5 Back to School Picture Books for the Anxious Child

Mia Wenjen

As the school year nears, I find that my kids are anxious about school no matter what grade they are going into. They are always the most anxious, naturally, about starting a new school whether it’s preschool, kindergarten, middle school, or now high school.

Reading books This post contains affiliate linksabout starting school is my strategy for calming their fears. I’ve picked five back to school picture books about starting school anxiety. I also have 10 Multicultural Starting School Picture Books and a list of Starting School Books that also covers the school day routine. I hope these lists help your kids get ready for school.

What is your favorite starting school book? Please share!


5.  Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly is a worrier and now with school starting, she is more anxious than ever:

“What if no one has spots?”

“What if no one wears stripes?”

“What if the teacher is mean?”

“What if the room smells bad?”

“What if they make fun of my name?”

“What if I can’t find the bathroom?”

“What if I hate the snack?”

In fact, all this worrying means that her stuffed animal’s ears are going to get worn out by all of Wemberly’s anxious rubbing. One more thing to worry about! On her first day of school Wemberly’s teacher introduces her to a new classmate named Jewel. She’s also wearing stripes. And holding a doll. And standing by herself.

By the end of the day, both Wemberly and her new friend are playing happily together. And they aren’t worried anymore!

4. Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells

Two of my kids had separation anxiety of the type that involves tears at preschool drop-offs. For kindergarten, her teacher and I plotted for her first week of school to be tear-free. Rosemary Wells understands the small dramas parent and child experience in everyday life and brings them to life with her Hilltop School classroom! Yoko is worried her mom won’t come back but her new friend Timothy assures her that parents “just keep coming back.” Her book series is balm for the anxious! (Picture book, ages 3 and up)

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

Starting school can be a time of anxiety for parents as well as children! In this gentle picture book, the child assures the mom that starting school is going to be just fine! (Picture book, age 3 and up)

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

My kids and I loved the Charlie and Lola series. Charlie is the best big brother ever and Lola is his spunky kid sister. Lola is worried about starting school so she tells her brother Charlie that she’s just too small for school and it’s really Soren Lorenson, her imaginary friend, who is anxious. Charlie assures her that school is worthwhile and gently persuades her that school will be just fine. (Picture book, ages 3 and up)

1. Sumi’s First Day of School Ever! by Soyung Pak, illustrated by Joung Un Kim

Can you imagine starting school for the first time ever and not speaking a word of English? That would be pretty tough, wouldn’t it? I think this picture book helps to allay kids’ fear of starting school when they realize that someone has an even more worrisome situation than they do. I also love that this book helps kids to develop empathy. It turns out that Sumi’s first day of school takes a turn for the better when she makes her first friend, despite not speaking English! (Picture book, ages 3 and up)



ABOUT MIA: Mia Wenjen blogs at PragmaticMom covering education, parenting and lots and lots of children’s books. With three kids ages 14, 12 and 9, it seems she is always anxious about one of her kids starting a new school. She would love to connect with you on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.



5 Back to School Picture Books for the Anxious Child by Pragmatic Mom kidlit children's books kindergarten