Top 10 Starting School Books: Kindergarten & Preschool

Starting Kindergarten and Preschool Books

A reader asked me to help her round out her list of books for incoming Preschoolers.  I searched, and there are not tons of them.  I decided to combine this with entering Kindergarten because in September, my youngest child will start Kindergarten. I feel that you can use the books somewhat interchangeably and that books that your child enjoys will be a more important factor than whether the book aligns exactly with his or her school entry point.

With regard to my youngest entering Kindergarten, I’m not that sad about that.   I’m sadder that he is elongating and losing his baby chubbiness in his face and legs.  I made the mistake with my middle child thinking that she’s been to elementary school so much as a tag-along that she’d have no anxiety or transition issues.  But a transition to a new grade or school, not matter how small, is still difficult for children.  It’s helpful to visit the new school as often as possible.  Play with kids that will be at the same school if you can.  And read, read, read to your child books about starting school.  The familiarity of routines and activities of the new school will take a lot of the anxiety away.  So, while my youngest has been visiting his elementary school for 5 years so far, we’ll take it one step at a time and read these books over and over to ensure a smooth landing in September.  And a few play dates with new friends is also on the books!

p.s. I also have a post on Getting Kids Ready for Kindergarten Activities with great advice from an Occupational Therapist and Has Kindergarten Changed or Are Kids Smarter from Harvard Education Letter.

Honorable Mention

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by by Audrey Vernick and Illustrated by Daniel Jennewein

Your buffalo is growing up. He plays with friends. He shares his toys. He’s smart! But is he ready for kindergarten? (And is kindergarten ready for him?)

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? is a hilarious look at first-day-of-school jitters from author Audrey Vernick and illustrator Daniel Jennewein.

Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum

It’s a child’s first day of kindergarten, but who is worried about all the new people and the different things he’ll meet–the child? No! The mother. In a refreshing reversal of roles, the child takes it upon himself to comfort and reassure his mother that everything will be fine, she’ll get used to him going to big-kid school, and yes, he is ready for the first day of kindergarten. Utterly charming in its simplicity, Yum playfully uses size and color to reveal emotions of this milestone beginning.

10. Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells

Yoko has trouble separating from her mother during the first week of school, but her new friend Timothy helps her to understand that mothers “just keep coming back!”

9. Welcome to Kindergarten by Anne Rockwell

At first, everything seems so big and overwhelming, but after going over the routines of Kindergarten it feels just right to the little boy in the story.  A sweet and gentle depiction of the routines of Kindergarten.

8. Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come by Nancy Carlson

Henry the mouse is so excited about starting kindergarten .. .that is, until he walks through the door to class.  But as he recognizes all the things he talked about and made a new friend, he realizes that Kindergarten is going to be fun!

7. My First Day at School by Ruth Wickens

My kids liked this book because it’s a pop-up book and it talks about the first day of preschool with a little boy learning about all the wonderful options of fun things to do at preschool as well as the routines.  My kids liked to read this book well into preschool just to compare what is the same and what is different about their preschool.

6.  Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Ashley Wolff

A glimpse about what the teacher does to get her classroom ready for the kids in her class!  It’s not all nicely set up and attractive to kids by accident!

Sumi’s First Day of School Everby Soyung Pak.

Sumi doesn’t speak English and today is her very first day of school ever.  Will it go well?

4. D.W.’s Guide to Preschool by Marc Brown

D.W. is an old-hand at preschool and is reassuring about how much fun it is!

3. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly is a worrywart and she is especially worried about starting school.   It turns out that her teacher is really nice and encourages her to make a new friend who is very similar to Wemberly.

2. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child

Lola thinks she is “too absolutely small for school” because she is a little nervous about starting school.  Or is it Soren Lorenson, her invisible friend, who is nervous?  But all is well when she makes a new friend the first day.  Lola is her usual delightful and funny self!

1. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

The sweetest story ever about the magic of kisses to help with separation anxiety!

And for 100th Day of School:

Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit by Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

Celebrate the 100th day of kindergarten with this adventure in space picture book. In just 100 days of school, kindergarteners have learned so much! Use this book of space achievements to connect to what students have done in class. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

To examine any book at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Kimberly Schaeffer

    Excellent Suggestions! Thanks so much! I really liked “Sumi’s First Day of School Ever” because it helps young children identify with other children who may still be learning (and even struggling with) the English language. I never thought about it before, but Sumi’s story is one that I have heard many times from friends that came from Mexico, Bulgaria, Vietnam, etc. So, thank you again for another excellent post! Komapsumnida!

  2. Love it, I’m linking up!

  3. Great post and all wonderful suggestions. The Kissing Hand is a family favorite.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Little Sprout Books – isn’t it funny how each of us had a unique list? I think there are so many great books out there, it’s always hard to pick a top ten, but I love that The Kissing Hand made both lists. You (and your readers) might enjoy my choices.

  5. Anita Coleman

    I am wondering if you could give me some literature suggestions for fiction and non-fiction books from Asia. We love The Magic Tapestry and Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi and Tikki Tikki Tembo. I do a continent study in K and rotation stations with books before we pin-punch around a template of each continent for a year long developed world map. Thanks for your suggestions!
    Anita Coleman

    • To Anita,
      I have Top 10 lists for Chinese American Children’s Books, Korean American Children’s Books ( and Japanese American Children’s Books (

      Some of my favorite picture books: Demi, The Greatest Power talks about inventions and achievements of the Ancient Chinese, Zen Shorts by Jon Muth speaks to Chinese philosophers but in a way children can relate to, The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong speaks to the art of Ancient China and would lend itself to an art project painting using Chinese Caligraphy brushes, Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully talks about martial arts and the art of self-defense.

      For Sri Lanka, Tea Leaves by Frederick Lipp. For Vietnam, The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland. For Japan, I love Rosemary Wells, Yoko’s Paper Cranes which has gorgeous artwork. For Bangladesh, A Basket of Bangles by Ginger Howard and Cheryl Kirk Noll. For Korea, Count Your Way through Korea by Jim Haskins.

      My kids and I LOVED Tiki Tiki Tembo too! We loved chanting his name. I hope this helps!

  6. btw I recommend to check out – some positive interesting stuff , bye. Top 10 Stories of 2012 Countdown – Story #10 – 177 Messages of Kindness

  7. Thanks for the heads up on the “Has Kindergarten Changed or Are Kids Smarter?” article. I’ve always thought all that competitive child development talk was getting more and more exaggerated, and it’s nice to see a study that reiterates some sanity. Kids need time for their brains and bodies to sync up, and those who try to put so much pressure on them to develop into little geniuses really need a reality check.

    • Hi Chris,
      I think it’s because of the Standardized Testing in 3rd grade that puts pressure on elementary schools to get kids reading and doing math in Kindergarten. I know my Kindergarten teachers felt that kind of pressure even though the kids are not testing as K’s.

      But I agree with you that less pressure is better!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Summer Reading Fun and Giveaway from GenZ!My Profile

  8. Great collection! We are great Charlie and Lola fans but haven’t come across that one before – must look out for it in the library.

    I will be featuring your post at Empty Your Archive this week, thank you so much for sharing, Alice @ Mums Make Lists

  9. There are so many great starting school / kindergarten book blogposts at the moment. We love the Charlie and Lola story and I have heard so much about The Kissing Hand that I really want to read it now!
    Catherine recently posted…Book bloggers recommend starting school picture books (2)My Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge