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24 Best Back-to-School Books: Preschool thru Middle School

Great back to school books for preschool, elementary and middle school kids!

One of the BIG things to do before school starts is to read a few books about the grade level kids are about to enter — it can really help kids to prepare for the coming school year. I know many kids have mixed feelings about starting a new school year — some are a little anxious about heading back to school and moving up a grade.


Books to read for First Day of School or Back to School - preschool, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade

24 Back to School & First Day of School Books

Here’s a list of AWESOME books to read at the end of summer or as your kids start in their new classroom. These are perfect for classroom read-alouds, at-home story time or just for kids to read on their own.

Books will introduce the possible experiences your child may have when they return to school.  Plus, it’s a great way to encourage kids to ask questions about their upcoming grade.

As a parent and educator, I can tell you that most kids don’t just come out and tell you about their back to school fears and concerns. Kids tend to hold things in and then the first week of school hits and you might notice them losing sleep, becoming more anxious or showing signs of nervousness.

We’ve listed a few options for each grade level from preschool through middle school along with affiliate links for each of our selections.  And if you’re in the throws of getting ready for the first day of school, be sure to grab your copy of the free printable Ultimate Back to School Checklist too!


Back to School books Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Back to School Books for Preschool


How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Tolen & Mark Teague

Preschoolers will enjoy this story of how dinosaurs get to school and what they do when they arrive. The book gives kids an idea of what’s acceptable to do at school — “would dinosaurs roughhouse and disrupt the class?  No!”  and what does a dinosaur bring for show-and-tell?  A fun & enjoyable read!


Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dowdney

An adorable book about how a child might feel when they first see their parent leave after school drop-off.  Little llama is sad to see Mama go, but his friends make sure to show him how fun preschool can be — and before you know it, Mama is back for pick-up and the day is over!  A reassuring book that discusses how young children might feel on the first few days of school.


Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois

One of the most loved characters, Franklin the turtle is starting school today!  Kids can read along to see that Franklin is a little nervous on his first day of school. But after reassuring words from his parents, and getting involved in first-day-of-school activities, Franklin learns that he will love school!  A popular choice for teachers to read the first day/week of school.


Best Books about Starting Kindergarten 

best back to school books kindergarten

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

I enjoy this book because it shows both sides of the first day of school – the teacher as she readies the classroom and the kids as they get read to go to school.  And it’s a great learning book – Miss Bindergarten has 26 students, each who’s first name coincides with the letters of the alphabet! The author also matches the first letter of their name with the type of animal they are (Adam is an alligator, Brenda is a beaver, etc.).  Not only with kids learn about kindergarten activities, they’ll also get some alphabet practice in too!


Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee

One of my all-time favorites as a back-to-school story! There are so many reasons to love this story – first, it’s a counting book (only 10 days until school!).  It also highlights a common issue for kids at this age – learning to tie your shoes 🙂  And the cat in the story is just so funny! Other discussion points that arise include listening to the advice of older kids, understanding that you’re not the only one who can or can’t complete a task and the fact that issues that may seem minor to adults can cause anxiety in kids.  A great read for kids and parents.


Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis

Sometimes kids are fine with starting school – but maybe they have a ‘friend’ or stuffed animal that they say is nervous. That’s how Dexter feels – he’s fine with starting Kindergarten but his stuffed dog is an “eensy teensy” bit scared.  Dexter talks about all the things his stuffed dog might be afraid of, along with how he would solve the problem.


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 Best Back to School books for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and middle school


Back to School Books for First Graders

Back to school books first grade

First Grade Jitters by Robert Quakenbush

Aiden worries about all the things that first graders might think of before they begin school – Will I have a friend in my class?  Do I know the math that the teacher will do?  His parents see that something is bothering him however, Aiden is reluctant to share that he’s worried about school. But when he has a meltdown while buying school shoes, he starts to admit that he may just have jitters about starting school.  In the end, his friends help to calm his fears.


The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing

In this funny take on ‘The Night Before Christmas’, Penny is about to begin first grade.  All is fine the night before as Penny gets ready for a new year, but once at school, she realizes that she and her best friend are in different classrooms!  Oh no!  A great story about making new friends at the beginning of the school year.


Junie B., First Grader (at Last!) by Barbara Park

Yes, I know she uses improper grammar and does some crazy things, but I love using Junie B. books as read-alouds for young kids!  This is a wonderful book to share because I’ll bet your child’s teacher has read a Junie B. book in the classroom.  And now that she’s in first grade, kids can ‘grow’ along with her. Of course, all the antics continue with a new teacher, some old friends and the fact that Junie B. needs glasses!


First Day of School Books for 2nd Grade

Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown by Paula Danzinger

There are many new issues that face Amber Brown as she begins second grade.  Not only does she have concerns about becoming a second grader, but things are also not well between her parents.  The story uses lots of words that have double meanings (a great discussion point at this age) and Amber experiences quite a few situations that can be openings to discussions about facing fears, growing up and taking care of yourself.


best back to school books 2nd grade

The Best Seat in Second Grade by Katharine Kenah

A great story for this age about patience and following the rules! Sam wants to be the Hamster helper but waiting his turn is taking a long time.  So, when the class goes on a field trip, he takes matters into his own hands. Great kick-off for discussions on patience, helping and responsibility. This is a book that many second graders may be able to read alone.


How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty by Nathan Zimelman

A great book to introduce the concept of money and how much things might cost as kids enter 2nd grade.  The class is trying to earn money for a field trip and Susan, the second grade treasurer, is keeping track of their progress.  I also love the story because it shows kids that they are now old enough to have responsibilities, such as being treasurer, helping to raise money and coming up with some fun ideas on how to reach their goal!


First Day of School Books for 3rd Grade

back to school books third grade

The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla

An older story but a classic about friendship and finding your place in the world.  Gregory has to move to a different part of town and start at a new school when his father loses his job.  The kids at his new school aren’t very accepting.  When Gregory starts exploring an old chalk factory and finds pieces of chalk, he begins to draw a chalk garden on the walls of the abandoned building.  A very good read for kids of this age as it talks about making friends, accepting others and appreciating people’s talents.


How to Be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey

Third grade is typically the year when kids start to tell you what’s “cool”.  It’s a normal part of child development – verbalizing their preferences, noticing what others like and declaring their independence. In this story, Robbie is trying to find ways to create a new image for himself (no more superhero underwear or walking to the bus with Mom!).  Chapters are very short so they can easily be read by kids.  And many issues are introduced such as bullies, gaining self-confidence and a yearning to grow up.


The Clue of the Left-Handed Envelope (Third-Grade Detectives) by George E. Stanley

Lots of kids begin to enjoy mysteries at this age.  Third Grade Detectives is a series of mysteries that also include secret codes and puzzles.  In the series, Mr. Merlin’s 3rd graders are also detectives who help solve cases (such as who is writing anonymous letters and how to find out who’s sneaking into the tree house).  Kids will enjoy working the codes as they read the story.  Another great option to read with third graders are these Books about Schools Around the World – it’s a great way to inspire cultural appreciation.


First Day of School Books for 4th Grade

best back to school books for 4th grade

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

A classic book for any fourth grader!  Peter must deal with the crazy antics of his younger brother (called ‘Fudge’) which are always embarrassing, his know-it-all neighbor Shelia, a mom who seems too busy to notice much and all the trials of 4th grade life.  Any fourth grader with a younger sibling will thoroughly enjoy this book and feel Peter’s ‘pain’ as he tries to live with a younger sibling 🙂  Lots of humor and discussion points, along with a few great lessons!


Who’s Afraid of Fourth Grade? by Nancy E. Krulick

Katie is about to start a brand new school year as a 4th grader, but new classes and new friends cause her some worries.  And then the magic wind appears, turning her into her best friend. Now she has to deal with 3 younger siblings, extracurricular activities and all the other problems fourth graders face. I really like how this book addresses the issue of juggling a variety of activities since many kids of this age begin to feel overwhelmed if their schedules get too busy.


Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee

Bobby gets himself into some (hilarious) trouble in his 4th grade year – stinky trees, running for President, and how to keep friends.  This is a great book because it introduces how boys and girls begin to like different things at this age, and how Bobby and Holly feel that they can’t really tell the other kids how they are friends (because they are a boy and a girl). Some wonderful discussion opportunities about how people grow to like different things but can still remain friends.


Back to School Books & Read Alouds for 5th Grade

back to school books for 5th grade

No Talking by Andrew Clements

Really, what’s back-to-school without a book by the amazing author Andrew Clements!?!  Kids just love his books. In this story, Dave reads about Ghandi and how he used silence as a calming technique.  Dave decides to give it a try and after an encounter with another 5th grade chatterbox, they cook-up a contest at school.  Kids can only answer using 3 word sentences – but other than that, they must remain silent for 48 hours!  Teachers are in an uproar but the kids are set on winning.  A very thought-provoking book that tells the story from the point-of-view of the students and the teachers.


President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston

When Brianna finds out that her hero was president of her 5th grade class, Brianna decides she too must hold that position!  But when she learns she’ll have some stiff competition, she must decide whether to run a fair campaign or resort to some not-so-nice tactics to win.  A great book for 5th graders as they begin to understand more about school politics and competitiveness among classmates.


The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman

What’s 5th grade without a little homework?  For four kids at Grand Canyon School, fifth grade starts to become a lot more fun once they create a homework machine.  But as things get out of hand and people become suspicious, the kids must decide how to put a stop to the madness. A wonderful read about honesty and ethics – fast paced and told from the point of view of all four students, this is a great book!


Back to School for 6th Grade & Middle School

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

How did four unlikely scholars become a winning Academic Bowl team?  The book, told in four short-stories (one for each member of the team), weaves together the lives of four individuals who each are searching for something.  When they wind up together competing for academic honors, they each learn more about themselves and the concept of a ‘team’.  A Newbery Medal winner and amazing story!


Never Mind!: A Twin Novel by Avi

Edward and Meg are twins – but how can two people who are so alike be so different from each other? What happens when Edward and Meg attend different middle schools and are apart for the first time in their lives just like they both wanted — well, the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ is a perfect way to sum up the feelings of the twins by mid-year! Lots of laughs and plenty of real life situations for kids to appreciate (even if you’re not a twin!).


back to school read alouds middle school

Schooled by Gordon Korman

When Cap, who has been raised by a hippie grandmother, has to attend a public school, he’s not sure what to think.  But don’t feel bad for the extremely confident 13-year-old who is able to (unknowingly) hold his own and show others that being yourself is always the best option.  An awesome book to encourage kids to be themselves and NOT blend in with the crowd.


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More Back to School Ideas

10 Ideas for Spending Time with Kids during the School Year

35 Free Back to School Printables

The Ultimate Back to School Checklist {w/free printable}


Looking to Get Organized for Back to School?

I highly recommend the Makeover Your Mornings e-course!

It really helped me to think about what I want to achieve early in the day and gave me TONS of free printables & ideas on how to get organized! 

It’s only 15 minutes a day and is perfect for helping you tame the chaos that happens with back to school time.