Books to help with starting school

Starting school is a big life event – as is starting at a new kinder, creche, childcare or being in a new class with a new teacher. Here are some bookish suggestions around routines, anxiety, friendships and social skills to ease any bumps in the road.


STARTING PREP/FOUNDATION


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Starting School by Jane Godwin & Anna Walker

Five children approach their first day of school in this delightful story. Tim, Hannah, Sunita, Joe and Polly have very different personalities and different experiences when it comes to their first day. New Preps will find comfort in learning the details of an average school day – learning names, playing, making friends, snacks, classroom rules, home time – and knowing that everyone has their own preferences and ways of doing things. Many of the little worries and stresses of the day are covered as well (such as not being seen, going to the toilets, having your hair pulled, and being tired at after-school care) in an honest and low-key way.

For ages 4 and up.


schoomaddies

Maddie’s First Day by Penny Matthews & Liz Anelli

Maddie’s first day of school is a heady mix of excited anticipation and nervous tummy wobbles. She dresses in her shiny new uniform, walks to school with Daddy, meets up with her friends Charlie and Maya, is startled by her noisy new schoolmates, sings songs and eats her packed lunch. And when she’s feeling vulnerable, she uses the comfort blankie she sneaked into her schoolbag to feel better. Simple, age-appropriate text and lively illustrations of modern Australian school life make this a reassuring read.

For ages 4 and up.


STARTING KINDERGARTEN


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Miffy at School by Dick Bruna

Preschoolers love Miffy, so following her on a simple day at school where she writes, draws, sings, plays and reads is the perfect introduction for kids about to go to a kindergarten or early learning environment for the first time. Rhyming text and Dick Bruna’s classic bold illustrations paint a happy picture of the school environment.

For ages 1 and up.


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More picks for ages 1 and up

Other pre-school reads we recommend include:


MAKING FRIENDS


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Old Friends, New Friends by Andrew Daddo & Jonathan Bentley

A little girl is excited to return for the first day of another year of school, but when she meets her new class she realises that none of her old best friends are in it! This thoughtful story follows how the girl grapples with the realisation, recalls her mum and granddad’s advice about coping with unpleasant things, and then decides what sort of new friends she’ll look for. Different types of potential friends are covered in a way that will make any young reader feel sought after: sporty and active, quiet and introverted, good conversationalists, and more.

For ages 4 and up.


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This Is Our House by Michael Rosen & Bob Graham

This story about sharing captures the rough and tumble of group yard play really well. George commandeers a cardboard box as his “house” and refuses to share it with the other kids who clamor to join his game. When George leaves to go the toilet, he finally gets a taste of what it’s like to be excluded. There’s a very happy ending for this tale that demonstrates the joys and challenges of sharing and inclusion.

For ages 3 and up.


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Further picks for helping to make friends

You’ll also find some more excellent books in one of our earlier blog posts, all about making and keeping friends. The range of picture books included in this post cover shyness, loyalty, making successful conversations, conflict, imaginary friends and more.


SCHOOL REFUSAL AND ANXIETY


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I am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child

Patient big brother Charlie and resolute little sister Lola are an absolute delight at the best of times, and they’re at their best in I am Too Absolutely Small for School. Lola is almost big enough for school but she has a million and one reasons for why it’s unnecessary: she’s way too busy, she doesn’t have the time, and finally it comes out that her imaginary friend Soren Lorensen is a bit nervous about it. Child covers some of the main concerns about, and benefits of, attending school for the first time with humour and whimsy. And of course when Lola does eventually agree to go to school she has an amazing time!

For ages 3 and up.


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Just Jack by Jane Tanner

Jack is a little nervous about his first day of kinder, so he wears his favourite superhero costume to give himself courage. Jack the superhero is a hit with the kinder kids, but when his grubby costume must eventually be washed Jack has to face kinder as just himself. This is a lovely story about having the confidence to be yourself, but also for discussing with kids how to be flexible and creative when coming up with strategies to cope with anxiety – Jack secretly wears his superhero socks, and that’s enough for him to feel comfortable.

For ages 3 and up.


FUNNY SCHOOL STORIES TO EASE THE WAY


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Mum at School by Eric Veille

When a scared girl convinces her mum to stay on with her at school, it turns out not to be the blessing that she imagined. Mum isn’t a very happy student – she falls asleep in class and snores, she can’t cut out and paste, she’s clumsy on the play equipment, and an all-round disaster to have around. Once she leaves, the girl realises school is more enjoyable without her, and that she also has a role in helping out the students that are still feeling anxious. Kids will love the role reversal and silliness in this charming picture book, and get the gentle message that school is not really the best place for mums and dads. This book is also available in hardcover.

For ages 4 and up.


schoolhidelion

How to Hide a Lion at School by Helen Stephens

School is portrayed as a fun, social and desirable place to be in this lighthearted story that demystifies school locations and activities. Iris and the lion are firm friends, so when Iris starts going to school the lion is desperate to attend. Miss Holland isn’t having a bar of it though, and the lion is forced to hide in a range of school locations (albeit unsuccessfully). When the lion falls asleep on top of the school bus however, he winds up joining the kids on an excursion to the museum with chaotic and hilarious results.

For ages 3 and up.


Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

Maddie's First Day

Maddie’s First Day

Penny Matthews, Liz Anelli

$26.99Buy now

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