called Vanessa. This gives her the confidence to find a common bond and make new friends.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
The first of two books for the first day of school by Kevin Henkes. Chrysanthemum loves her name, but she gets teased for its uniqueness on her first day of school. When her music teacher reveals she is naming her baby Chrysanthemum, everyone wants to change their name to a flower.
Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman
The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman
When Hassan and his family are forced to move to England because of war, he feels lonely and out of place. He finds his new environment cold and grey compared to his colourful life in Somalia. Hassan feels more settled as he makes new friends and begins to appreciate the colours of his new home.
The Cool Bean by Jory John
Of four beans in a pod, three are super cool. The fourth beans feel inferior because it doesn't feel it is special. It starts to notice that what makes these beans cool is their kindness towards others. The fourth bean changes its outlook when it learns no gesture is too small when done in kindness.
The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert
On his first day of school, a young boy falls in love with Sylvia, who sits in front of him. While she is all he can see, Sylvia only has eyes for birds. The boy comes to school dressed up as a bird to get Sylvia's attention. Ignoring the giggles of his classmates, he is thrilled when Sylvia finally sees him.
This translated book promotes discussions on personal interests, self-discovery, self-expression, and social skills.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The Day You Begin considers the difficulty of entering a room where you don’t know anyone. In these situations, we are “an only” until we share our personal stories. Woodson reminds us that we are all outsiders, and it takes courage to be ourselves.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
An art teacher encourages Vashti to make a mark, a dot, prompting Vashti to create a wide range of dot paintings. She displays her work at the school art show and inspires a young boy to make his own unique mark.
Going to School by Rose Blake
An introduction to school for young children. Follow a group of friends getting to and from school and following their daily routine, including classroom activities, playtime, storytime and the food they eat.
I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison
Feel the positivity and enthusiasm as a young girl starts school. She shows empathy to students struggling with first-day nerves and makes new friends. Told in the first person, the girl shows how fun and exciting school can be, especially if you have a positive mindset.
TIslandborn by Junot Diazitle
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes
Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
The second of two books for the first day of school by Kevin Henkes. Lilly loves school, her teacher, and her purple plastic purse. When her teacher, Mr Slinger, confiscates the purse, she plans her revenge. She draws a mean picture of Mr Slinger but soon feels remorse and sets out to make amends.
Marianthe's Story: Painted Words by Aliki
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
After leaving South Korea, Yoon tries to settle into her new home in America. Her name means ‘Shining wisdom’ and she loves the way it looks written in Korean. She doesn’t like how it looks when written in English. She wonders if she should change her name to help her fit in.
My Teacher is a Monster! by Peter Brown
Robert’s teacher, Ms Kirby, is a monster. Or that is how he sees her in the classroom. When Robert meets Ms Kirby outside of the school, his opinion of her changes as he realises she is not who he thought she was.
Promotes discussions on school life, perspectives, perceptions and making judgements.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker
Zura hesitantly brings her Nana Akua to her school for Grandparents Day. With traditional Ghanian tribal markings on her face, Nana Akua looks very different from the other grandparents. She creatively explains to Zura and her classmates the meaning of her culture and why it makes her special.
Never, Not Ever! by Beatrice Alemagna
While the other animals make their way to school, Pascaline refuses. “Never, not ever!” She shrieks so loudly her parents shrink to the size of peanuts. Pascaline tucks them under her wing and takes them to school. What initially seems like a fun idea turns into a nuisance. She returns to school the next day alone.
This translated book promotes discussions on being independent and self-management.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
On the first day of school, sisters, Asiya and Faizah walk hand in hand. Asiya is wearing a hijab for the first time, representing being strong. Faizah admires her sister's beautiful blue scarf but hears other children making fun of her. The sisters follow their mother's advice about being strong and true to themselves in the face of bullying.
Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler
Everyone follows Johan's rules of the playground, all except Lennox. She wants to become the ruler of the playground. As playground politics and demanding behaviour increase, they lose all their friends. On reflection, they realise that they need to change their attitude, and they come up with a plan to apologise.
School's First Day of School by Adam Rex
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Jeremy is mortified when his old shoes fall apart, and the school counsellor provides an unstylish replacement pair. He successfully searches a second-hand shop for a pair of ‘those shoes’, but they are too small. After some reflection, he passes the sneakers to a young child who Jeremy realises needs them more than him.
We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong
A young girl determined to be fierce puts on her armour (a rainbow shirt). She stands up to dragons (dogs), climbs the Mountain of Knowledge (the library), walks with giants (older children) and, by the end of the day, builds new bridges (making friends).
Promotes courage, overcoming fears and confidence.
Your Name Is a Song by J Thompkins-Bigelow
A young girl leaves school frustrated after a day of her classmates and teacher mispronouncing her name. On their walk home she tells her mother she doesn’t want to go back, who in turn tells her daughter “your name is a song.” She returns to school empowered and shares what she has learned.
Now you have some great ideas oof picture books for the first day of school, which ones catch your eye?
What are your go-to picture books for the first day of school? What do you do to develop a community in your classroom?
Teaching Tolerance has a collection of lessons and activities for the beginning of the school year – Know Your Classmates and Mix it Up Learning Plan.
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