For those parents who are looking for picture books that will help their child with the transition into school we have more picture book recommendations from book bloggers who have also experienced the first day of school as parents. Thank you to Phil (and his daughter Charlotte), Loll, Anne-Marie and Damyanti for recommending the picture books that helped you with the start of school.
‘This lovely book by the Ahlberg dream team follows a group of eight children as they journey through their very first term at school. Immediately this is a book that many children will be able to relate to, as there are non-white children with their families; there are dads doing the school run; there are grandparents as carers; there are many varied combinations of sibling groups. Brilliant start!
The story is split into little sub-sections, with headings like ‘The First Day’, ‘The First Week’ and ‘Time Goes By’. It’s nice to see a book that covers a whole term, as one of the issues I’ve come across with C and his friends is that school is all very well – and often lots of fun – for the first week but loses a little of its magic when they realise that this is ‘it’ now and they’ll be going to school for the foreseeable future!
In terms of the small details, the book gently but effectively introduces children to all the new things they might come across at school, even down to the small touches like banging your knee in the playground. It gives ample opportunity for discussion and is a book that can be dipped in and out of easily. We read it countless times and would highly recommend it!’
‘These days, in the UK at least, many children are in a childcare setting from before a year old, so ‘the first day of school’ is more of a change of setting than a completely new thing. Harry and the Dinosaurs Go To School approaches this with Harry starting a ‘new’ school, along with his friend Charlie. Charlie is a girl, and there is a wonderful mix of genders and races depicted happily interacting throughout the book. I love Harry and the Dinosaur books, the pictures are beautifully observed (I especially love little touches like how bellybuttons become exposed as children raise their arms!), and the text covers normal family life (including sibling rivalry) in a realistic and positive way. In this story, Harry notices another boy being really quiet in the class, and with the help of his dinosaurs, they become friends. All the Harry books are lovely, covering a variety of issues, and are suitable from a very young age, but are still enjoyed by my 7 and 5 year olds (and me!).’
Phil and his daughter Charlotte, the team from Readitdaddy, recommend Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton.
‘At ReadItDaddy we like books that perform a dual role. In the case of ‘Splat the Cat’, you have a book that subtly reassures children about their first time at “big school” while providing chuckles and giggles along the way. We took to Rob Scotton’s brilliant moggy almost immediately, and quite by accident I ended up adopting a strong brummie accent for Splat when reading aloud.
It’s Splat’s first day at school and he’s thinking up all sorts of excuses not to go. His hair is messy and he can’t get his socks on. Luckily his best friend Seymour is on hand to help Splat get through the day. Splat soon settles into Miss Wimpydimple’s class and has a million and one questions (yep, that has a real ring of familiarity about it!) and learns an awful lot about cat behaviour. But this business about chasing mice? Can that really be right? As the story progresses, children will see that Splat has a lot of fun at school and that mum really DOES come back as promised at the end of the day.
There are lots and lots of books that go into more detail about that first school day, almost drily regurgitating what children can expect from it – Rob Scotton turns that on its head a little bit with a feline view of things but the subtle reassurance and reinforcement of things like friendship and satisfying a child’s curiosity are nicely threaded through an entertainingly comic tale.
Most of the other ‘Splat’ books are also brilliant (though the later ones are a bit ‘by the numbers’ alas) but we adore this first Splat tale. It’s thoroughly recommended if your little ones are about to make that first big step up to big school, whether their tails are wiggling wildly with worry or not!’
You can read Phil and Charlotte’s full review here.
Damyanti from Overdue Books says that her son loved reading Welcome to Alien School by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves before he started school.
‘Starting school can be a daunting new experience however the comfort of an old familiar character, in this case Albie, provides a helpful support.
‘Welcome to Alien School’ written by Caryl Hart and illustrated by Ed Eaves was a particular favourite in our house. We always enjoy Albie’s fantastical adventures and in this story he is rocketed into space for an extraordinary school day. The story touches on some common worries about starting school such as making new friends and feeling out of place but is also full of humour, silliness and plenty of excitement. A fun and gentle introduction to the idea of school.’
You can read Damyanti’s full review here.
A child’s favourite starting school book can also be valuable when the child is older or when they have to cope with a change of teacher or class, revisiting a book that they have previously enjoyed can help to comfort them on those days when they’re a bit uncertain.
Ciara, a teacher and mum, from Our Little House in the Country has written a great blogpost ‘Preparing your child to start school – 20 tips for a smooth transition and happy start to school‘. She has lots of useful suggestions to help parents and their children get ready for the big day.
Thank you to you all for taking the time to contribute to the post, thank you also to Zoe and Carmen who recommended their favourite starting school picture books in ‘Book Bloggers recommend starting school picture books (1)‘.
Do you have any starting school picture books that you would like to add to these lists? I’d love to see more suggestions in the comments.