The Best Picture Books about Starting School

Image shows young boy reading a book titled 'Old Friends, New Friends' by Andrew Daddo. On the right of the image, text overlay reads On the blog: The Best Picture Books about Starting School

Starting school can be an exciting yet daunting time for both parents and children, whether it’s their very first day of ‘big’ school, or they’re going back to school after six weeks of holidays. One way to help alleviate some of the nervousness and first day jitters is by reading picture books about starting school with our little ones. These books can help our school-starters become familiar with the idea of school, learn what to expect and help them feel more confident and prepared, plus they’re a great way to connect!

With a new school year starting in Australia in the coming weeks, I’m sharing my favourite books (as a parent and a teacher!) that Aussie kids can relate to about going to school, to read to your little one as they prepare for their first day of preschool or school. The books that I am going to share today are in no way an extensive list, but rather a starting point for you to take to your local library in the coming weeks.

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First Day – Andrew Daddo

This is a lovely, simple story about getting ready in the morning for the first day of school, waving goodbye to Mum and then seeing each other again as soon as school ends. My favourite part of First Day is the sentence that says ‘Remember what we always say: the best bit about waving goodbye is that the next wave will be hello’ and I think it’s a lovely reminder we can share with our little ones when it comes time to say goodbye at the classroom, especially if they are having a tricky time separating.

Starting School by Jane Goodwin

This story follows the experiences of five children starting school, who all have different experiences and challenges within the same classroom. Starting School is a longer book, but covers a wide range of topics including getting ready for school, making friends, learning at school, playtimes, and their favourite things about being at school.

Reading this with your little one would lead to some lovely conversations around what was similar or different between the story and their own experiences at school, for example when it came time to saying goodbye to their adults, one child was feeling excited about starting school, someone felt nervous and some wasn’t feeling too fussed at all because they we distracted with a book about dinosaurs!

Magic Heart by Amy Cox

Magic Heart is about a girl’s first day of school and all the feelings that can bring. The author, Amy was inspired by her own daughter feeling a bit worried about starting school. She started a little tradition of drawing a heart on her daughter’s hand to remind her throughout the day that she was thinking of her and would always be there at the end of the day. It’s something you can do with your little ones, even without reading the book, to remind them that you love them, even when you’re not with them at school.

Old Friends, New Friends by Andrew Daddo

This story follows the same characters from First Day (shared above) and is a story for the first day back at school, no matter what year level your little one is starting. Old Friends, New Friends is all about how starting in a new class can be really exciting, until you realise that none of your old friends are in your class this year, and how to make new friends. The author, Andrew Daddo, has done a wonderful job describing how our little ones might be feeling as they step into their new classroom.

My First Day at School by Merideth Costain

My First Day at School is similar to Starting School [Link] that I shared earlier, in that it follows the experiences of four children as they start their first day at school. Again, having a variety of experiences to read about can be wonderful conversations starters and comforting for our little ones to be able to relate to.

When I’m Feeling Nervous by Trace Maroney

The When I’m Feeling series by Trace Maroney are all wonderful in not only describing different feelings, how our bodies might be reacting and some of the different events that can cause these feelings, but also strategies to help our little ones overcome them. When I’m Feeling Nervous can help your little one if they are feeling nervous about their first day, and can be a great starting point for strategies they can use to help them feel less anxious throughout their day.

Spot Goes to School by Eric Hill

Spot Goes to School is more directed at young children starting childcare or preschool, as it is very play-based, but is a lovely, simple story about all the fun things that they’ll be able to do.

Ozzie Goes to School by Jocelyn Crabb

Based in Australia, Ozzie Goes to School follows the experiences and excitement of a boy living in the Northern Territory as he goes to school for the first time.

Maddie’s First Day by Penny Matthews

Maddie’s First Day is another story set in Australia, so may be more relatable for Aussie kids than others set in the US or the UK, and explores the excitement of starting big school.

My First Day at School by Rosie Smith

Filled with animals getting ready to start school for the first time, My First Day of School is another lovely, simple story about learning and making new friends at school.

As I mentioned earlier, this is by no means an extensive list – in fact, I’d say there are hundreds of books about starting school – but these are my all time favourites! I’d love to know if there’s a particular picture book about starting school that you’ve enjoyed with your little one?

But for now, happy reading!

Lycie x

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