A Mighty Girl's favorite picture books about Mighty Girls starting preschool, kindergarten, and first grade.
The first day of school is exciting, but it's also a little nerve wracking, even for the bravest of Mighty Girls! For kids starting preschool or kindergarten, the big questions are likely to be about what school is like, how they'll manage missing Mom and Dad, and whether they'll make friends. Children moving up to first grade may also wonder if they're up for the increased expectations and bigger challenges that come with no longer being brand new to school.
Fortunately, there are some great picture books out there to help reassure kids that they can handle whatever comes their way at school. These books provide helpful tips in age appropriate ways — and equally importantly, get kids giggling about how the Mighty Girls in the stories get through their own first days at school.
For books about Mighty Girls and the special teachers in their lives, check out our blog post, Honoring Educators: Books About Mighty Girls & Their Teachers.
Books About Starting Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade
Let beloved author / illustrator Todd Parr help prepare your Mighty Girl for school! On a school day, make sure to get dressed and have a good breakfast so you can all go to school together. There are lots of new people to meet and lots of exciting things to learn. While you're in the classroom and on the playground, you'll be welcome there — and it's your job to share and help welcome others, too. This empowering and child-friendly book about the routines and community of school will speak to kids, whether they're anxious or excited for their first day.
Lena is ready for kindergarten (of course) but she has a problem: her favorite shoes, which she explains to her patient father are critical for her first-day outfit, are too nervous to go! As Dad looks on, Lena comes up with some tactics to convince her shoes to go: she enlists her headband (who is "friends with everybody") to help her talk to her shoes about their fears and remind them that, together, they can all be brave enough to try something new. This clever and funny take on school nerves allows its main character to stay competent and in control, while still providing useful techniques for dealing with human first-day jitters.
Ming is ready for school! She's ready to use paint and glitter and glue; to meet new friends; to build sandcastles and make snow angels. And while she's brave enough to stick her hands in the mud to touch the worms, she's not quite ready to go down the big red slide on the playground... yet. With the encouragement of her friends, teacher, and family, though, it's only a matter of time! This gentle confidence-building story, with its short sentences and soft, evocative watercolor illustrations, is sure to help kids feel ready for their first preschool day.
Pearl is the smallest ballerina at her mother's ballet school, but she loves practicing dance moves (at a barre she can't even reach) with her stuffed mouse Violet by her side. But when her mother suggests Pearl could try preschool, Pearl isn't sure. "Violet and I already go to school," she says. But Pearl's mother answers her questions about what this new experience would be like. pointing out that she will learn fun new things, like the alphabet, and counting, and even how to paint a sugar plum fairy! — and Pearl concludes that she and Violet are ready for preschool after all. This charming picture book, with its winsome illustrations, looks at the transition to preschool through a child's eyes in a way that's perfect for budding dancers!
It's almost Lola's first day of school, and she can't wait! She's visited the school with her mother, so she knows it "will be a bit like story time at the library, but Lola will stay by herself." When the big day comes, she wears her special first day outfit, gets a quick picture, and heads off with a backpack full of special gifts from her loving family — and before she knows it, it's time to greet Mommy again at the end of the day! This charming addition to the beloved Lola Reads series is the perfect read for soon-to-be preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Sometimes it's not the kids who are nervous about the first day of school! In this clever story based on the poem "The Night Before Christmas", all the kids are full of excitement, anticipation... and a few worries. But on that first morning, the kids are ready to face a day full of adventure — it's the parents who shed a few tears! Fortunately, they're mostly tears of joy as the proud moms and dads watch their big girls and boys head in through the classroom doors.
Many kids find it hard to be away from parents for the first day at school, especially if Mom or Dad was their full-time caregiver. Eliza's mom slips a kiss into her pocket on the first day of kindergarten, but it isn't much comfort when Eliza finds herself missing home during a long first day. But then Eliza starts noticing things that remind her of her mother — everything from blue buttons to a clump of yarn — and at craft time, this resourceful Mighty Girl puts the pieces together to make something that will help her through the day. When Mom comes to pick her up, Eliza is delighted to have a special surprise to show her and to discover a surprise from her mother in return.
Daisy has grown up with an adoring family; in the eyes of her father, her mother, her grandma and grandpa, her uncles, and even her neighbors, Daisy is wonderful. And they encourage her to "go be wonderful" wherever she goes, whether it's banging on pots and pans like drums, or riding a scooter to the library. But when it's time to start school, Daisy doubts herself; can she still be wonderful in an unfamiliar situation? It turns out the answer is yes! While the school day has its ups and downs, she remembers to share, she makes a friend, and when she comes home, she shouts "I was wonderful!" This exuberant book celebrates the power of unconditional love to build confidence, perfect for encouraging kids to "go be wonderful" on their own school adventures.
Mona is excited for the first day of the new school year — and her little brother Milo is curious. "What do you do at school?" he asks. Mona fills him in on all the details: riding a bus, sitting still and listening, learning about science, and more. And as she does, Milo realizes that he already does many of the same things when he plays in their backyard! This charming and reassuring book will speak to both eager and anxious soon-to-be students, and also reminds kids of the joys to be found in the great outdoors.
No matter how much Mae's parents try to convince her that she'll love school, all she can imagine is everything going wrong. So when she walks to school, instead of going in through the front door, she hides in a big tree. It's not long before another nervous girl, Rosie, joins her... and then, to Mae's surprise, so does an adult, Ms. Pearl, who asks, "What if the kids don’t like me? Or what if I forget how to spell Tuesday? Or what if I miss my cat?" It turns out that, with a little support from each other, all three are able to get started on their first day. This funny book still treats these common fears with respect, but reminds kids that, together, they can conquer any fear.
Clover Kitty loves calm and quiet, even though she admits home can be a bit lonely. So when she arrives for her first day of kittygarten, it's just as overwhelming as she feared: the lights are too bright, the teacher's handbell is loud as a gong, and other students keep getting into her "purrrsonal space." Even when a kind classmate named Oliver notices her distress, she's so upset she can't even talk. In fact, she quits kittygarten altogether! Her strike lasts for three days — but when Oliver comes to check on her, she starts to wonder if there might be a way she can enjoy the friendship she'll find in kittygarten while still managing the overload and setting the boundaries she needs. This empathetic book about the struggles that sensory-sensitive kids face at school is also a reminder of the power of a caring friend to help you through tough moments.
Sometimes, the nerves don't set in until after a Mighty Girl hits a snag. Dinosaur-loving Ally is hoping to meet some like-minded friends at school, but instead, she finds she's alone in her interest. Worse yet, a trio of princess-loving girls turn up their nose at her ferocious ways! But as the nerves of the first day slowly fade, the imaginations — and individuality — of all the other kids start to make an appearance. Soon, the classroom is full of astronauts, princesses, a lion, and even a briefcase-toting little boy! This story tackles all sorts of issues that face a child on her first day, from the routine of the day to keeping an open mind and finding common ground with friends-to-be of all sorts.
Every day is an adventure; every day is a chance to be fierce! This exuberant young narrator starts her day by putting on "armor" (a rainbow sweater) and prepares to face the challenges of her world. From monsters (dogs on a walk) to giants (big kids at the bus stop), she knows there's no beast she can't overcome. Her courage can also help others, like when she refuses to let a classmate sit alone in the cafeteria. After a busy day, she returns home to rest... after all, tomorrow, she'll be fierce again! This joyous celebration of bravery, compassion, and imagination is a reminder that you can be a hero every day.
Danbi is excited for her first day of kindergarten — at a new school in America! But when she arrives, she gets a case of nerves: everyone stares when she arrives, and while she tries to join in, she doesn't know the routines of the dances or the rules of all the games. How will she ever find a way to fit in? The answer, it turns out, is food — her classmates are fascinated and delighted by her traditional Korean lunch! Soon, she's teaching them to use chopsticks (with hilarious results) and leading everyone on a fun-filled parade. This exuberant character conveys a powerful message about navigating two cultures, including the reminder that when we share the things that make us unique, we can find friendship wherever we go.
On her first day at Fairy School, Twinkle is so excited she bursts into song! But while her friends Pippa and Lulu quickly master their first spells, Twinkle just can't seem to make them work. To learn them, she goes against her teacher's advice and tries practicing her spells at night, only to forget the words and make such a ruckus that she wakes up half the inhabitants of Sparkle Tree Forest! Fortunately, patient Miss Flutterbee reassures Twinkle that she'll succeed in the end... and teaches her to play to her strengths by singing spells rather than chanting them. This sparkly, relatable story about a feisty fairy dealing with the frustration of struggling with a skill is perfect to share with new students worried about learning something new.
It's the first day of preschool for this little girl, and she wishes that she could just disappear. But a comforting voice in her head urges her to look within for courage: "Do you hear it?/ That isn't your heart./ That is the sound of your very own wings/ beating within." When she closes her eyes, those wings carry her off to a dreamlike world full of animal friends, who give her the strength to step through her classroom door — where she finds a classroom full of human friends to play with! This wondrous exploration of imagination, courage, and confidence is more than just a story of first-day jitters; it's a reminder of the incredible strength we all have within.
Sisters Maple and Willow do everything together, but one fall, that all changes: suddenly, Maple is off to school, and even though Willow is a big girl too, she has to stay at home. To console herself, Willow imagines an acorn friend named Pip to keep her company while Maple is away. When Maple gets home, she's excited to tell Willow all about her adventures — but when she hears about Pip, suddenly it's Maple who's jealous of Willow! Fortunately, these loving sisters find the perfect solution: Pip joins Maple at school, while Willow stays home and plays with other imaginary acorn friends. Fans of these sweet sisters from Maple and Maple and Willow Together will enjoy watching how they adjust their relationship to the start of school.
An older sibling can help reassure a nervous soon-to-be student! When Lola gets nervous and decides she's not really big enough for school after all, big brother Charlie patiently helps encourage her to find her confidence — with a little help from her imaginary friend Soren Lorenson. This sweet and funny story is also a great way to show big brothers and sisters how they can help support an anxious sibling, and fans of Charlie and Lola will definitely want to add it to their shelf.
Pirate Emma has loved her time with her awesome preschool teacher, Cap'n Chu — but now it's time for kindergarten. Not only does that mean leaving Cap'n Chu behind, but her kindergarten classroom is a rocket, not a pirate ship! So Emma decides a little mutiny is in order and, despite attempts at encouragement from her new Cap'n Hayes and a kindergarten classmate, "swims" back to Cap'n Chu. Fortunately, with a little reassurance from Cap'n Chu, Emma finally decides to take a bold step into kindergarten and accept her new identity: space pirate! Bold cartoons emphasize Emma's bravado and imagination as she comes to terms with a big transition.
It's a big day for Uni the Unicorn: the first day of school! That's where unicorns learn to use their magic horns to fix things. Uni joins a class of excited little unicorns as Mr. Wise tells them that they're going to help the forest — but at first, Uni's horn isn't very magical. The magic will only work if you're helping others, but Uni just can't seem to figure out the trick! Fortunately, with a little practice (and a little self-confidence), Uni is able to fix a nest to help the little birds who need it. This sweet Step 2 book from the Step Into Reading series features basic vocabulary and short sentences, perfect for kids to read as their first book — at back to school time or any day of the year.
Tess' family is filled with love, and her home is a warm, comforting place. So when it's time for her first day at school, Tess is worried: can her family's love come with her, even when she's far from home? Her mother assures her that the strands of love that connect them can stretch far, far away, and when Tess arrives at school, she realizes that the other kids have similar strings connecting them to people they love — even those who are far away, and those who are no longer with them except in spirit. This gentle story subtly addresses separation, anxiety, grief, and love in a sensitive way, providing the perfect reassurance for new students that their family's love will be with them every step of the way.
Lily does NOT like the idea of buying things for school, but when she finds a cat mask on the shelf — and her father buys it for her — she thinks she's found the perfect solution to feeling shy: everything is easier with her mask on! But when she arrives at school, she gets a shock: her teacher tells her she can only wear the mask at recess. At first, Lily doesn't know what to do, but despite a bit of rebellion, she learns to cope without her mask on all the time... and when she gets a special chance to wear it in class, it even becomes the link that helps her make a new friend! Kids who are feeling reluctant for all the changes school brings will love watching Lily find both her confidence and her place in her classroom.
Sophie's dedication to her vegetable friends continues in this sequel to Sophie's Squash! On the first day of school, Sophie brings Bonnie and Baxter, baby squash she grew in her garden, along with her — but none of her classmates seem to appreciate them. Worse, one fellow student, Steven, seems to insist on following Sophie around. Sophie isn't interested in being friends with Steven... or is she? After all, she knows from experience that her squash friends won't last forever; maybe a human friend would be just the ticket. This book, which is perfect for kids with a mix of school jitters and resistance to change, is a reflective reminder that, just like a squash, it takes time to grow a friendship.
When Anya wakes up on her first day of school, she's horrified to discover that she's grown a tiger tail overnight! What will the other kids say? Are girls with tails even allowed at school? Anya tries everything: the tail won't come off, she can't hide it, and when she tries to miss the bus, she ends up at school anyway. But once she gets there, she realizes that she might not be the only one who looks a little bit different... This clever book, full of expressive illustrations, will make kids giggle with its exaggerated look at first day jitters.
There's lots to do if you're going to help your teacher be ready for the first day of school — let alone all the other big days of the school year, from picture day to concerts to the 100th day of school! In this hilarious book by the author of the bestselling How To Babysit A Grandma, an enthusiastic class of kids do their best to help their teacher make it through a busy year — and along the way, they feel more prepared too. Full of role-reversal humor and detailed illustrations that will get kids laughing, this book is sure to be a hit.
Twins Dax and Zoe do everything together — they go together like peanut butter and jelly! Which means they're extra nervous about kindergarten when they learn that they will be placed in separate classrooms. How can they handle the start of school alone? Fortunately, the pair quickly discover new friends and learn classroom routines on their own... and share their adventures with one another when they get to meet up at recess time. Kids will giggle as Dax and Zoe alternate being confident and nervous, and feel reassured to know that important relationships can stay the same, even when they spend time apart at school.
Precocious Lola already knows plenty: she can tie her shoes, cartwheel, count, and more! In fact, Lola thinks she probably knows everything school has to teach her. However, her confidence is deflated when her older sister, Charlotte, makes her doubt herself. And while she spends the days counting down to school listing all the things she knows, Charlotte and Lola's mother gently remind her that she has plenty of exciting new things to learn, too. This funny book captures a situation that may be all too familiar to the parents of some kids, and provides a lovely way to show the adventure that kids are beginning when they start school.
This busload of animals is full of fears about the first day of school — and it's no wonder! Sloth should have left sooner; the joey misses the warmth and security of kangaroo mom's pouch; and the bunny can't stop hopping, even though she knows you're supposed to sit still at school. When the anxious crew arrives in their classroom, they're startled when something rolls on the floor up front. It's their teacher, an armadillo — and he's so nervous he's rolled up into a ball! Kids will giggle at the animals' predicaments (which all capture common school-related worries) and enjoy how this supportive class helps everyone find ways to feel comfortable with in their new school adventure.
Penelope Rex is startled to discover her classmates are all children, so she does what comes naturally... and eats them. Children are delicious, after all! Her teacher immediately gets her to spit them out, and tells her firmly that classmates are not snacks. But Penelope is always hungry, and no matter how hard she tries, she keeps forgetting the rule — until an unexpectedly voracious class pet teaches her what it feels like to be eaten! Beloved author/illustrator Ryan T. Higgins has created a laugh out loud story with a gentle message about the importance of treating others how you want to be treated. Penelope returns in We Will Rock Our Classmates.
Sometimes it helps for children to know it’s normal to be a little nervous about the start of school. Sarah is hiding under her bed — and announces that she is not going to school. “I don’t know anybody, and it will be hard,” she wails. Fortunately, Mr. Hartwell kindly coaxes her out of bed and off to school — where the surprise reveal of just who Sarah is will get your child giggling! This fun reminder that your child isn’t the only one feeling anxious about starting school is sure to help chase some of the butterflies away.
Young Amelia Bedelia is so excited for school! But for the literal-minded girl, things don't go as planned. When the bus driver tells her "Time to jump off!" she takes a running leap; when the librarian tells her to put her nose in a book, that hurts; and when she finds out she's supposed to stay "glued to her seat," well.... Fortunately, her gentle and understanding teacher Mrs. Edwards offers some guidance as Amelia Bedelia figures out how a school day works. Fans of the Amelia Bedelia books will love getting a peek at the literal-minded housekeeper's childhood — including her first day at school.
Geraldine the giraffe is a bit of a drama queen, who brings her expressive neck to bear as she tells the story of her move from Giraffe City to a new town where she'll be the only giraffe at school! Being called "That Giraffe Girl" by her new peers turns Geraldine into a quiet, deflated, and lonely creature. Then Geraldine meets Cassie, who can empathize with being different: "I’m that girl who wears glasses and likes MATH and always organizes her food," she tells Geraldine. Soon, the pair has formed a fast friendship... and Geraldine is feeling much more at home. Clever (and funny) illustrations of Geraldine's melodramatic behavior will get kids giggling, but the story about the challenges of being the "new kid" or feeling excluded will resonate with many young readers.
Kids who are nervous generally are more likely to worry about school. Wemberly is one of those kids who worries about everything from spilling her juice to whether a snake could sneak in through the radiator, and school brings its own host of worries — including whether she'll find a friend. Fortunately, a sympathetic teacher introduces Wemberly to another nervous new student; soon the pair are not only comforting one another, but discovering that there's too much fun to be had at school — and with new friends — to spend all your time worrying.
Heidi's first day at Bug School proves to be more difficult than she expected: the stick insect finds that her camouflage is so good that her classmates don't even notice her! Even her teacher, Miss Orb, seems to miss Heidi among the crowd. When one final indignity — being selected as a craft material by a fellow student — proves to be the final straw, Heidi speaks up and her class comes up with an innovative solution to ensure that Heidi doesn't get left out. Beautiful illustrations of an imaginative forest world's school provide an elegant backdrop for a story about feeling invisible and making others feel welcome.
Even the bravest of kids might feel some anxiety about their first day! Edda has everything she's ever wanted in her exciting home of Asgard — except a friend her own age. Her father tells her that there's a place on Earth called "school" where she could seek out her peers... if she dares. School is very different from Asgard, and even Edda finds herself uncertain about where she fits in this new world. Fortunately, thanks to a little Valkyrie courage and determination, it's not long before Edda feels right at home.
Milly is ready for her first day at Unicorn School, where rainbows and sparkles await the best and brightest young unicorns. Except Milly isn't a unicorn... she's a donkey wearing a party hat, who sent what she admits is a "misleading picture" along with her application. She's worried that she won't fit in with the other unicorns... until she realizes that quite a few of her fellow students may have secrets of their own. And when it turns out that NONE of the new students are unicorns, they come up with a clever solution — and change the name of the school to the Awesome Animal School! This laugh-out-loud picture book reminds kid that they may have more in common with others than they think — and celebrates the power of inclusiveness, too.
With school comes rules, but it can be hard to follow the rules when you’re a superhero! Annie is sure she’ll have some great adventure at kindergarten — she even comes prepared with her Adventure Annie cape. But Mr. Todd’s Gold Star Rules are hard to follow when you’re seeking a grand adventure. Annie wants to be that day’s Gold Star Deputy, but it looks like the chances of that are slim — until two helpers get lost, and Annie gets to have her adventure and follow the Gold Star Rules.
The transition from a bright, playful kindergarten class to the more serious first grade can also cause some nerves — especially if you don't have your friend by your side! In this story from "The Night Before..." series, Penny is excited for the first day of grade one — until she discovers that her best friend has been assigned to the other class. Although she's thrown temporarily, soon Penny is exploring everything her new classroom has to offer and making some new connections with other classmates. Imagine the fun stories she and her best friend can share when the school day is done!
At first, Hayley is excited to return to school: kindergarten was fun, and she feels like an expert compared to the confused new kindergarteners. But first grade, with its increased structure, decreased playtime, and higher demands, is frustrating and upsetting for Hayley. Even storytime proves exasperating when Ms. Gray stops reading before the story ends! When Hayley's worries and anger bubble over, though, Ms. Gray is there to reassure her that first grade can be challenging but that exciting adventures — like reading chapter books all by herself — are on the horizon. This sympathetic story addresses a transition that's just as important, but less recognized, than starting kindergarten.
There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.... There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or because you are quiet when others' voices fill the room. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson lyrical text and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López's dazzling art celebrates the courage it takes to go out into a world where you feel strange and alone, and the acceptance and friendship you can find if you do.
Expectations get tougher when you move into first grade, too, which can cause conflicts between students and teachers. Zoe's wild hair — which can act on its own to pet the cat and play on the computer — was acceptable in her kindergarten class. But when her new first grade teacher, Ms. Trisk, declares, "School has rules....No wild hair in my class!" Zoe's hair gets subdued — along with her spirits. However, when Zoe's sentient hair breaks free just in time to help with a lesson, Ms. Trisk has to admit that there's a place for Zoe's hair in her class after all. In addition to providing a funny look at the transition between kindergarten and grade one, this book provides a reminder that teachers learn from their students too.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more books about first days at school, check out our Starting School Collection.
- For more books about Mighty Girls of all ages and their time at school, visit our School Collection.
- To help teach your Mighty Girl skills to build strong friendships at school, check out our blog Making and Keeping Friends: Mighty Girl Books About Friendship.
- You can send her off to school with an empowering backpack or lunchbag -- just check out our Bags / Packs Collection!