Our Favourite Picture Books about Starting School

Ivy starts reception in September so in recent months we have amassed a lot of books to help prepare her for this exciting (and potentially nerve-wracking!) experience.

There are hundreds of books out there about this topic so I have put together a collection of our 24 favourites to help you choose the ones which are best suited to your own child.

Along with books which are specifically about the school experience, I have included titles which focus on other helpful topics like making friends, showing kindness and helping to ease any worries they may have.

We’d love to hear about your favourites too. What would you add to this list?

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I Have to Start at School Today by Simon Philip & Ged Adamson

The little girl in this story is very nervous of starting school. She has no idea what to expect so her imagination is going wild!

What if she arrives at the school gates to find an angry rhino who demands a password before she’s allowed in? What if there’s a selfish bear in her chair who refuses to move and then eats all the food in the canteen? What if there’s a babboon who drives her crazy playing his bassoon all day? Her mum reassures her that none of these things are going to happen but her cheeky older brother really isn’t helping.

Feeling sad and confused she turns to her grandmother who listens carefully to her fears and reassures her with a warm hug and some wise words. What if, just maybe, she goes to school and everything goes just right?

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King of the Classroom
by Derrick Barnes & Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Lots of books about starting school focus on the specific worries which your child might have about their big day. This fabulous book reframes those fears and the result is a story which fizzes with positivity and fun.

On a bright sunny morning a little boy awakens and prepares to start the day. Today is the first day of school and Mummy says he’s going to be the King of the Classroom. He brushes his royal teeth, dresses in his special school garments and settles down for a truly majestic breakfast. The school bus will be his carriage and the school itself will be his brand new kingdom.

He introduces himself to the children around him and asks them about their summer. He’s brave making new friends in the playground. He’s kind to those around him at lunchtime. He listens carefully to his teacher and approaches every new task like the King that he is. He has a truly wonderful day.

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Take Me to School by Mary Richards

We are big fans of Agnes & Aubrey so we were really excited to receive this gorgeous school journal in the post recently.

Split in to five ‘adventures’ the book gives you and your child the opportunity to record their very special school journey. Each adventure breaks down different aspects of the school day and is filled with fun facts and questions for childen to consider.

What does their school day look like? What do they wear? What books are they reading? What do they eat at lunchtime? Who are their friends? Can they remember the names of everyone in their class? Who is their teacher? What does their classroom look like? There are spaces to fill in the answers to all of these questions and more, along with spaces to draw or stick in pictures.

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Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

We are massive fans of the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam picture books so we were very excited to discover that there are chapter books too!

Shifty and Sam are two loveable dogs who used to live a life of crime. These days they are reformed characters who have swapped robbing banks for baking cakes and catching bad guys. In ‘The Spooky School’ they use their skills to solve a series of wacky mysteries.

Each of the books is divided in to three stories and each story has four short chapters which makes them perfect for bedtime reading. We’ll usually read two chapters per night but if Ivy is particularly tired we’ll drop this down to just one.

The stories in this volume are:

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Cheeky Worries
by Patrick Davey, Anna Smith, & Anne Wilson

Every now and again we receive a book which manages to completely take my breath away. It doesn’t happen very often (we read A LOT of stories!) but when it does I know that we have discovered something special. ‘Cheeky Worries’ is one of those books.

Finn is a little boy like any other. He loves having adventures, playing on the slide and going to parties – and most of all he loves to pretend to be the driver when he sits onthe bus. But then one day something strange happens…

As he sits in his favourite spot he suddenly has a scary thought – what if his mum got off the bus and left him behind? Later that night he starts to worry that there might be a monster under his bed, and the next day at the park he worries about what would happen if he slipped and fell off the slide. Finn is so consumed by these thoughts that he stops having fun.

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I’m Sorry!
by Barry Timms & Sean Julian

Scribble and Swoop are the best of friends and they love spending time together, having fun and pursuing their hobbies. Scribble enjoys writing and performing plays, whilst Swoop likes to build things with scraps of wood.

When the pair decide to set up home together they are very excited. They unpack their belongings and then sit in in the shade on their beautiful new veranda. As they sit quietly in the cool breeze, they each have a thought. Scribble thinks that the veranda would be the perfect setting for his plays, whilst Swoop is dreaming of turning it in to a workshop.

The next morning there’s a terrible squabble as the two friends argue over how they should use the space. Shouting ensues and they each stomp off in a huff.

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Slow Down Monkey!
by Jess French & Eefje Kuijl

It’s Monkey’s birthday and she’s planning a lavish party which she desperately wants to be perfect. She has asked her friends to look after the music, the cake and the decorations so she zips and zooms around the forest in a panic checking on their progress.

Unfortunately nothing is quite right, which sends Monkey in to a tizz. The birds are trying (and failing) to learn the drum beats she wanted, Bear has accidentally baked mud in to the cake and Tapir has got herself tangled up in the decorations. Monkey is in such a flap that she doesn’t stop to help. She just continues to swing around the forest, getting more stressed by the second.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Sharan Hartley-Sagoo, Founder, The Happiest Brownie

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

I’m Sharan, I’m 41.  I live in South Wales with my husband (Tommy) and our two daughters, Iona (5) and Ada (2).  I grew up in Bedfordshire, but moved to South Wales for University and have pretty much been here ever since.

During the day I work in Public Protection, when I’m not trying to home school.  When the house is quiet I am the Founder and Chief Baker at The Happiest Brownie, a postal brownie company.  Tommy helps me out a lot, I couldn’t do this without him. He makes sure that he keeps the kids distracted for long enough periods of time, so I don’t have to bake with a small child hanging off my legs, or shouting “Brownies” at me and standing there with their mouth open until food is given.  He is also chief printer.

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The Kissing Hand
by Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper & Nancy M. Leak

Chester the raccoon doesn’t want to go to school. He wants to stay safe at home with his mummy and his toys and books. Mrs. Raccoon draws him close to her and explains gently that sometimes we have to do things which seem a little big and scary. Although school might seem strange at first she is confident that he will grow to love it. He will make new friends, play with new toys, read new books and learn exciting new things.

Chester is unconvinced so she lets him in on a little secret – The Kissing Hand. She takes his hand, spreads out his fingers and plants a big kiss on his palm. He feels the warmth run right up his arm and straight to his heart. His mum tells him that every time he feels scared or lonely he just has to press that special spot on his hand and he will immediately be able to feel her love all around him.

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