14 picture books tell stories about going to school

Posted August 24

There’s a crop of new back-to-school books this year. Here are 14 picture books that teach about elements of starting a new school year, including learning new things, making friends and adjusting to change.

"OTTER GOES TO SCHOOL," by Sam Garton, Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

Sam Garton's "Otter Goes to School" takes readers into Otter's imaginary school. Otter knows her owner, Otter Keeper, is smart, and when she learns it's because he went to school, she decides to start her own school. She gathers Giraffe, Pig and Teddy to teach them math, singing and other topics. But when Teddy doesn't seem to excel at any of them, Otter doesn't know what to do to help her pupil learn his talent.

According to the book, Garton has been writing and illustrating the world of Otter and Otter Keeper since 2009 on the blog I am Otter: The Unheard Ramblings of a Modern Day Domestic Otter.

THE NIGHT BEFORE PRESCHOOL,” by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer, Grosset & Dunlap, board book edition, $6.99 (ages 0-3)

This new board book edition of one book in Natasha Wing’s Night Before series is full of sweet rhymes and Amy Wummer’s whimsical illustrations. It follows Billy as he nervously enters his first day of preschool. Although at first Billy is worried about being lonely, a kind classmate helps him feel more comfortable and soon he has friends all around the classroom.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CLASS PICTURE DAY,” by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer, Grosset & Dunlap, $4.99 (ages 3-5)

Another installment in Wing’s Night Before series, “The Night Before Class Picture Day” is a silly story about the work that goes into preparing for class picture day — and the single recess that can unravel that work in just a few minutes.

BEAR’S BIG DAY,” by Salina Yoon, Bloomsbury, $14.99 (ages 0-5)

Bear starts his day feeling like a "big bear" and is excited to go to school. But when it's time to color, eat a snack and take a nap, he's not so excited anymore. He misses Bunny and questions whether he's a big bear after all.

“Bear’s Big Day” is an installment in Salina Yoon’s Bear and Bunny series. The expressive, thick illustrations complement a story that teaches that growing up is a process. Just because Bear is going to school doesn’t mean he has to give up everything he loves from his childhood, especially his beloved Bunny.

FRANK AND LUCKY GET SCHOOLED,” by Lynne Rae Perkins, Greenwillow Books, $17.99 (ages 5 and up)

Lynne Rae Perkins’ clever, elaborately illustrated story follows Frank and his dog, Lucky, when Frank goes to school and Lucky goes to obedience school.

When Frank and Lucky are home and playing together, Perkins puts their exploits in terms of school subjects, from chemistry (How can Frank get the smell of skunk spray off Lucky?) to percentages (How much of the bed belongs to Frank and how much belongs to Lucky?). “Frank and Lucky Get Schooled” is a fun, informing story for older kids.

"A PERFECT MESS," by Steve Breen, Dial Books, $16.99 (ages 3-5, on sale Aug. 23)

Henry the rhino is constantly messy but on picture day, he does everything he can to stay clean. His efforts are successful but only at the expense of his classmates' cleanliness.

Author/illustrator Steve Breen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, and his illustrations bring the story to life. The book effectively portrays the theme of being happy in your own skin.

"TEACHERS ROCK!" by Todd Parr; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; $16.99 (ages 3-6)

"Teachers Rock!" by New York Times best-selling author Todd Parr reminds readers to be grateful for their teachers. It highlights the many things teachers teach beyond basic educational lessons, including creativity, kindness and friendship.

The illustrations follow Parr's usual style, which includes bright colors and a childlike quality. The book would make a great gift from a student to a teacher.

MILK GOES TO SCHOOL,” by Terry Border, Philomel Books, $17.99 (ages 3-7)

“Milk Goes to School” is a story about a carton of strawberry milk who puts on her sparkly backpack and her best hair bow for the first day of school. Amazing photographic illustrations and clever food puns take readers through Milk's first day of school, showing how she learns to get along with the other food kids.

"RUBY ROSE: OFF TO SCHOOL SHE GOES," by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Harper, $15.99 (ages 4-8)

Ruby Rose loves to dance. She dances from the moment she wakes up, as she brushes her teeth and while she eats her breakfast. So Ruby is alarmed when her mom tells her she will need to sit still in school.

Ruby gives dancing through her day a try, leading her classmates in a line dance on the way to lunch, twirling during art class and promenading through the library. Along the way, her teachers repeatedly tell her she needs to try being still. It's an adjustment for Ruby, but she learns to find a balance as she continues through her school day.

SOPHIE’S SQUASH GO TO SCHOOL,” by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (ages 3-7)

Sophie doesn’t plan on making friends at school; she’s bringing her own — two squash from her garden named Bonnie and Baxter. But as fall settles in and Bonnie and Baxter start to get old, Sophie gives human friendship a chance.

Anne Wilsdorf's hilarious watercolor and ink illustrations guide readers along and bring Sophie and her beloved squash to life.

"ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN," by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Laura Hughes, HarperCollins, $9.99 (ages 4-8)

Trish Rabe's "On the First Day of Kindergarten" is a spin on "The 12 Days of Christmas." Instead of partridges, gold rings and piping pipers, this book describes activities that take place in a kindergarten class such as field trips, bus rides and storytime.

The words of the book are simple and the topics relatable so children can quickly learn to sing the text to the tune of the Christmas carol. Hughes' illustrations have a rough, hand-drawn quality to them, which is fitting for a children's book.

"FIRST GRADE, HERE I COME!" by D.J. Steinberg, illustrated by Tracy Bishop, Grosset & Dunlap, $8.99 (ages 4-6)

Author D.J. Steinberg writes a collection of poems about first-grade experiences, from moving into the big-kid hall on the first day all the way through celebrating summer on the last day of school. Tracy Bishop's art brings a joyful feeling to the book.

SCHOOL’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL,” by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson, Roaring Brook Press, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

The first day of school can make kids nervous, but how does the school feel? This clever book explores a different side of the school experience by looking at things from a newly built school’s point of view. Engaging illustrations show the school as it fills with children, whom the school quickly learns to love.

"LOLA KNOWS A LOT," by Jenna McCarthy, illustrated by Sara Palacios, Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

Lola knows a lot of things: She knows how to tie her shoes, count to 10 in Spanish, use the remote and annoy her sister. Despite all the things she knows, Lola is unsure whether she's ready to go to school.

Sara Palacios illustrations bring Lola's world to life and are a combination of watercolor, colored pencils, cut paper and digital media, according to the book.



Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all