Stories to prepare children for their first day of school

The first day of school can often be a stressful experience for both a parent and a child. We would definitely recommend reading picture books about starting school to introduce children to this new experience, it’s a huge milestone in their life! If you start reading now you will have plenty of time to talk to your child about their first day at school and give them opportunities to ask questions so that you or their new teacher can address any worries or issues that they may have.

Many stories about starting school include popular characters such as Lucy and Tom, Topsy and Tim, Kipper and The Berenstain Bears. We’ve listed some of our favourite starting school books here as well as other stories about school that we enjoy reading.

These picture books follow characters as they prepare for their first day of school…

Charlie and Lola I am TOO absolutely small for schoolI am Too Absolutely Small for School (Charlie and Lola) - Story Snug by Lauren Child: Lola is convinced that she doesn’t need to go to school so big brother Charlie talks her through the process and helps her to address her fears which include eating school dinners and wearing a uniform. Lola’s imaginary friend, Soren Lorenson, is very worried on the first day of school but of course he and Lola have a wonderful time!

Tom and SmallTom and Small - Story Snug by Clara Vulliamy: Hopefully you can find a copy of Tom and Small in your local library, sadly it’s out of print now. We’ve had our copy since my daughter was two and it’s still a favourite! Most of the story takes place during the night before Tom’s first day of school and reassures him that going to a new school will be a positive experience. Tom’s first day includes many traditional activities that take place in an early years classroom and he has so much fun that he can’t wait to go back again!

And the first day of school is here…

Spot Goes to School - Story SnugSpot Goes To School by Eric Hill: This is a very simple story that is also suitable for those who may be starting nursery or preschool. Eric Hill’s famous character goes through several emotions on his first day but by the end of the story he has convinced us that he likes school!

Lucky Wish Mouse Starting SchoolLucky Wish Mouse Starting School by Clara Vulliamy: This was (and still is) my daughter’s favourite story about a first day at a new school. It addresses small children’s fears and worries in a humorous way and includes one of the most fun and original classroom spreads that we have seen in a picture book.

Whiffy Wilson The Wolf Who Wouldn’t Go To SchoolWhiffy Wilson The Wolf Who Wouldn't Go to School - Story Snug by Caryl Hart and Leonie Lord: We love the way that Caryl Hart has succeeded in acknowledging Wilson’s insecurities about going to school and she has dealt with them in a very humorous way. Wilson thinks that school is boring but his friend, Dotty, convinces him otherwise and he has a lot of fun on his first day of school.

Not Without My WhaleNot Without My Whale - Story Snug by Billy Coughlan and Villie Karabatzia: It is only natural that you would want to take a friend with you on your first day of school but what if your friend is a whale?! “No problem!” says Arnold’s neighbour, Dora and despite the teachers’ disapproval the whale helps Arnold to make friends and have a really fun day.

Boris Starts School - Story SnugBoris Goes to School by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes: Despite his size Boris is still nervous about the prospect of starting school but Miss Cluck (one of our favourite picture book teachers!) helps to ensure that even a big brown bear can have fun. I absolutely love the classroom scenes in the Boris books, Tim Warnes has included so many wonderful displays on the classroom walls.

Archie's First Day At School - Story SnugArchie’s First Day At School by Emma Brown: It’s Archie’s first day at school. He takes his favourite toy, Bunny, with him but during the course of the day Bunny is involved in several ‘accidents’. Archie thinks that school is fun and looks forward to going again the next day but he decides that Bunny should stay at home.

Pirates Don’t Go To School!Pirates Don't Go To School - Story Snug by Alan MacDonald & Magda Brol: This story takes an amusing look at a little pirate’s first day at school. Jake’s family have heard terrible things about schools and teachers but can he convince them to let him leave The Salty Prawn and go…?

The Colour Monster Goes To SchoolThe Colour Monster Goes to School - Story Snug by Anna Llenas: The Colour Monster is going to school for the first time but he’s not exactly sure what school is! He’s scared of meeting his new classmates but soon joins in with classroom activities, has lunch and really enjoys his day.

Although not specifically stories about starting a new school these picture books show that getting things wrong at school is something that can happen to us all. Although we can’t be good at everything, we can all be good at something 🙂

Cactus AnnieCactus Annie - Story Snug by Melanie Williamson: To the dismay of her teacher, Cactus Annie gets everything wrong on her first day of school. However, on the following day, she proves that she has great cowgirl skills when the school’s cows are stolen by some pesky rats who need milk for their cheese factory!

ZogZog - Story Snug by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler: Zog must learn a variety of skills at Madam Dragon’s school but he often has problems with the tasks that he is given. Despite this he tries very hard and finds the perfect job when he finally leaves school.

What happens if the tables are turned…?

School for Dads - Story SnugSchool for Dads by Adam & Charlotte Guillain & Ada Grey: What happens when children need to teach their Dads how to behave?! We love this role reversal story which turns a familiar situation on its head and takes an amusing look at what happens when children try to improve their fathers’ behaviour. School situations are given amusing twists – the dads have fun at break time but are not so well behaved at lunchtime(!).

If you are looking for chapter books about school these are two that we really enjoy reading:

Sophie’s TomSophie's Tom - Story Snug by Dick King-Smith and Hannah Shaw: Sophie starting a new school is only one part of the story but it details her first day and the experiences that it brings. School plays a big part in the subsequent stories and many familiar school events and activities are included in the books.

The Worst WitchThe Worst Witch Story Snug by Jill Murphy: The Worst Witch is a fantasy and it’s very entertaining. Set in a boarding school for witches it’s the perfect prequel to reading Harry Potter. Young witch, Mildred is often in trouble but when she uncovers a dastardly plot to take over her school she thinks quickly and becomes the heroine of the hour!

We also asked book bloggers to recommend their favourite starting school picture books. You can read their recommendations in the following posts: Book Bloggers Recommend Starting School Picture Books – one / two

We would love you to tell us the titles of your favourite picture books about starting school or any other stories about school that you enjoy reading. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Our post Literacy and Numeracy Activities To Prepare Your Child For School also gives suggestions as to how you can help to develop your pre-schooler’s pre-reading and maths skills.

You can find more starting school book suggestions on Story Snug’s Pinterest board

First Day Of School Books - Story Snug

36 thoughts on “Stories to prepare children for their first day of school

  1. There are some fabulous books in this post! Very helpful, too! I struggled to find books like this when my children started school! I shall be recommending these to my brother for his daughters! #ReadWithMe xx

  2. What a great selection! All of my kids had a book when they started school, but they only had one each and we didn’t start reading them until a few days before they started. It makes sense to start earlier and read a bigger selection of books.

    • It’s lovely to give a child their own book about starting school 🙂 There are so many choice now and I think it’s really helpful to start reading starting school books a couple of months before a child goes for their first visit.

  3. What a great selection of books! I’ll save this and come back to it next year when my eldest will be starting. Nice to see The Worst Witch in your list, I absolutely loved those books when I was younger!

  4. The prize for the funniest book about first day at school should go to Monster by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Neal Layton. It’s a delightful story of how the family dog charges into the school too and causes havoc!

  5. So many fab recommendations here (we do love The Worst Witch and also Whiffy Wilson!)

    It’s amazing how soothing books like this can actually be if your child suffers from ‘school stress’ – C suffers from anxiety about going into school (she’s fine once there, just that act of ‘going through the door’ that causes her stress.

    But yep books are wonderful and this is a great article, good stuff Catherine!

    • It’s true that it’s not just new school starters that these books help. It can often be stressful even just going up a year and starting a new class with a new teacher.

    • You’re welcome, There are so many great starting school stories to choose from, I found lots more great picture books in the library the other day, I could write another post!

  6. Catherine, I’ll be saving this list for a special little girl in my life who will be starting school in three years. I still remember my first day of kindergarten. I was so excited – couldn’t get to sleep the night before, got up at about 4:00 in the morning, had so much extra time, brushed my teeth about a dozen times …

  7. What a great selection. Never thought of Zog as being an ‘about school’ book, but it obviously is! #MMBC

  8. What a great list of books about starting school. Jessica always loved Charlie and Lola books although we’ve not read that particular one. Zog is a big favourite here. Sophie’s just finished reading Sophie’s Tom and we have the Worst Witch series for her. #MMBC

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