Books for Back to School

Recommendations to help kids get excited

Helping our children get excited about heading back to school at the end of summer can be a challenge. After long days that have allowed for sleeping in, playing with friends, and frolicking in the surf and sand, it’s understandable that little ones need extra motivation to get back into the habit of waking up early and settling into a school-day routine. If you’re looking for ways to get your kids pumped to go back to school this season, consider rolling a few of these great reads into your end-of-summer repertoire. (Prices quoted refer to hardcovers, which range in price across different vendors. Book cover images courtesy of Respective publishers.)

In “The Secret Life of Squirrels: Back to School” (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 32 pages, $17.99), author and photographer Nancy Rose explains that Mr. Peanuts and his teacher friend Rosie are busily prepping for the first day of school. They go shopping for school supplies; set up the library, music room and sports equipment; and decorate the classroom. Mr. Peanuts soon learns that it’s not easy being a teacher, and that getting ready for a class full of new faces is hard work. This book teaches kids to appreciate all the effort teachers put in to get ready for the first day of school. The author’s squirrel-themed children’s books have become popular because the illustrations are actually real-life photos of wild squirrels that live in her backyard. This story was written for ages 3-6.


In “Welcome to Kindergarten” (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 32 pages, $16), author Anne Rockwell addresses those first-day-of-school jitters by taking us on a journey alongside little Tim as he visits his future kindergarten classroom and learns all about what he’ll be doing during his first year of school. At first, Tim is daunted by the big classroom and all the new experiences that lie ahead, but he soon starts to focus on the fun that lies in store for him as he explores the felt board weather center; cooking center;  outdoor playground; and reading, math and art centers. This story encourages and calms kids who feel nervous or anxious about starting school for the first time, and was written for ages 3-6. 


In “Ready or Not, Woolbur Goes to School!” (HarperCollins Publishers, 32 pages, $17.99), author Lisa Helakoski and author-illustrator Lee Harper explore what happens when the free-spirited sheep we grew to love in the first “Woolbur” tale, attends his first day of school. Woolbur is known for marching to the beat of his own drum, so unlike the rest of his classmates, he is not nervous, but rather excited. Woolbur’s enthusiasm rubs off on the other students, proving that even though he draws outside the lines at times, he is actually an excellent role model because he encourages others to enjoy being at school. This book teaches kids the value of self-confidence and positivity, and was written for ages 4-8.


For a slightly different perspective on first-day-of-school jitters, author Adam Rex presents a school’s point of view in “School’s First Day of School” (Roaring Brook Press, 32 pages, $17.99). The story is set at Frederick Douglass Elementary, “where everyone is just a little bit nervous, especially … the school.” While the school has a rough start with kids complaining to their parents about not wanting to be there, it soon discovers how rewarding it is to be the site of so much learning, and becomes proud of the important role it serves. This book was written for ages 4-8.


Elizabeth Lincicome is a mother, communications expert and freelance writer based in Raleigh.


Categories: Enrichment, Seasonal Fun