My Absolute Favourite Back-to-School Books

Inside: A collection of Grade 1 back-to-school books.

It’s back to school time again!

Actually, here in B.C. we have another month to go, but I know in many parts of the States school has already started up again for the year or will be soon.

Here are the books I read to my classes over the years to help ease them (with a little humour) into those first few days of school.

This is the Teacher Book ReviewThis is the Teacher
by Rhonda Gowler Greene
illustrated by Mike Lester

From the Book Cover:
This book is about a teacher all ready for school. And also the students who rush through the door and drop sacks of lunches that SMASH! on the floor. Not mention the snake that escaped, the cupcakes that flew, the bad bee that buzzed, the fountain that clogged, the kid who got sick, and Eek! There’s that hamster that spins in a wheel!

My Thoughts:
This book is a wild ride and is written in the style of “The House That Jack Built”. Whenever I read this book to my class they alternated between laughing and looking stunned at all the chaos.


Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes book review. Great for back to school!Wemberly Worried
by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly worried about spilling her juice, about shrinking in the bathtub, even about snakes in the radiator. She worried morning, noon, and night. “Worry, worry, worry,” her family said. “Too much worry.” And Wemberly worried about one thing most of all: her first day of school. But when she meets a fellow worrywart in her class, Wemberly realizes that school is too much fun to waste time worrying!

My Thoughts:
Kevin Henkes is one of my favourite authors! His books are so sweet and this one is no exception. All the nervous little worriers in your class will definitely connect to this book.


Don\'t Eat the Teacher book review. Funny back to school book!Don’t Eat the Teacher
by Nick Ward

From the Book Cover:
It’s Sammy the shark’s first day at school — and he’s very excited. But when Sammy gets excited, he BITES things!
Can he get through the day without causing too much trouble?

My Thoughts:
I remember the first time I read this book to my class, back in 1999 shortly after it first came out. They loved it! There’s this lovely build-up of anticipation while the kids wait for Sammy to go nutty and start biting things in the classroom. And the ending is great, too! It’s hard to tell for sure whether or not Sammy endings up eating the teacher so it makes for a wonderful class discussion where everyone gives their detailed opinion as to what REALLY happens.


First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush. Great back to school book for Grade 1.First Grade Jitters
by Robert Quackenbush
illustrated by Yan Nascimbene

From the Book Flap:
Here is the story of a young boy who is about to enter first grade and doesn’t know quite what to expect. Will his friends be there? Will he have to know how to read and spell? What if he can’t understand anything his teacher says? Looks like a case of first grade jitters.

My Thoughts:
This is a very sweet book that will help ease the fears of any nervous children. Reading this book opens the door to great conversations about some very common worries many young children have when starting school. I love the illustrations, too. They have a retro feel to them. A few reviewers on Amazon thought the way the boy acted wasn’t realistic for first grade but I disagree. There are always a few immature, late bloomers starting first grade and I’ve seen nervousness and tantrums just like the one the boy throws in the shoe store. Again, it’s perfect for starting a conversation around fears kids have. And for those children who are feeling very confident, it’s good for them to learn that not everyone feels the same way.


How I spent My Summer Vacation book review. Perfect for back to school.How I Spent My Summer Vacation
by Mark Teague

From the Book Flap:
Some kids spend their summer vacation at camp. Some kids spend it at Grandma’s house. Wallace Bleff spent his out west…on a ride, a rope, and a roundup he’ll never forget.

My Thoughts:
This is just a really fun rhyming book that I’m sure your kids will love. The illustrations are fabulous! After a read-aloud, it would be fun to have your class write about their own summer vacations, except with a little twist. They could either write fact or fiction, or a combo of both! Then the rest of the class would have to figure out whether their story was real or not.


The Class
by Boni Ashburn
illustrated by Kimberly Gee

Count along with twenty young students from nineteen different homes as they get ready for their first day of kindergarten.

Alarm clocks go off and students all over town wake up and get ready for their big day. Some feel eager, others are nervous, and a few are even grumpy! But they all get dressed, eat breakfast, pack backpacks, and make their way to school, where they will meet their new teacher and become a wonderful new class.

My Thoughts:
I love the rhymes and the sweet pictures and the fact that it shows a diverse group of children.  I like to read it in Grade 1 because it’s a great way to talk about similarities and differences. But honestly, some teachers may find it better suited to kindergarten.


The Night Before First Grade
by Natasha Wing
illustrated by Deborah Zemke

From the Cover:
‘Twas the night before first grade.
I kissed my dog Clover.
School’s starting tomorrow
because summer is over.”

It’s the night before the Big Day — first grade. And for two friends, the new school year starts off with a big surprise!

My Thoughts:
I’m a big fan of rhyming books and this one flows along smoothly. To quote the author, “I wanted to capture the panic of being split up from your best friend when you’re put into different classes, but then the joy of making new friends.” And Ms. Wing does that beautifully. I think you’ll really like this story.


First Grade Stinks
by Mary Ann Redman
illustrated by Beth Spiegel

It is the first day of school and Haley is excited. Things are different now. She isn’t a kindergartener anymore; she is a bigger kid. She is a first grader.

Haley quickly finds out that first grade is different from kindergarten, but in all the wrong ways! The classroom isn’t as bright and colorful. Ms. Gray doesn’t seem to smile as much as her kindergarten teacher Ms. Lacey did. The work is hard and there isn’t enough time to play outside. Worst of all, her best friend Ryan says he likes first grade! Finally, Haley has had enough. “First grade stinks!” she shouts. The classroom is suddenly very quiet. “You’re in trouble now,” Ryan whispers. But to Haley’s surprise Ms. Gray doesn’t look mad at all.

My Thoughts:
This story just always makes me laugh. Haley is such a feisty little character and she’s not shy about letting her new first grade teacher know exactly how she feels. My classes always loved this book, too. Plus they’re always a little shocked when I read them the title!

That’s it, friends! I hope you found something you like to get YOUR year off to a great start.

Happy Reading!

Back to School books for first grade


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