28 Best Back to School Books For the New School Year

Back-to-School Books
28 Best Back to School Books For the New School Year 36

Every time we look at the calendar we are shocked to see the summer is almost over and it’s time to start thinking about the return to school. What better way to get ready than with a list of back to school books for elementary-aged children?

Previously, we did a post that introduced going to school to your youngest child, but what about getting your older kid’s ready to head back?

Some kids look forward to the start of the school year while others dread the end of summer. Getting them ready to head back can be as simple as finding a funny book or two!

My personal favorites are those in the Wayside School Series. I use to laugh for hours reading them, but we have a ton of other fun books to get your kids ready for the school year!

Table of Contents

For more Back to School books and book lists, Click here.

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Back-to-School Picture Books
28 Best Back to School Books For the New School Year 37

Back to School Books: Picture Books

bitsy bat school star

Bitsy Bat, School Star by Kaz Windness

A sweet new school picture book for 2023! In this one, Bitsy Bat wants to fit in at her new school and make friends. She learns to celebrate differences. This one talks about school from an autistic perspective in ways all kids can understand.

If I built a school

If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen has done it again with this outrageous book.  Jack is imagining how he would like his school to be from the cafeteria and classrooms to the gymnasium and playground. 

Written in his signature rhyme, this book with amaze everyone and should lead to a fun discussion about your child’s ideal school! This is an amazing back to school book for preschool or kindergarten.

Language activity: Ask your child what they would like to see in a school they designed.

The Day You Begin and other Back-to-School Books

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

A powerful story by a literary wonder about how it feels to be different, either because of your name, your language, your food, or your life at school.

But the day you begin to tell your story in your voice about who You are, the world opens up to welcome you and you find your place at school. I got teary-eyed reading it for the first time. It is a wonderful back to school book.

Language Activity: Make a list of your child’s favorite things about themselves. Talk about how people are the same and different.

The perfect school picture

The Perfect School Picture by Deborah Diesen

Oh picture day, beloved by parents when the photo turns out well, complained about when hair or faces don’t turn out as expected.

This is a funny story for the kids who feel the pressure of picture day and just don’t want to perform! If you are looking for back to school books to lighten the mood, this should be your pick.

I Got the School Spirit and other Back-to-School Books

I Got The School Spirit by Connie Schofield

I loved this story about a little girl who finds school spirit in all her actions of arriving at and being at school.

The use of onomatopoeias to describe the noises of her day and how the spirit sounds is truly wonderful for beginning students looking to expand their vocabulary. This is a sweet pick from back to school books.

Language Activity: What are some onomatopoeias you use every day?

my teacher is a monster

My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown

A funny picture book by Peter Brown is all about a boy who thinks his teacher is a monster until he meets her at a park on a fateful day.

Is Ms. Kirby a monster after all? This back to school book is perfect for kids who may be a little bit afraid of their teachers.

LIttle Blue Truck

Time for School, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Little Blue Truck is back and this time he’s helping out the local school bus.

When a piglet misses his bus, Little Blue Truck steps in to get him to school on time. This is an adorable back to school book you and your little one will love

I Walk with Vanessa

I Walk with Vanessa by Karascoët

After a little girl watches her new classmate get bullied, she enacts a plan to welcome Vanessa and show her kindness.

This wordless picture book brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it. My son’s second-grade teacher used this in her curriculum last year too. This is not only an amazing back-to-school book but it’s also a great book to teach about kindness.

Why We Love This Book: This wordless picture book allows children to explore bullying in their own voice and teaches kindness.
Appropriate for ages 5-9
Find this book in: Books about Feelings / Wordless Picture Books / Back to School Books

I Walk with Vanessa and other Back-to-School Books

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët

After a little girl watches her new classmate get bullied, she enacts a plan to welcome Vanessa and show her kindness.

This wordless picture book brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it. My son’s second-grade teacher used this in her curriculum last year too. This is not only an amazing back to school book but its also a great book to teach about kindness.

rulers of the playground by joseph kuefler

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

This charming playground tale is simply adorable. It teaches playground behavior by showing what not to do.

Don’t hog the swings, don’t refuse to share the slide, and don’t act like you are the ruler of the playground or a battle of kings may break out! We love this pick from back to school books.

The smallest girl in the smallest grade

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts

A cute story about how the smallest child in school can make an impact on the entire school community.

I love how this book shows even the smallest child can stand up to bullies. This is another book about bullying from our list of back to school books. It is such an important topic to teach at even a young age.

Do Unto Otters and other Back-to-School Books

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Do Unto Otters is an adorable tale of a little rabbit who doesn’t know to treat his new otter neighbors. Owl tells him to treat them as he would want to be treated.

While not directly about school, the ideas of manners and treating others with kindness is perfect for young children. My own son’s pre-k teacher always starts her year with this book. For this reason, we wanted to include it on our list of back to school books.

if you take a mouse to school

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff

This series of books is completely hilarious.  If you take a mouse to school he’ll want your sandwich to go with it.  And so the story continues.  

Only this sweet mouse can innocently take all your school supplies and make school this much fun. This is a fun pic from back to school books.

Language Activity: see if you can remember all the things Mouse does in school.

Click Clack Quack

Click, Clack, Quack to School by Doreen Cronin

Those wacky farm animals are back, this time, at school! The Farmer teaches all the animals to be quiet and kind at school.

But when they get there, it might not be what they thought. This is such an adorable back to school book.

Miss Nelson is Missing and other Back-to-School Books

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.

A clever and funny tale about an underappreciated teacher who needs a break and a substitute teacher who is sent in to straighten the class out!

This back to school book is a classic.

Pirates go to school

Pirates Go to School by Corrine Demas

Pirates head to school and they just can’t seem to understand the rules. If you have a pirate lover, they will adore this silly tale! My kids often pour over the funny illustrations in the best way. This one is harder to come by, so check your local library.

Why We Love This Book: Of all the stories on the list, I think this is the one my kids read the most for a great laugh.
Appropriate for ages 5-9
Find this book in: Back-to-School Books, Pirate Books for Kids

A bad case of Stripes and more books about feelings

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

For little Camila, the first day of school doesn’t go according to plan when she wakes up covered in stripes! The reason? Camila is so worried about how people think of her that she breaks out in stripes!

Soon she’s not allowed to go to school, she’s being poked by doctors, and taking pills from experts, until a little old lady teaches her to accept herself and learn not to worry about what others think.

Why We Love This Book: It’s a great way to discuss self-esteem.
Appropriate for ages 5-9
Find this book in: Back to School Books / Children’s Book about Feelings

Early Reader Books about Starting School

Eva and the New Owl and other Back-to-School Books

Eva and the New Owl by Rebecca Elliot

When a new owl comes to school and befriends Eva’s best friend, Eva becomes jealous.  Will Lucy and Evan stay friends?

Can Lucy and Eva both make a new friend?  This Branches book is the perfect book for growing readers. This is a perfect early reader back to school book.

Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim: Exploring Schools of Fish by Judy Katschke

The Magic Schoolbus is back with Miss Frizzle and the kids.  This early reader looks at an underwater ecosystem and endangered fish in Hawaii. 

There is sure to be an adventure with Miss Frizzle around. This is the first book in the series that is a perfect back to school books.

Junie B Jones

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

Junie is going into Kindergarten and definitely has a knack for getting into some trouble.  

This series is perfect for new readers and will keep your little reader laughing. This is such a cute back to school book.

Miss daisy is crazy

My Weird School by Dan Gutman

This school has the funniest and weirdest group of teachers. This series is funny and engaging and perfect for early readers!

If you are looking for back to school books, this entire series is completely hilarious.

ramona quimby

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

This Newberry Honor book is a classic from the 50s.  With an updated cover, Ramona is a beloved character that still resonates with children today.

The story is perfect for older kids to read alone or for younger kids to listen to at storytime. You can check out other Ramona tales here. We love Ramona for back to school books.

Chapter Books about School

Wayside school

The Wayside School Collection by Louis Sacher

Louis Sachar’s hysterical collection of stories about the students of Wayside School is a true must-read for students.

The wacky tales and backwards ways of the students and teachers at Wayside will have your child in a fit of giggles. Of all the back to school books, this one is definitely a classic.

ban this book by alan gratz

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

This book was included in our best upcoming children’s releases a few years back! Kirsten got an advanced reader copy of this book and devoured it in one sitting.

The story is about books being banned at the library and a little girl who decides to fight back!

the Unteachables

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

The kids in room 117 are all together because they have been deemed “unteachable.” Mr. Kermit their teacher seems like someone they will despise, but as the year progresses, the students’ outlook changes.

With rotating narrators and a lovely, if predictable story, this realistic fiction book is inspiring for all students.


Wonder by R.J Palacio

A must-read for kids in middle school, this is an amazing book about embracing differences, kindness and being yourself.  

August Pullman is a boy with an extraordinary facial difference.  He has been homeschooled his entire life and is starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep.  This book is amazing.

Spy School

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

Spy School might not be like traditional school, but the dynamics are the same. School hierarchies, teacher conflicts, oh and deadly assaisins.

This is a fun tale that science lovers or spy wannabes will enjoy.

Lunch Lady

Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

These hilarious books are graphic novels that are sure to keep your middle-grade student entertained with crazy antics and ridiculous situations.  

The lunch lady serves lunch and justice in the best way.

New Kid and other Back-to-School Books

New Kid by Jerry Craft

This graphic novel has won numerous awards, and for good reason. This is a thought-provoking story of a 7th grade boy who wants to pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

Instead, his parents send him to a prestigious private school where he is one of the few diverse students. He can’t seem to figure out where he fits in at home or at school. This is a good one for kids who aren’t yet ready for Angie Thomas’s books.

Look Both Ways

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

I thought this middle-grade novel was a wonderful look at the problems facing young people. Each chapter is a different narrator telling a different story about their walk home from school addressing issues like crushes, bullying, sick parents, and more.

Each tale gives you a glimpse into the minds of the children in the neighborhood – the funny, the sad, and everything in between.

Why I Like It: I finished this story in one sitting and immediately told Jackie to give it to her son. I can’t wait to give this to my boys one day.

Find this book in Best School Books / Realistic Fiction Books / Short Stories

the miscalculations of lightning girl

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My 3rd grade math-lover inhaled this book in 2 days. It’s all about a 12-year-old girl who was struck by lightning and became a math wiz.

She’s been homeschooled her whole life, but now her grandmother wants her to try to go to school just for one year. She has to make one friend, join one activity, and read one book that isn’t math related. Can she do it?


Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a magical little girl who loves books. Stuck in a family that doesn’t value education, her life is changed when she meets Ms. Honey at her new school.

But the principal, Miss Trunchbull hates children. When she terrorizes the kids at her new school, Matilda finds the power to fight back. The Netflix book adaption of this one is a musical!

What Back to School Books are you getting for your child? Is your favorite missing from the list?

For more Back to School books and book lists, Click here.

Back to School Books

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