As the summer nights are getting shorter, and parents begin to buy rulers, pencils, and lunch boxes, children may have some jitters about their first day back at school. It’s all a very exciting time of the season, yet often stressful for both parents and children. At Stratford School, we encourage reading with children at every age and stage. Reading to and with young children helps to ease their anxiety and allows them to open up about their feelings. After reading to your child, take time to talk, ask questions, and make sure she knows that other children share the same concerns and uneasy feelings about the first day of school. 

Here are some book recommendations that will help encourage children to feel positive about heading back to school in the fall. 


David Goes to School by Caldecott Medal winning-author David Shannon

David finds out what the consequences are to his many actions in this nearly wordless book that is perfect for any student who is wondering what kindergarten might be like. This book is a great way for parents to discuss rules, why teachers have them, and why it is important to follow them. Mr. Shannon has a whole series of colorful, silly books about David, and each of them has his West Highland terrier, Fergus, hidden somewhere on a page. 

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Blue is a quiet color. Red’s a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand—until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count.” Powerful understated artwork teaches our young ones not only about colors and numbers but the importance of standing up for our friends against bullies. One contains important lessons about being yourself and making sure everyone counts. Check out the prequels and sequels to this book by this amazing award-winning author, Kathryn Otoshi. 

1st and 2nd Grade

My Weird School (series) by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot

With titles like, “Miss Daisy is Crazy!”, and “Miss Hannah is Bananas!” students will have fun with these silly chapter books. The stories are about a second-grade boy named A.J., who might possibly be a bit nervous about school, so he pretends that he hates it. The humorous, simply written stories, get their zest largely from A.J.’s lively, first-person commentary on school life and legend. The chapters are short and have cute illustrations, which is perfect for reluctant readers. 

Third, Fourth & Fifth Grade

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Capricorn, 13, lives with his hippie grandmother on a farm commune. He’s never been to school, never watched TV, and doesn’t even own a cell phone. When his grandmother falls out of a tree while picking plums and is sent to rehab for several weeks, Cap stays with a social worker and is sent to the local middle school. There he is introduced to technology, spitballs, and harassment. The use of multiple perspectives allows the reader to visualize the plot, and more specifically the conflict, from several different angles—even allowing readers to better understand unlikeable characters. Each character adds a new depth and dimension to Cap’s situation, allowing the reader to feel as if they are apart of Cap’s middle school experience—as scary as that is!

Middle School

Booked by Newberry Award winner Kwame Alexander

Soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read. This story is perfect for every teenager trying to figure out how to adapt to the unexpected challenges of life at home and at school.  

Happy reading and have a great first day back to school!