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The Big Day: 25 Picture Books About
Mighty Girls Starting School

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

Ming Goes To School

Ming Goes To School

Written by: Deirdre Sullivan
Illustrated by: Maja Lofdahl
Recommended Age: 2 - 5

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.

Maisy Goes To Preschool

Maisy Goes To Preschool

Written by: Lucy Cousins
Illustrated by: Lucy Cousins
Recommended Age: 2 - 5

Many kids will start their school lives in a preschool classroom, and they may be curious about what their day will look like when they start this new adventure. In this book, Maisy and her friends lead readers through a typical preschool day, from hanging your coat on its hook until it's time to go home. In between, there will be crafts, playtime with friends, and lots of fun! Going to preschool is a lot more fun with a friend like Maisy to show you the ropes!

Lena's Shoes Are Nervous
New!

A First Day of School Dilemma

Lena's Shoes Are Nervous
New!

A First Day of School Dilemma

Written by: Keith Calabrese
Illustrated by: Juana Medina
Recommended Age: 3 - 5

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.

The Night Before Kindergarten

The Night Before Kindergarten

Written by: Natasha Wing
Illustrated by: Julie Durrell
Recommended Age: 3 - 5

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.

Eliza's Kindergarten Surprise

Eliza's Kindergarten Surprise

Written by: Alice B. McGinty
Illustrated by: Nancy Speir
Recommended Age: 3 - 5

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.

Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School

Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School

Written by: Richard Torrey
Illustrated by: Richard Torrey
Recommended Age: 3 - 6

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.

Vee's First Day of School

Vee's First Day of School

Written by: Chelsea Beyl
Illustrated by: Golden Books
Recommended Age: 3 - 7

Fans of the Disney Junior TV show Vampirina will love this Big Golden Book that follows Vampirina on her first day at a new school! A move from Transylvania to Pennsylvania means starting school — human school. With her batty backpack and her monster ruler, Vampirina feels prepared and confident... until she arrives and realizes that human school is very different. Maybe she won't fit in at all! Fortunately, with the help of some welcoming new friends, Vampirina settles in and her first school day is a success. This charming retelling of one of the first episodes of Vampirina celebrates differences, acceptance, and dancing to the beat of your own drum!

Maple and Willow Apart

Maple and Willow Apart

Written by: Lori Nichols
Illustrated by: Lori Nichols
Recommended Age: 3 - 7

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.

I Am Too Absolutely Small For School

I Am Too Absolutely Small For School

Written by: Lauren Child
Illustrated by: Lauren Child
Recommended Age: 3 - 7

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.

Lily's Cat Mask

Lily's Cat Mask

Written by: Julie Fortenberry
Illustrated by: Julie Fortenberry
Recommended Age: 4 - 6

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 Squash Go To School

Sophie's Squash Go To School

Written by: Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by: Anne Wilsdorf
Recommended Age: 4 - 7

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.

A Tiger Tail (or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School)

A Tiger Tail (or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School)

Written by: Mike Boldt
Illustrated by: Mike Boldt
Recommended Age: 4 - 7

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.

How to Get Your Teacher Ready

How to Get Your Teacher Ready

Written by: Jean Reagan
Illustrated by: Lee Wildish
Recommended Age: 4 -7

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.

Twindergarten

Twindergarten

Written by: Nikki Ehrlich
Illustrated by: Zoey Abbott Wagner
Recommended Age: 4 - 7

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.

Lola Knows A Lot

Lola Knows A Lot

Written by: Jenna McCarthy
Illustrated by: Sara Palacios
Recommended Age: 4 - 7

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.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates
New!

We Don't Eat Our Classmates
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Written by: Ryan T. Higgins
Illustrated by: Ryan T. Higgins
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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.

First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters

Written by: Julie Danneberg
Illustrated by: Judith Dufour Love
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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.

Geraldine
New!

Geraldine
New!

Written by: Elizabeth Lilly
Illustrated by: Elizabeth Lilly
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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.

Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried

Written by: Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by: Kevin Henkes
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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.

Twig
New!

Twig
New!

Written by: Aura Parker
Illustrated by: Aura Parker
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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.

Edda: A Little Valkyrie's First Day of School

Edda: A Little Valkyrie's First Day of School

Written by: Adam Auerbach
Illustrated by: Adam Auerbach
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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.

Adventure Annie Goes To Kindergarten

Adventure Annie Goes To Kindergarten

Written by: Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by: Amy Wummer
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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 Night Before First Grade

The Night Before First Grade

Written by: Natasha Wing
Illustrated by: Deborah Zemke
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

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!

First Grade Stinks!

First Grade Stinks!

Written by: Mary Ann Rodman
Illustrated by: Beth Spiegel
Recommended Age: 5 - 8

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.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School

Written by: Laurie Halse Anderson
Illustrated by: Ard Hoyt
Recommended Age: 6 - 8

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.

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