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Bringing Books to Life's Favorite Books for the First Day of School!

August 1, 2023

The first day of school in Nashville is one week from today, and just like families all over Davidson County, Bringing Books to Life (BBTL) staff are gearing up for the start of a new school year! If you haven't yet contacted BBTL about a story time, Puppet Truck show, teacher training, or family literacy workshop for this year, we would love to hear from you. We have plenty of books and stories to share, including books about the first day of school!  

The first day of school—especially for newly minted Kindergarteners—can bring up all sorts of feelings. Parents and caregivers often also have big feelings about the first day of school. Picture books are always a great way to talk through what we are thinking and feeling. Here are some books we particularly love here at BBTL, perfect for sharing before the first day of school. 

BBTL Manager Liz Atack is a big fan of School's First Day of School. Written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson, this delightful book is a twist on the "first day of school" theme. It's written not from the perspective of students or teachers, but from the perspective of the school building itself!

According to Janitor, who mops and buffs the school's floors and washes the windows, all kinds of children will soon come to school— and school is rather nervous about that. On the first day, there are so many children, even some who don't want to be at school in the first place. There are Kindergarteners with similar sounding names, pictures made with glitter, and even a fire drill. But at the end of the day, School decides being a school is a nice thing after all.

Caroline Cronin, Bilingual Family Literacy Assistant (and NPL Children's blogger) loves Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten. This sweet picture book shines a light on what the Kindergarten experience can be like for sensory sensitive children. 

There's a lot happening on the first day of school; new sights, new smells, new people, and new routines. For sensory sensitive children like our young feline protagonist Clover, this can be downright overwhelming. Clover decides that "Kittygarten" is not for her, but through the patience shown to her by her mother and a classmate, she decides to try again. 

Training and Curriculum Coordinator Shannon Albee loves If You Take a Mouse to School. Part of the beloved If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series from Laura Joffe Numeroff, Shannon loves this book because it offers "so many curriculum opportunities" for the PreK classroom. In the Block Center, for example, kids can use block to build Mouse "a little mouse house," just like in the book! 

Her sentimental favorite, however, is Chrysanthemum. Written by the prolific Kevin Henkes, this tender picture book about treating others with kindness and respect, and taking confidence in what makes you stand out is a modern classic.

Program Coordinator Marie Preptit thinks El Cucuy is Scared, Too! is adorable! Written by Newbery award winning author Donna Barba Higuera, this sweet picture book takes cues from Mexican folklore in its reinterpretation of the legend of el cucuy, or the bogeyman. Known throughout the Spanish speaking world by various names, he has traditionally been invoked to frighten young children into good behavior. In this book, however, he is a scared little monster who learns to be brave about big changes, including the first day of school. This delightful book is also available in Spanish!

As the Family Literacy Coordinator for BBTL, one of my absolute favorite books to read aloud when discussing the transition to Kindergarten is Chu's First Day of School. Written by Neil Gaiman (yes, that Neil Gaiman), this adorably funny book is actually the second in a three-part series about a little panda with a special talent.  

Chu is nervous about the first day of school. His parents try to assuage his worries, but he isn't really convinced. During show and tell time at school the next day, Chu makes quite the impression on his classmates. All in all, it turns out to be a "pretty good" day. This book is also available in both English and Spanish (which you know I love!). 

For more books about big feelings and the first day of school, check out the list below created by Marie Preptit, BBTL Program Coordinator. Under "You Might Also Like," you'll see Spanish language editions of some the books discussed in this blog post.

We regularly feature booklists about a variety of topics and themes on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Be sure to follow us for more book recommendations, early literacy tips, and information about our programs, including our free Teacher Trainings and Family Literacy workshops. We look forward to seeing you this school year! 

Big Feelings about Back to School

Klem-Mari Cajigas


In a former life, Klem-Marí was a Religious Studies scholar. She much prefers being the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life! She wants you to read and share books with the children in your life, and for those children to see you to read as well. Originally from Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí also enjoys her cat, baking, yoga, and the works of Octavia Butler.