The first day of school is nerve-racking for both teachers and students. Just about all go to bed with sheer nervousness in anticipation of what the new school year will hold. One of the best things about reading books is that they are relatable. Characters and their many antics and feelings are relatable to children and adults alike. In first day of school books, the characters experience fear, nervousness, anxiety, and excitement and meeting their new teachers and classmates.
Whether you’re a first-year teacher or a veteran going into their 20th year of teaching, you know that your students will come in nervous. And that somehow, those feelings put everybody on the same page. So go ahead and pick out a book and be on those pages together.
Why Read a Book on the First Day of School?
Starting school with reading a book takes much of the anxiety out of first-day activities. All the student needs to do is sit and listen. Whether they are in preschool, kindergarten, or senior in high school, they like listening to the teacher read stories. Of course, these books listed here are geared toward the lower grade level classes. During our early years, we learn more about ourselves and humanity through the writings of others than we do through much of our life experiences.
Top 15 Books to Read on the First Day of School
Every single story chosen here on our top 15 list is perfect for the first day of school. The stories are great to read aloud to your class and to discuss together as a group when finished. Teachers and parents from all over have read these books and rated them highly as some of the best first-day back-to-school books available on Amazon.
Each with bright and colorful pictures, memorable characters, and feelings that everyone can relate to is perfect for any classroom reading corner or home library.
1. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Who doesn’t have first-day jitters when starting anything new? First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is all about a little girl named Sarah and her nervousness and starting school in a brand new place. Many students that come into a classroom have never been to school before. Some don’t know any friends from their previous school. This is the perfect first day of school book to address those students while still addressing the nervousness of those who maybe have been with the same group of kids so far. With a five-star rating from over 4000 readers, there is no way you can go wrong with this book on the first day of school.
2. Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School
As a teacher and a mother, I love the Amelia Bedilia series of books! All of Amelia’s crazy adventures and her personality make her a completely lovable and relatable character. Children will love reading Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School. Herman Parish has sold over 35 million Amelia Beldila books worldwide and has become a classroom staple for the first day of school books. Get ready for a ton of excitement as you discover Amelia and all of her crazy adventures as she goes back to school.
From gluing herself to her seat to making friends, Amelia Bedelia is a beloved character that takes all of the nervousness and anxiety away that comes with making those goofy mistakes in a new place. This is a perfect book for kids starting kindergarten and up through the second grade.
3. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!
I have always been a sucker for the classic “back to school” books I grew up with; I have come to love this adorable and spunky pigeon who has lots of adventures and dilemmas. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems is a fun way to address those not-so-excited kids about starting school after a fun summer.
Your students will love the story! The sassy little pigeon asks all the questions about why he has to go to school. He addresses what if he doesn’t know enough and what if he doesn’t make any friends. The pigeon addresses all of the different fears and anxieties that kids feel on that first day. Especially those that are reacting with an attitude of not wanting to be at school because of those anxieties.
4. The Night Before Preschool
Many times, many stories focus on those early years of grade school, but it is important to focus on our tiny learners who are nervous about getting ready to start preschool. The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing is set to the classic rhythm of Twas the Night Before Christmas. Kids will easily picture a child, just like them, getting ready for his first day of Preschool. This story is great to read in class, but it is also wonderful for parents to read to their own little ones to help them get ready for that new adventure called school!
5. If You Take a Mouse to School
When choosing a book to read on the first day of school, I like to consider whether or not that book includes a series of other adventures for the character. In this case, both my children and other kids absolutely love this story simply because it doesn’t just end with the mouse going to school! Reading If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff when starting a new school year will certainly foster interest in reading all of the other stories written by Laura Numeroff surrounding this one.
In a roundabout way, this adorable story lets kids know all of the things that they need to be successful on their first day of school. Kids will love this adorable little mouse and all of the things he thinks he will need when going to school.
6. The Night Before First Grade
This cute story definitely appeals to those who are excited to start their first-grade year. The Night Before First Grade by Deborah Zemke is about a little girl named Penny determined to be prepared for her first day of school. In a funny and relatable way, Penny variances extreme nervousness when being separated from her best friend. Many students in the class feel this way when they don’t sit next to the people they know or are familiar with.
7. David Goes to School
The David series is about a very mischievous and rambunctious little boy. This particular story is one that all students will love and will quickly become a class favorite. David Goes to School by David Shannon is such a fun story about a little boy who gets into all kinds of trouble. While you do not necessarily want to share with your students all of the ways for them to get into trouble, this is a great book to demonstrate how you shouldn’t act and how you expect them to act. Consider this book a good one for a teachable moment.
8. Our Class is a Family
When starting the school year, we know kids are nervous, excited, and hopeful. But more importantly than anything, we want to establish that a classroom is a safe place in those first days. The book Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen does just that. For every student walking into your classroom for the first time, you want them to know that they are safe and loved. Taking the time to read books like this lets every child know that learning to love and respect one another is important.
9. We’re Different, We’re the Same
This book is an oldie, but a goodie! Originally published in 1992, our world needed to teach children the importance of valuing all of each other’s differences. In 2021, we need to continue this activity in teaching children to value each other, no matter what the differences may be. We’re Different; We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates addresses students that it’s OK to be different because, in the end, we’re all the same.
This is a fantastic book for a kindergarten class, as even students at this age begin to recognize differences and point them out. Reading this book and referencing it throughout the school year will help develop a class of accepting children.
10. Clifford’s First Day of School
Who doesn’t love a dog? Let alone a story about a GIANT red dog? Among the many first days of school books, Clifford the big red dog is a classic that children have enjoyed for decades. Clifford’s First Day of School by Norman Bridwell is one of that first day of school books you absolutely must have on your classroom bookshelf. Join Clifford as his owner Elizabeth takes him to school for the first time since he was a tiny puppy. This book addresses those nervous feelings in a light and fun way.
11. School’s First Day of School
Who knew that there could be a first day of school book for the school? This new book addresses all that nervousness from the school’s perspective, and it is fun! School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex asks those questions that all kids have in their heads but may not say out loud. Will they like me? Will the teacher like me? What if I get laughed at? Will the other kids be nice to me? The “school” addresses that it can see that lots of people feel just like it does.
12. Pete the Kitty’s First Day of Preschool
The Pete the Cat series of books written by James Dean is some of the most fun you will have a reading with small children. Pete the Cat books are beloved by many all over the U.S. and have become a classroom staple for early readers. Among the many first days of school books that discuss being nervous and anxious, this one talks about all of the fun things Pete will get to do while at school. Sometimes, just talking about all the fun will take many of those first-day jitters away.
13. A New First Day
Among all of the classic first day of school books, we cannot ignore that the pandemic has changed the first day of school for the next school year and potentially the one after. Even though there is light at the end of the tunnel, many schools will be returning for the first time next school year.
A New First Day by Elena Grant addresses those fears and concerns that students have come back to school for the first time in almost 2 school years. These aren’t the typical first-day jitters and nervousness that most students would be used to, and this story addresses those particular fears.
14. Second Grade, Here I Come!
There’s something big that happens over the summer between first grade and when a child starts second grade. They grow a little taller, they get a little wiser, and all of a sudden, they’re not just a little kid anymore. This book is for kids learning how to come into their own personalities. It can quickly become a favorite book to read in class. Second Grade, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg is a big kid book for all those little kids who believe they are all grown up.
15. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins is an Amazon top teacher pic and has a 4.9 out of five stars rating from over 3500 readers. Unlike any other, the story of a little dinosaur named Penelope Rex is all about making friends and trying not to eat them. This story will quickly become a class favorite to read aloud over and over again!
First Day of School Books Final Thoughts
The first day of school is all about establishing a fun and caring environment where students can learn. Because learning is our priority with students, make sure you choose books that have a teachable message in each one. We learn much about people and ourselves through some of our favorite books. Besides, good books support early age reading comprehension and motivate kids to learn reading. We hope that this list will give you exactly what you need to have a successful and exciting first day of school!