Books to read with young children about going to school

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The Pigeon HAS to go to School!, by Mo Willems

The pigeon has the same questions that children have as he begins school. What will happen at school? Why does the alphabet have so many letters? What if I don’t like school? This book will help your child ask their questions about school.

llama llama Back to School, by Anna Dewdney

Llama has had lots of fun this summer: swimming, hiking and being at home with mom. Now it is time to think about going back to school. First there is shopping for clothes and shoes. Then there is more shopping for backpack and water bottle. Now it is time to say good-bye to mama. It is also time to see friends and teachers. Children will begin to talk about returning to school and what and who they may expect to see, on their first day.

Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC Book, by Debora Pearson

This book has every truck from Ambulance to Zamboni, with a few Exit, Yield and One Way signs. Children who like trucks and cars will enjoying seeing the familiar trucks and will learn the names of different trucks.

How to pick a great children’s book

The selection of books is as important as the selection of toys. Young children have incomplete information for understanding the world around them, which results in what we often refer to as “magical thinking”: explanations for things that don’t make sense to adults. Magical thinking can make it difficult to know what’s going on in a child’s mind, and may lead to unexpected reactions of fear or stress.

Here are some thoughts about selecting appropriate books:

  • Look for pictures that may be scary to a young child. Is there a fire? Do the animals have long sharp teeth? Are there depictions of things that you know are troubling to your child specifically?
    Noreen Acierno


  • Is the vocabulary suitable? Are the words scary, like yelping, snarling and hissing sounds. Are there references to violence or antisocial behavior – fighting or throwing things?
  • Is it developmentally appropriate? Books for young children should be uncluttered and simple with a clear presentation of the important concepts. The first words that children learn are nouns – the objects of everyday life.

For more insights about selecting books and reading with young children, look at our original list of 100 great children’s books.

Book links go to Amazon and generate a small donation to Hanna Perkins Center when used to make a purchase.

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