The first day of school is rapidly approaching for us and may have already happened for some of you! As educators, we try to craft the best lesson plans to start creating our classroom communities and build relationships. As families, we want to decrease the anxiety some of our kids might be feeling as they approach the unknown of new teachers and maybe a new school. No matter how you are participating in the first day of school this year, Colorful Pages wants to help!
Diverse books are a great way to make sure every child is being represented as you are building classroom communities or relieving the worries of your kiddos. They help students feel seen and also see others that are unfortunately often left out of our read alouds. Below, I have crafted a list of five picture books that are perfect to get rid of first day jitters! Here are Five Picture Books for the First Day of School:
1. King of Kindergarten, by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The King of Kindergarten is a picture book about a little boy getting ready and going to his first day of Kindergarten. Barnes and Brantley-Newton beautifully position the little boy as a king ready to take on a new adventure with their illustrations and figurative language.
On The Spectrum of Multicultural Literature, The King of Kindergarten would be a Representation Book because it is about a little boy going to Kindergarten and does not do a deep dive into culture.This is perfect for the first day of school for preschool and kindergarten classrooms and families. It empowers every student, especially our Black boys, to see school as a new adventure that they can conquer.
2. The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López
The Day You Begin is a picture book about being different from others. It explores different situations where different characters feel like “the other” in places. The book shows how overcoming that feeling is so brave.
On The Spectrum of Multicultural Literature, The Day You Begin would be a Conversation Book because most of the characters have to overcome discrimination in some way. The Day You Begin is great for the first day of school for grades K-5 because it is about entering into a new environment, which our students will be. Families and educators can use this book to start conversations about facing first day worries and creating an inclusive community in school.
3. The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi
The Name Jar is a picture book about a little girl named Unhei (Yoon-hey) and her first experience at a school in America. Unhei and her family have just moved to the United States of America from Korea. On her way to her first day of school, a few classmates tease Unhei about her name, so she decides to not tell her class her name and tells them that she will pick a name later. By the end of the book, she is empowered to use her real name and help her classmates pronounce it.
On The Spectrum of Multicultural Literature, The Name Jar would be a Conversation Book because Unhei faces discrimination due to her name, culture, and immigration status. This book would be good to talk about names and nicknames with your students. It also can help you create expectations about embracing others’ cultures and not discriminating against others.
4. All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
All Are Welcome is a picture book about a group of children’s day in school. The school is filled with diverse identities that are accepted. The message of “All Are Welcome” is repeated through rhyming.
On The Spectrum of Multicultural Literature, All Are Welcome would be mostly an Exploration Book because it explores different aspects of various cultures, but does not delve into one specific culture or race. This book screams “first day of school book”! It talks about appreciating all different kinds of identities and can help you start a conversation about making your classroom community a welcoming one.
5. Sumi’s First Day of School Ever, by Soyung Pak and illustrated by Joung Un Kim
Sumi’s First Day of School Ever is about Sumi, a young Korean girl, and her first day at her new school. She does not know what to think about school at first, but then quickly develops a negative idea about school after experiencing some mean classmates and scary things. However, by the end, she realizes school can actually be a good place.
On the Spectrum of Multicultural Literature, Sumi’s First Day of School Ever is mostly a Conversation Book because Sumi does experience some racial discrimination from her classmates in the beginning. This is another book that would be great for any classroom to talk about during the first day of school. Talk to your students about accepting every person into the classroom community and/or easing their own nerves!
Happy First Day of School, everyone! Start the year off right with some Colorful Pages!