Getting ready to start school has very little to do with the alphabet and lots to do with practical and emotional preparation (see School readiness skills for pre-schoolers). Their first day at school can seem like a huge leap in the dark so help prepare children for starting school with these brilliant starting school books. Snuggling up with a ‘starting school book’ is a great way to familiarise your child with their new routine and address any worries in a relaxed and non-threatening environment.
Children thrive on predictability and many children do find change worrying. When there are big changes coming up, you can also help by keeping the rest of their lives as stable as possible (see Helping children cope with change). And make sure your morning routine is stress-free to help them arrive at school (and you arrive at work!) calm and collected.
Here are my top ten starting school books for preparing children for their first day at school (in no particular order).
Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School
What’s not to love about a boy who takes a bucketful of dinosaurs everywhere?! It’s the epitome of child logic. If your little one is a fan of this series, then Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School (by Ian Whybrow) is the perfect ‘in’ for talking to him/her about first-day-at-school nerves and how they can manage them.
Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo
I am a huge devotee of the Blue Kangaroo books – maybe it is all those wistful ‘oo’ rhymes or just their gentle exploration of feelings. Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo (by Emma Chichester Clark) is quietly reassuring whilst lightly touching on the possibility that someone might be a little bit worried about going to school for the first time. Lots of positivity about all the wonderful new exciting possibilities that school opens up.
Boris Starts School
Boris Starts School (by Carrie Weston) is about feeling like the odd one out and making friends. The characters are all animals but the classroom in the illustrations is lifelike so it’s great for familiarising little ones with the bits and pieces that they will be surrounded with at school. The indirectness of the message is perfect for starting a conversation without causing anxiety, especially if you aren’t sure how your child is feeling about the upcoming change. Great for easing fears about being surrounded by new people.
Augustine (by Melanie Watt) isn’t really about starting school at all. But it is about change and being surrounded by new things and unfamiliar people. Particularly good for children who are moving house as well as those starting a new school.
Starting School (by Allan Ahlberg) is a straightforward but likeable introduction to school that will help you talk through the school day with your child and prepare him/her for a new routine and new surroundings. An easy and reassuring read.
Jellybean Goes to School
Colourful illustrations and with accurate details (like school uniform and lunch break) but still a really enjoyable read. Jellybean Goes to School (by Margaret Roc) confronts starting school worries and fears head on. One of the best starting school books for children who are clearly worried as it will help you talk about the details.
I Am Too Absolutely Small For School (Charlie and Lola)
If your child is a Charlie and Lola devotee then I Am Too Absolutely Small For School (by Lauren Child) is a win-win. Full of warmth and humour and lots of quirks to bring out a wry grin in adults too. But it’s a bit of a marmite book this one so (as with all these picks) always a good idea to read it first before you launch into it with your child.
Alfie and the Big Boys
I absolutely love the retro illustrations in the Alfie series. Alfie and the Big Boys (by Shirley Hughes) is a fabulous story for helping children see that the things we worry about don’t always come true. It is also one of those rare children’s books that specifically show boys being kind and nurturing and comforting each other when they have difficult feelings.
Topsy and Tim: Start School
Familiar from the TV (and many other books!), if your child has grown up with Topsy and Tim then they are the ideal characters to walk them through their first day at school. Topsy and Tim: Start School (by Jean Adamson) is simply reassuring. One of the most positive and practical of the starting school books.
Starting School (Biff, Chip & Kipper)
This is a great book if your child has expressed worries about starting school. Starting School (First Experiences with Biff, Chip & Kipper) addresses lots of common starting school worries head-on – so maybe not the best book to read if your child hasn’t expressed concerns or you may end up creating anxiety that wasn’t necessary!
I hope you find this selection of starting school books useful. Please do comment below if you read them (or if you want to recommend alternatives!). You might also want to take a look at this selection of Books for helping children cope with change, Books for teaching children social skills, Children’s books about shyness and Books for talking to children about emotions.
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This is not a sponsored post, I have chosen these books because I genuinely recommend them. However, it does contain affiliate links which means if you click through to Amazon and buy one of the books I will earn a small fee. For more info, see Disclosure Notice.