Starting School

Bunny Braves The Day
by Suzanne Bloom

It’s the morning of Bunny’s first day at school and he has a long list of reasons why he definitely shouldn’t go. He’s too tired. He can’t find his underpants. His socks are too short. He thinks he might be coming down with a cold and it feels like there’s a giant frog jumping up and down in his tummy.

Fortunately his older sister is on hand to calm his nerves. As he rattles off excuses she talks about her own experience of starting school and assuages his fears. It’s fine that he doesn’t know how to tie his shoes because he can wear ones without laces. It’s ok that he doesn’t know how to read because the teacher will be there to help him learn. Although meeting lots of new children might sound scary he will soon make friends just like she did.

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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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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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Never Take A Bear To School
by Mark Sperring & Britta Teckentrup

If your child is wary of leaving you behind on their first day of school or nursery then this funny story might help calm their nerves.

There is one big rule when it comes to school – Do Not Take Your Bear. Why? Because bears just aren’t designed for the classroom! They cause panic in the playground, they’re far too big for the chairs and they gobble up all the food at lunchtime.

And you really wouldn’t want that level of mayhem on your first day of school because then you’d miss out on all the fun. A bear would distract you from making new friends, painting colourful pictures, doing your sums and listening to your teacher tell you a beautiful story.

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I Will Be Fierce
by Bea Birdsong & Nidhi Chanani

I love picture books where the words and illustrations work in opposition and ‘I Will Be Fierce!’ is the best example I have seen.

The pictures show a young girl moving through an ordinary day at school but the words are those of a fierce knight going in to battle, determined to make the world a better place. The result is a powerful narrative which teaches children that they can be the hero of their own story.

At the start of the day we see the protagonist don her armour (a stripy jumper), fill her treasure chest (a rucksack of books)  and head out in to the world. On her way to school she fearlessly faces monsters (dogs), giants (older children) and a dragon (the school bus). The day continues in this wonderful manner as we encounter more mythical beasts (like the Guardian of Wisdom – the school librarian) and battle against doubt and injustice.

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First Day at Bug School by Sam Lloyd

It’s the first day of bug school and the playground is full of tiny creatures nervously waving goodbye to their parents. They needn’t worry through, as Mrs. Bumblebee is there to steer them through their big day.

First comes registration then the bugs get stuck in to their classes, learning lots of interesting thngs which will help them grow in to confident little mini-beasts. The spiders learn all about human dangers (like water spouts, plug holes and vacuum cleaners), the crickets sing enthusiastically in music class and the ladybirds count each others spots in maths.

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The Tale of Starting School
by Natalie Talisman & Kirsten Taylor

Ivy is starting Reception in September and, I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit emotional about it. So much so, that when this book arrived in the post I had a little cry!

So far she is unfazed by the whole thing, possibly because she has been attending pre-school on the same premises, but I am still planning to dedicate some time over the summer to talking about what she can expect when she makes the switch to ‘big school’. This beautiful book  from Tales of Me is going to form the centrepiece of that learning.

Part primer and part scrapbook, ‘The Tale of Starting School’ takes you and your child on a journey through a big moment in both of your lives.

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