Back to School Books to Kick-Off a New School Year

Every time we look at the calendar we are shocked to see the summer is almost over and it’s time to start thinking about the return to school. What better way to get ready than with a list of back-to-school books for elementary-aged children?

Previously, we did a post that introduced going to school to your youngest child, but what about getting your older kid’s ready to head back?

Some kids look forward to the start of the school year while others dread the end of summer. Getting them ready to head back can be as simple as finding a funny book or two!

My personal favorites are those in the Wayside School Series. I use to laugh for hours reading them, but we have a ton of other fun books to get your kids ready for the school year!

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Back-to-School Picture Books

If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen has done it again with this outrageous book.  Jack is imagining how he would like his school to be from the cafeteria and classrooms to the gymnasium and playground. 

Written in his signature rhyme, this book with amaze everyone and should lead to a fun discussion about your child’s ideal school!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

A powerful story by a literary wonder about how it feels to be different, either because of your name, your language, your food, or your life at school.

But the day you begin to tell your story in your voice about who You are, the world opens up to welcome you and you find your place at school. I got teary-eyed reading it for the first time.

The Perfect School Picture by Deborah Diesen

Oh picture day, beloved by parents when the photo turns out well, complained about when hair or faces don’t turn out as expected.

This is a funny story for the kids who feel the pressure of picture day and just don’t want to perform!

I Got The School Spirit by Connie Schofield

I loved this story about a little girl who finds school spirit in all the actions of arriving to and being at school.

The use of onomatopoeias to describe the noises of her day and how the spirit sounds is truly wonderful for beginning students looking to expand their vocabulary.

My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown

A funny picture book by Peter Brown all about a boy who thinks his teacher is a monster, until he meets her at a park on fateful day.

Is Ms. Kirby a monster after all?

Time for School, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Little Blue Truck is back and this time he’s helping out the local school bus.

When a piglet misses his bus, Little Blue Truck steps in to get him to school on time.

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët

After a little girl watches her new classmate get bullied, she enacts a plan to welcome Vanessa and show her kindness.

This wordless picture book brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it. My son’s second grade teacher used this in her curriculum last year too.

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

This charming playground tale is simply adorable. It teaches playground behavior by showing what not to do.

Don’t hog the swings, don’t refuse to share the slide, and don’t act like you are the ruler of the playground or a battle of kings may break out!

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts

A cute story about how the smallest child in school can make an impact on the entire school community.

I love how this book shows even the smallest child can stand up to bullies.

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Do Unto Otters is an adorable tale of a little rabbit who doesn’t know to treat his new otter neighbors. Owl tells him to treat them as he would want to be treated.

While not directly about school, the ideas of manners and treating others with kindness is perfect for young children. My own son’s pre-k teacher always starts her year with this book.

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff

This series of books are completely hilarious.  If you take a mouse to school he’ll want your sandwich to go with it.  And so the story continues.  

Only this sweet mouse can innocently take all your school supplies and make school this much fun.

Click, Clack, Quack to School by Doreen Cronin

Those wacky farm animals are back, this time, at school! The Farmer teaches all the animals to be quiet and kind at school.

But when they

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.

A clever and funny tale about an underappreciated teacher who needs a break and a substitute teacher who is sent in to straighten the class out!

Pirates Go to School by Corrine Demas

Pirates head to school and they just can’t seem to understand the rules. If you have a pirate lover, they will adore this silly tale!

The funny illustrations are often poured over by my kids in the best way. This one is harder to come by, so check your local library.

Early Reader Books about Starting School

Eva and the New Owl by Rebecca Elliot

When a new owl comes to school and befriends Eva’s best friend, Eva becomes jealous.  Will Lucy and Evan stay friends?

Can Lucy and Eva both make a new friend?  This Branches book is the perfect book for growing readers.

Sink or Swim: Exploring Schools of Fish by Judy Katschke

The Magic Schoolbus is back with Miss Frizzle and the kids.  This early reader looks at an underwater ecosystem and endangered fish in Hawaii. 

There is sure to be an adventure with Miss Frizzle around. This is the first book in the series.


Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

Junie is going into Kindergarten and definitely has a knack for getting into some trouble.  

This series is perfect for new readers and will keep your little reader laughing.

My Weird School by Dan Gutman

This school has the funniest and weirdest group of teachers. This series is funny and engaging and perfect for early readers!

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

This Newberry Honor book is a classic from the 50s.  With an updated cover, Ramona is a beloved character that still resonates with children today.

The story is perfect for older kids to read alone or for younger kids to listen to at storytime. You can check out other Ramona tales here.

Chapter Books about School

The Wayside School Collection by Louis Sacher

Louis Sachar’s hysterical collection of stories about the students of Wayside School is a true must-read for students.

The wacky tales and backwards ways of the students and teachers at Wayside will have your child in a fit of giggles.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

This book was included in our best upcoming children’s releases a few years back! Kirsten got an advanced reader copy of this book and devoured it in one sitting.

The story is about books being banned at the library and a little girl who decides to fight back!

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

The kids in room 117 are all together because they have been deemed “unteachable.” Mr. Kermit their teacher seems like someone they will despise, but as the year progresses, the students outlook changes.

With rotating narrators and a lovely, if predictable story, this book is inspiring for all students.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

A must-read for kids in middle school, this is an amazing book about embracing differences, kindness and being yourself.  

August Pullman is a boy with an extraordinary facial difference.  He has been homeschooled his entire life and is starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep.  This book is amazing.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

Spy School might not be like traditional school, but the dynamics are the same. School hierarchies, teacher conflicts, oh and deadly assaisins.

This is a fun tale that science lovers or spy wannabes will enjoy.

Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

These hilarious books are graphic novels that are sure to keep your middle-grade student entertained with crazy antics and ridiculous situations.  

The lunch lady serves lunch and justice in the best way.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

This graphic novel has won numerous awards, and for good reason. This is a thought-provoking story of a 7th grade boy who wants to pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

Instead, his parents send him to a prestigious private school where he is one of the few diverse students. He can’t seem to figure out where he fits in at home or at school. This is a good one for kids who aren’t yet ready for Angie Thomas’s books.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My 3rd grade math-lover inhaled this book in 2 days. It’s all about a 12-year-old girl who was struck by lightning and became a math wiz.

She’s been homeschooled her whole life, but now her grandmother wants her to try to go to school just for one year. She has to make one friend, join one activity, and read one book that isn’t math related. Can she do it?

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a magical little girl who loves books. Stuck in a family that doesn’t value education, her life is changed when she meets Ms. Honey at her new school.

But the principal, Miss Trunchbull hates children. When she terrorizes the kids at her new school, Matilda finds the power to fight back.

What Back-to-School Books are you getting for your child? Is your favorite missing from the list?

The post Back to School Books to Kick-Off a New School Year appeared first on Beyond the Bookends.

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