A Fresh Take: Back-to-School Books

It’s that time again! Many of our nation’s teachers are preparing their classrooms for the first day of school and so we wanted to share with you what some of our SEEC teachers are planning to include on their bookshelves this coming fall. Before school ended this past week, I interviewed several of our teachers to get their perspective on back-to-school books and here’s what I learned.
Duckling Book_1


Many of our infant and toddler teachers lamented that there weren’t a lot of options for their young students. They were opting for making homemade books like the one featured to the right that documents a trip to their new classroom. This group of toddlers will be going to a new center, so the teacher thought it was especially important to have something to ease into a new location. I liked that the book highlighted the children’s feelings and pointed out some exciting new components of the classroom. I guess you could call it an end-of-the-year book, but since it will be with them in their new classroom too it still bridges their experiences and offers them continuity.  Duckling Book_2

Many of our teachers also like to create individual books for their students that include photos of family, special events or things the child likes. These types of books can be a great source of comfort at any time of the year when they need a little extra soothing. They also help classmates learn about each other.


At least four teachers said to me that they weren’t necessarily looking for back-to-school books for September. Rather they wanted  books with which the children were familiar. Having these books were important because they built in a familiar component that would help their students feel safe and more easily transition to their new teachers and routines. This was especially true of the teachers in our toddler and twos classes. Here were some of their top recommendations.

  1. Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
  2. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See by Bill Martin Jr.
  4. The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Our current Kindergarten teacher shared that when she was teaching in Europe she stumbled across the book, Mommy in My Pocket by Carol Hunt Sendarak. She said she fell in love with the book and its story of a little girl who imagines shrinking her mother so she can accompany her to school. In the end, she realizes that she will be fine on her own as she carries the memory of her mother’s hug and kiss.

Our teacher, Cathryn, took the book a step further and had her pocketstudents bring in a photo of their moms/caretakers and adhered it to the shape of a person. The children were invited to “dress” the body by coloring in clothes. When they were finished, she attached it to a heart, which was then glued on top of a cut-out pocket shape. Finally, she attached yarn to the pocket so the children could wear their “caretaker pockets” like a necklace.

After their project was done, the class sat together and talked. She recounts that she would ask about their feelings or other objects that they might want to bring to school with them.


Many of our PreK teachers said they like to use the beginning of the year to teach about what makes their students special or unique. One PreK-4 teacher praised Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester for not only honoring everyone’s differences, but also just being silly. Another teacher suggested Ian Falconer’s Olivia because of how it embraces the character’s unique spirit – plus, it doesn’t hurt that the book showcases a visit to the museum where Olivia encounters paintings by Degas and Pollock – a very SEEC moment.


  1. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by David Henkes

Though not really about back-to-school, this book features the relationship between student and teacher and introduces children to the concept of having different perspectives.

2.  The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

This one is for the parents out there! It is a personal favorite that helped both my children transition to Kindergarten.

2.  Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton

3.   If  You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff

4.   Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois


Creating a cozy corner, can be as important as the books. Have fun creating a space that is quiet by sectioning it off from the classroom buzz. Use inviting colors, comfortable furniture and include soft, soothing objects. Such a space will undoubtedly help with those first day transitions as well as difficult moments throughout the year.

Hope these give you some fresh ideas! Happy back-to-school.