Easing First Day Jitters: 5 Back to School Book Recommendations

It’s that time of year! Back to school is here.

Parents and kids alike have feelings about the return to school. Even with those carefree summer days some students are excited and ready to return to the classroom. Others may be feeling a little more apprehensive and anxious about the start to a new year. At our house, we always have the conversation that it is okay to feel nervous. It is okay to feel unsure. And it is okay if they may not feel excited.

As a mom and a teacher, there are a few books that I share with my own kids to help them feel better about the beginning of a new year. Books are a great way to convey the message that it is okay to feel what you are feeling when it comes to a new year. 

5 Back to School Book Recommendations

The Pigeon Has to Go to School by Mo Willems

This book is all about the beloved Pigeon who does not want to go to school. Pigeon does not understand “why we have to go to school” and has a million reasons why we do not have to go to school. He asks many questions about what his day will be like — and finally at the end of the book cannot wait to go.

Many of the questions in this book are much like questions our kids have about school. Some of the questions and anxious feelings the pigeon has are easily feelings our kids have too. This book does a great job of encouraging kids that school is a great place to be. And Mo Willems is the author and so you can’t really go wrong. 

First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenburg

First Day Jitters book cover

This book is about a character named Sarah Jane Hartwell. Sarah wakes up in the morning and is anxious about starting at a brand new school. Mr. Hartwell has to drag her out of bed and keep her moving to get out of the house on time. Mr. Hartwell drops her off at school. The whole time you are expecting Sarah to be a student, but you find out that Sarah is actually a new teacher. She is feeling just as anxious as a teacher as a student would be. This book is a great reminder to kids that teachers have first day jitters as well. I share this book with my own kids and I share this book every year with my students. I remind them that even teachers feel nervous on the first day of school and that that is absolutely okay. 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

The Kissing Hand book cover

The Kissing Hand is a book I have read with my kids since they were babies. Now that they are school aged, it has taken on a whole new meaning. Chester Racoon is nervous about his first day of school and does not want his mom to leave his side. His mom explains about all of the amazing things he will do at school. She then kisses his hand and has him place it on his cheek. She reminds him that when he does that he can remember that his mom loves him and that he will be okay. He will be filled with “toasty warm thoughts” and he will not feel so anxious any more. This is a good reminder for our kids that they can do the same and feel the love of their parents or caregiver even when they are at school. 

Brand New Kid by Katie Couric

The Brand New Kid book cover

Brand New Kid is about a student who is new to a school. He looks different and talks differently. Kids do not know what to think of him and so some kids taunt and tease him. His life at his new school is pretty miserable until a student walks up and talks to him. The student invites him to play after school and discovers that this kid is really awesome and they have a lot in common. Besides making a new friend,  the two kids teach their classmates that it is okay to accept others who are different than us and we should get to know them instead of judging them. The lesson taught is that people are not that different from one another after all. .

The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart

The World Needs More Purple People Book cover

This book is not necessarily a first day of school book, but it reminds us that we need all types of people in this world. We need kids who ask questions. We need kids who stand up for others. We need kids who are not afraid to use their voices for good. This beautiful book reminds us that it is okay to be who we are; and that we all have value no matter what we look like, believe in, or behave. A purple person is kind and hard-working. We are all purple people! 

All of these books are great books to get your kids ready for returning to school. All of these books can be found at your local library and teach us lessons that the feelings we have are most likely also felt by others.

These books remind us that we can and should not be afraid to be ourselves. These books remind us that it’s okay to feel nervous or any other feeling we may be having. If you have some other great books that you like to share with your kids starting a new year, please share them in the comments.

Sending you all warm wishes as you send your precious kids back to school. 
Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


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