1. Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth by Alison McGhee
A know-it-all second grader cows a wide-eyed first grader into believing the worst about her new teacher, telling her that Mrs. Watson is a “three-hundred-year-old alien who steals baby teeth from her students.” The first grader thinks she is in “big trouble,” as she has a loose tooth! She wonders if she can make it through first grade without opening her mouth. As she tries to do just that, the suspense builds and clever illustrations reveal her hilarious attempts to save her tooth from Mrs.Watson.
2. The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
You’ll only be able to start this one on the first day, but it will leave your children wanting more. The book tells the story of an amazing teacher who takes a small Alaska town by storm in 1948 and changes the lives of her students, including the narrator, Frederika, forever. Among other things, Miss Agnes gets rid of the old boring textbooks, encourages the students to create original artwork (which she then hangs up!) and enchants them with her tales of Robin Hood and Greek myths
3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert
The alphabet has never been so much fun to learn as it is in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. A great introduction to fin children’s literature.
4. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Embracing your identity is important and Chrysanthemum is faced with challenges at school because of her name. A gentle story about individuality and bullying.
5. David Goes to School by David Shannon
What is David going to get into next?! This delightful school tale is sure to ease the anxiety of even those youngest readers.
6. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
A reassuring story about a young girl who has the same first day of school anxiety as your students.
7. The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle
Your students will be giggling along with the crazy antics of the “gigglers” who watch over children. A smile and a laugh like this book will bring are two of the surest ways to ease anxiety and help students relax.
8. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
Teaching that the kindness you give away comes back to you is one of the most important lessons for children to hear at the beginning of the year. This book sets the tone for random acts of kindness and gratitude – two things that will make the school year amazing.
9. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague
This is an oldie but goodie. Teague tells a story from two perspectives—that of Ike the dog, whom Mrs. LaRue has sent to the Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy, and the real story. In one letter home, Ike complains that “the way my teach—I mean WARDEN, Miss Klondike, barks orders is shocking,” and the black and white picture shows a stern-faced warden pointing the way to solitary confinement. But, the accompanying color picture shows a different story, with a gentle teacher holding dog treats to happy dogs while Ike is sprawled at a table writing. Students love being “in” on the truth and might even enjoy writing their own “Ike” letters.
10. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Chester does not want to go to school, but after his mother shares a family secret with him his anxiety lessens. A gentle, comforting story for children who are nervous about being away from home.
11. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
What’s everyone doing to get ready for the first day of school? Find out in this adorable story by Joseph Slate.
12. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
What a pair Officer Buckle and Gloria make as they entertain students during safety presentations. Not only will the story make students smile, but it emphasizes how important teamwork is to success.
13. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean
“It’s all good,” according to Pete the Cat and that includes his new adventure at school.
14. Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith
Nip bullying in the bud with the story of Mean Jean who loves to boss others around.
15. Ruby the Copycat by Margaret Rathmann
Whatever Angela does, Ruby does too. Students get a glimpse into how being yourself is the best way to make friends.
16. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
What’s out there in the great unknown? Scaredy Squirrel does not want to find out, but he finds himself face to face with his greatest fear – the unknown. Children will relate to his anxiety, as well as the uplifting outcome.
17. Swimmy by Leo Leoni
Teamwork and ingenuity know no bounds when Swimmy helps his friends overcome their fear of danger. A great story to help build community in the classroom.
18. Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
A story that emphasizes the importance of a teacher who cares and makes a difference. A great segue into talking about teacher expectations and the pledge to help every student reach their potential.
19. There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar
A friendless, bullying, insecure fifth-grader as the protagonist? In this book, the unlikely main character learns to like himself and begins to open up to those around him. A great reminder that there is good in everyone.
20. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro
Forget the flies, this old lady is ready to go back to school and swallowing the things she needs to take with her. A fun, rhyming introduction to a humorous approach to school.
21. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
How can you blend in when you were made to stand out? August Pullman’s facial deformity and the reactions of those around him lend themselves to one of the most inspirational books about the courage to befriend others and the courage to be oneself.