The activities you do with your students can make or break that first day back, especially for students who are nervous about starting the school year. Reading a story or two out loud to your new class of kids can help break the ice and get everyone looking forward to the upcoming year. Choosing the right books can also help introduce rules and values into your classroom culture that make everyone feel welcome. Here are the very best books to consider reading on the first day of school.

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1. Mr. S

By Monica Arnaldo

The teacher is missing in the kindergarten classroom! Instead of their new teacher, all they find in the classroom is a sandwich. Could the sandwich be their kindergarten teacher? This book is guaranteed to start your year off to a hilarious start.

2. The Crayons Go Back to School

By Drew Daywalt

Your students might be experiencing a range of emotions as they come back to school. This book is about crayons who are likely feeling the same things your students are feeling. Read this book out loud to help the kids understand that they aren’t alone in being nervous, excited, or scared on their first day.

3. The World and Everything In It

By Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes helps students understand that they are a key part of the world and that what they have to offer is essential. Read this book out loud to your students on the first day of school and you’ll be well on your way to building a healthy classroom culture where all students have an important place.

4. In Our Classroom

By Diana Schuda

This book will start your year off right by helping your students understand that everyone has a place in the classroom. As you read, the kids will learn what it means to be a kind classmate, how to show compassion for each other, and how to make sure everyone feels included and valued.

5. Ways to Make Friends

By Jairo Buitrago

Making friends can be tough, especially for students new to your school. Introduce your students to Toad, who has several methods for making new friends. The kids will learn that it’s also okay to be alone sometimes too.

6. The Whatifs

By Emily Kilgore

The what-ifs are sneaky little things that can fill a kid’s head with worry and doubt, especially on their first day of school. This book will help your students recognize their worries and fears and help them strategize to calm themselves and turn their worry into hope.

7. School’s First Day of School

By Adam Rex

Your students aren’t the only ones nervous about the first day of school! The school is also nervous about what the kids will do and whether they will be nice. This silly take on first-day jitters will help your students realize that everyone can be a bit nervous to start new things.

8. Your Name is a Song

By Jamilah Thompins-Bigelow

The names of your students are special, but some of them can be hard to pronounce. This book teaches children the importance of names, as well as the importance of saying each other’s names correctly. Read this book before a get-to-know-you activity or before taking attendance for the first time to encourage kids to let you know how their name is pronounced.

9. The Littlest Elephant

By Kate Read

Young children can easily forget that their classmates have feelings too. This book helps teach young children about boundaries and how to make sure they are respecting others and their personal space.

10. Little Yellow Bus

By Erin Guendelsberger

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The Little Yellow Bus needs to head out to pick up the children and take them to school, but he is nervous. This book teaches students that it’s normal to be nervous on the first day, but they can be brave even when feel afraid.

11. Our Class is a Family

By Shannon Olsen

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You and your students become a family for the short time you’re together. This book helps students learn how to make your classroom their home away from home.

12. A Letter from Your Teacher on the First Day of School

By Shannon Olsen

This book will help set the tone for a safe, inclusive, and caring learning environment. It takes the form of a letter from the teacher to the students to help build positive relationships and a welcoming classroom community.

13. The Day You Begin

By Jacqueline Woodson

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New beginnings can be emotional, and this book is a great way to start a new school year with new students. It teaches students that it’s normal to feel like an outsider sometimes while also showing that there are ways to make new friends and find their place in the class.

14. This is a School

By John Schu

This book shows children that school is more than just the building they go to learn. Read this book out loud on the first day and your students will learn that school is also a place to share with others and create an inclusive community where everyone is welcome.

15. The Smart Cookie

By Jory John

Cookie doesn’t feel all that smart when compared to all the other baked goods in the bakery, but over time she learns how to be confident in herself. This is a great book to help ease those first-day comparison jitters.

16. My School Stinks

By Becky Scharnhorst

Show your new students that friends come in all shapes and sizes with this funny book about a boy who accidentally goes to a school for stinky animals.

17. We’re All Wonders

By R.J. Palacio

Spread the word among your students that they are all special in their own way with this book. Essentially a kids’ version of Wonder (and written by the same author), the book shows children that everyone belongs, and that empathy and kindness are essential parts of your classroom.

18. Jabari Jumps

By Gaia Cornwall

Introduce students to a growth mindset from day one with this book that shows a young boy overcoming his fear of jumping off the diving board.

19. Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All

By Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, & Carolyn Choi

Along with math and science, teach your students inclusivity, justice, and compassion with this book.

20. How to Get Your Octopus to School

By Becky Scharnhorst

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Have a little fun with your new students by reading to them about an octopus who doesn’t want to school. It’s a silly way to start your school year that can help nervous students warm up to being back in the classroom.

21. I Got the School Spirit

By Connie Schofield-Morrison

The little girl in this story is pumped that it’s time to go back to school. She will get your students equally pumped with her school spirit.

22. Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School

By Carrie Finison

Little Tortoise is off to the first day of school with a backpack full of supplies, but she walks slower than so many of the other animals that she starts to worry about being late for the first day. Her new teacher, Mr. Sloth, helps her feel better. This cute little story is perfect for addressing the worries that go along with the first day.

23. All Are Welcome

By Alexandra Penfold

This sweet rhyming story shows students that all students are welcome in school no matter who they are. It’s a great way to help students feel included on their first day.

24. Hattie Harmony Worry Detective

By Elizabeth Olsen & Robbie Arnett

In this book, Hattie is really good at helping calm her friends’ worries, but when she starts to worry about the first day of school, she learns how to take care of herself. Another great choice for calming those first day nerves!

The first day of school can bring a lot of worry, but you can ease those concerns with a few of these vibrantly illustrated books geared toward your young students. Reading them aloud might help you with your first day jitters, too!

24 Best Books to Read on the First Day of School