Our Favorite Books to Ease the Back-to-School Transition

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With so much of our lives currently in flux, it’s no surprise that kids may be having a hard time with the back-to-school transition this year. Whether they are just returning to in-person school after a year of remote learning or they are heading to a brand-new school, stress levels can be high. We love the idea of incorporating some of these books into the bedtime routine. They talk about what it’s like to go back to school, validate anxious feelings and show kids that they are not alone.

photo: Mighty and Bright

Nothing Stays the Same (but That's Okay)

Every kid will face change: whether it's an illness, the pandemic, divorce, or moving schools. Author and child behavior expert Sara Olsher reminds kids (and their grown-ups) that it is actually okay. Facing our fears and the unknown is scary, but Olsher aims to give kids knowledge, the best defense against anxiety and fear. Whether it's a big change or something small, this book will help normalize the inevitability of change, giving kids the confidence that they can handle it. You can buy just the book or upgrade to a calendar set that gives children a visual aid for day-to-day schedules. Olsher has also written books about kids coping with divorce and illness. Ages: 4-10

Get yours here, from $3

photo: Nancy Paulsen Books

I Am Every Good Thing

Author Derrick Barnes captures the young and confident Black narrator of this book perfectly, demonstrating the pure joy of childhood where each day brings challenges and adventures. The exuberant and beautifully done illustrations by Gordon C. James make this book one that will inspire your kids to embrace their own beauty even if things aren't always perfect or they make mistakes, and stay true to their truth, even when they are misunderstood or called things they are not. Ages: 3-7

Get yours here, $12

Mitsy the Oven Mitt Goes to School

In this heartwarming and playful story from America's Test Kitchen, we meet Mitsy, a young oven mitt who has spent her whole life in the mitten factory. Mitsy is a lot of things, and one of them is nervous. But her first days at school bring together a diverse cast of characters, inspiring kitchen facts, and a story to empower kids so that when they, too, feel nervous, they remember that they can do anything.

Get yours here, $10. 

The Nervous Knight: A Story about Overcoming Worries and Anxiety

The Nervous Knight by Lloyd Jones gets kids talking about what causes them to be anxious. When we get kids talking, we can normalize these feelings and help them problem solve ways to feel better. 

Get it here, $14. 

Not Yeti

Monsters are loud. And rude. They like to smash things and they always need to be right. But not Yeti. Yeti is different. He bakes banana bread and sings to whales and always has a nice word to say. This book by Kelly DiPucchio gets kids thinking about the benefits of being different so that they can better anticipate this issue when school starts. Ages 4-8. 

Get yours here, $15. 

What If…? Answers to Calm First-Day-of-School Jitters

Young children can have lots of anxiety, especially when faced with something new, such as starting school. Luckily, Elmo and his Sesame Street friends are here to relieve those first-time jitters! This picture book by Sonali Fry helpfully answers common questions (What if I don't like my teacher? What if I don't know where the bathroom is?) to ease your little one's worries. Ages 4-6. 

Get it here, $10. 

My School Stinks!

You'll love this hilarious back-to-school story by Becky Sharnhorst told through journal entries about a boy who finds himself at a new school where the other students are REAL animals. Is faking an illness going to get him out of school? You'll have to read to find out! Ages 4-8. 

Get yours here, $15. 

Am I a Unicorn?

In her latest book, author Stephanie Sorkin teaches children the valuable lessons of embracing one's uniqueness and accepting others for who they are inside. The story touches on self-esteem and diversity, ultimately teaching the important lesson of accepting one's individuality. Ages 5-8.

Get yours here, $12. 

The King of Kindergarten

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story by Derrick Barnes is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. Starting school with positive energy is a great way to get past all of the new school year jitters. Ages 3-6. 

Get yours here, $11. 

Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel

Being different can be hard, especially when you are dealing with a nut allergy. This sweet story from author Stephanie Sorkin delves into this area in an easy-to-understand manner. Bonus: all proceeds from this book go to F.A.R.E, an organization dedicated to food allergy research and education. Age 4-8. 

Get yours here, $15. 

How to Be Kind in Kindergarten

From the best-selling author D. J Stenberg, here’s a guidebook in verse that shows children how to be kind in the new and exciting world of kindergarten. Helping out classmates and cheering up kids who look sad are great ways to make new kindergarten friends. Ages 3-5. 

Get yours here, $6. 

The Worrysaurus

It's a beautiful day and Worrysaurus has planned a special picnic. But it isn't long before a small butterfly of worry starts fluttering in his tummy. This book by Rachel Bright normalizes feelings of worry and helps to problem solves ways to make yourself feel better. 

Get it here, $13.

Zoey Has an Allergy

Meet Zoey, a sweet, smart, and spunky five-year-old girl who discovers she has a food allergy. Kids will learn along with Zoey what a food allergy really is, and why Zoey (and any kid) doesn't need to be ashamed. Kids with food allergies can have a hard time speaking up for themselves and keeping themselves safe. Not only will this book do a great service by boosting the confidence of children with food allergies, it will also foster compassion from teachers and peers to understand just what a food allergy means. As such, it belongs in every school and classroom library to help normalize and foster discussion around food allergies. Zoey is the first Black female character in an allergy book to display an anaphylactic allergy and the use of an epi-pen. Author Anisha Angella is an early childhood education and is a childcare coach, consultant, and specialist. Anisha has allergies and struggled with speaking up to keep herself safe, so she wrote the book she wished she had when she was a little girl. Ages: 3 and up.

Buy your copy here, $19



—Kate Loweth


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