First Day of School Book Favorites (+ activities too)

We all know that the first day of school can be an emotional time for parents and kids alike. This year brings its own challenges, with virtual learning, social distancing requirements, and block scheduling planned for students across the country.

This is new territory for everyone, and children are not immune to the uneasiness surrounding reopening schools. However, by staying positive and proactive, it’s possible to carve out an optimistic outlook for the upcoming school year.

One of the best ways to ease a child’s anxiety is through literature. By introducing characters with feelings and situations resembling their own, they are able to ascertain insight and expand their perspective.

And by forming character connections through literature with your child, you will be able to affirm their feelings and create open dialogue on topics of concern or excitement.

Below we have listed some of our favorite first day of school books you can read to prepare your child for the new year. With comprehensive subjects such as first-day jitters, meeting new friends, learning the new school rules; we’ve listed a book for it all.

You will also find some post-reading activities to stimulate follow-up conversations and engage your child even more with some of the characters and topics.

See Our List of Favorite First Day of School Books and Activities Below!

1. Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? 

Through sweet, simple prose and vivid illustrations, this book encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis.


How Full Is Your Bucket childrens activity picture Have you child create a bucket of their own by thinking and writing down the things that make them happy and placing them in their bucket.

Clickable link to download How Full is Your Bucket book activity

2. First Day Jitters

Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. First Day Jitters is sure to be treasured by anyone who has ever anticipated a first day of school.


Picture of boy holding First Day Jitters book activityHave your child make a “Jitter Juice”. Cut out all the emojis that your child feels about starting school and put them in the jitter juice. You can also make a “Jitter Juice” of your own with Hawaiian Punch and Sprite!

Clickable image to First Day Jitters book activity

3. Llama Llama Misses Mama

It’s Llama Llama’s first day of school, and he’s not too happy about it. Still, he trudges along and makes his bed, brushes his teeth, and eats his breakfast.

But once he arrives at his classroom — with so many new faces, new names, and new games — little Llama doesn’t know what to do. And when Mama Llama leaves, the little guy feels even more shy and alone. What will this lonely llama do? Will Mama ever return?


Boy holding up Llama Llama paper plate craft

With two paper plates, make an outline of Llama Llama’s head, ears and scruffy hair. Cut out the eyes, color and glue together to create a Llama Llama mask!

4. Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books

It’s the first day of first grade! Gilbert is looking forward to learning how to read and making new friends, but . . .

Will the teacher be nice? Will first grade be too hard? Will he like his classmates? Will they like him? Gilbert is excited and nervous at the same time and maybe your littles will relate.


What's in My Backpack book activity exampleDownload the below activity to help your little one prepare their backpack. They’ll need more than just books and pencils!

Clickable image to Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books book activity

5. David Goes to School

In this sequel, young David heads off to school for the first time and David’s teacher certainly has her hands full! From running, yelling, and pushing with abandon to chewing gum in class, David’s high-energy antics fill each day with trouble. David’s unruly romp through school is sure to bring a smile to the face of even the best-behaved reader. Read along as David learns the school rules.


Picture of David Goes to School book activitySchool rules are very important. See if your child knows the difference between good school behavior and what is not allowed with this “Yes, David – No, David” activity.

Clickable link to David Goes to School book activity download

Our List of Back to School book FAVORITES!

Interested in more back-to-school posts? Check out this post to download a free first day of school printable!


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  • Tamara | This Mom's Delight

    These are perfect choices for the kiddo headed to public school. Books are one of the best ways to communicate understanding.

    July 31, 2019 at 12:37 pm Reply
  • Melissa Damiani

    Hi, As a former teacher of 20 years, I know first hand how difficult a first day of school can be. And, whether you’re doing these activities with your students or children, they are sure to help! Sincerely, Melissa Damiani | Gratitude Grace Glamour

    July 31, 2019 at 8:23 pm Reply
  • Kileen

    These are awesome books and great way for kids to be creative and great activities for them to ease back into school!

    cute & little

    August 1, 2019 at 2:03 am Reply
  • Angela

    These are all such great ideas! My son and daughter loved the Llama Llama books when they were little!!

    August 1, 2019 at 7:32 am Reply
  • Jessica Lieb (@bkeepsushonest)

    These are all so cute. I love llama llama misses mama activity.

    August 1, 2019 at 7:43 am Reply
  • Megan |

    How fun are these! Great ideas! My daughter loves the llama llama books!

    August 1, 2019 at 10:39 am Reply
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