Happy Back-to-School Time! This used to be one of my favorite times of the year when I taught elementary between setting up the classroom, meeting my students, planning with my colleagues, and talking with my families. I want to honor that we are coming out of a rough 2+ years in Education and Back-to-School will be exciting for some and harrowing to others. However you are feeling in your Back-to-School journey, I see you and I feel for you. 

The first few weeks of school are so important to set up a strong classroom community or get your own children ready to tackle the new year! Books are a great way to get these jobs done. As a teacher, the books I chose for the first few weeks of school were the ones I spent the most time considering: What messages do I want to convey? How can I get students excited about the new school year? What books went well with my first weeks of school activities? How can I teach social emotional learning and rules, routines, and procedures with these books? 

I have put together a series of book lists that I think are perfect for the first couple months of school! We will be releasing each list throughout the beginning of the school year. In our Back to School with Colorful Pages series, you will find: 

In this list of “Books About Starting School”, we have diverse books about starting school. I feature books that are mostly by Authors of Color and perfect for any classroom. Like usual, there are some ideas about what you can do with the books or why they are good for this topic. Check out the list below and Happy School Year! 

Back to School: A Global Journey, by Maya Ajmera

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Exploration

Age Range: 4-8 years

Back to School: A Global Journey takes readers around the world to see how different kids go to school. Each page has real photographs with captions about what school looks like in various countries. In the back of the book, there is a fun map that shows the countries featured along with the big themes that connect each schooling experience. 

This would be fun either as a quick first day of school read aloud or as a big project after 1-2 weeks of school. You could read the book to students and then ask them to write about what school is like for them. After, the class could add all their writings together to make their own Back to School book! 

The Noisy Classroom, by Angela Shanté

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Representation

Age Range: 6-8 years

In The Noisy Classroom, a little girl is going to start third grade soon, which means she will be in Ms. Johnson’s “noisy classroom”. From the hallway, she can always hear singing, chattering, and lots of other noise from Ms. Johnson’s room. She is getting worried about what school will be like in the Noisy Classroom. This is perfect for students to connect with while they are anxiously waiting for school. 

I think this read aloud would be a good companion for an activity of what students thought the first day of school would be like and what it actually was like. 

David Jumps In, by Alan Woo

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Mostly Exploration

Age Range: 4-7 years

In this picture book, Alan Woo writes about David’s first day at his new school. He does not know anyone and he does not know who to play with. However, at recess, David is ready to make friends with a game called Elastic Skip, which has roots in ancient China. 

Woo’s book is great to talk about diversity and inclusion within school as well as feelings of nervousness or anxiety around making new friends. Educators and families can read it and then students could write or draw about their feelings. It could also be a good companion for a class meeting about first day of school feelings!

​​This Is a School, by John Schu

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Mostly Exploration

Age Range: 4-7 years

This Is a School shows the different components of a school. John Schu details about the physical components (like the building and hallways) and the people that make up a school. Veronica Miller Jamison’s illustrations are just so cute! They also challenge many stereotypes of who we typically see as a teacher or student in older books and media. 

John Schu and Veronica Miller Jamison’s book would be absolutely perfect for any grade level on the first day of school. I could see families using this book to remind or introduce students about what is a school and what happens in a school. Educators could read this book on the first day of school before doing a school tour or talking about rules, routines, and procedures. 

The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson

The Spectrum of Multicultural Lit.: Mostly Representation

Age Range: 5-8 years

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. 

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. 

Suki’s Kimono, by Chieri Uegaki

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Between Exploration & Conversation

Age Range: 4-8 years

Chieri Ugeaki writes this picture book about Suki and her kimono that was given to her by her obachan. Suki decides that she wants to wear the kimono she loves so much on her first day of school. Her sisters try to dissuade her from wearing it by stating, “People will think you’re weird”. However, the blue kimono means so much to Suki that she is brave and decides to wear it! 

It is an important message for all children to hear about standing up for and sharing your culture and things important to your family. You could read this and have students draw pictures of their first day of school outfits and why they wore it! 

The King of Kindergarten, by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Representation

Age Range: 3-6 years old

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. 

The King of Kindergarten  is a great story for every child and it specifically helps empower our Black boys. It shows that they not only belong in school, but that they are kings and can achieve so much! In previous years, I read this and then students made their First Day of School Crowns. There are some great First Day of School Crown crafts for free online. 

The Queen of Kindergarten, by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton 

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Representation

Age Range: 3-5 years old

The Queen of Kindergarten is Derrick Barnes’s follow up to The King of Kindergarten. This picture book features MJ, a little girl who is getting ready for her first day of Kindergarten. Her momma gives her a tiara that she had worn on her first day of school and now MJ will be the Queen of Kindergarten. The rest of the book details MJ’s first day of Kindergarten and the kind and empowering acts she does as the Queen of Kindergarten with her tiara. 

Families and educators could use this book on the first day of school to get students excited. Also, they could make their own First Day of School Tiaras/Crowns. A fun social emotional learning twist to that project could be that students can draw or write everything they bring into the classroom community. 

I Got the School Spirit, by Connie Schofield-Morrison

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit.: Representation

Age Range: 3-6 years old

I Got the School Spirit is about a little girl getting ready for her first day of school. She has school spirit and is super excited to be at school. 

This is a great read aloud to get students pumped for the first day! It is the perfect quick read about the first day of school.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org where your purchases support local bookstores. I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for purchasing on our Bookshop! Any added funds are used to support Colorful Pages’s operations and keep our website resources free. 

2 thoughts on “Back to School with Colorful Pages: Diverse Books About Starting School

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s