Musing about parenthood, the work of justice and diverse reads.

From Backpack to Bookshelf: Must-Reads for a Successful School Transition

As I write this, school starts in 4 days and I haven’t shopped for a single school supply. 

Don’t panic. I’m headed out tomorrow for a solo trip to the store because my kids could care less about buying glue sticks, pencils, and marble composition notebooks. 

While our youngest has been in school for a year, he starts kindergarten this year. 

Reality is hitting me. 

My baby is going to kindergarten; this is the start of the big leagues. 

I’m processing this the way I handle every new challenge—with a book list. 

Here are the ones we’ve read: 

Here are the ones we’ve read: 

King of Kindergarten & Queen of Kindergarten by Derek Barnes Illustrated by Vanessa NewtonIf confidence is what you want your little one to channel, these books fit the bill. Positive with vibrant illustrations, we’ve gifted this one over the years. 

Henry at Home by Megan Maynor Illustrated by Alea Marley– Henry only knows life with his big sister, Liza, but soon Liza is off to school. This is the sweetest book for any siblings charting new territory. 

Twindergarten by Nikki Ehrlich -Our kiddos are fascinated with this twin duo and the mix of emotions as they start the year in separate classrooms. I appreciated how the book highlights the change in emotions and feelings, as it’s a great conversation starter. 

“The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing – A fun and charming story that highlights the anticipation and preparations for the first day of kindergarten. It’s not the students who go to the magical rug for hugs, but the parents who are comforted. 

“All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman – This picture book celebrates diversity and inclusivity in a school setting, welcoming children from different backgrounds and cultures. And, psst. I just saw this easier reader version of the book too!

“The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi – A story about a young Korean girl, Unhei, who is nervous about her first day of school in America and the decision she must make about her name.

“Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten!” by Hyewon Yum – A picture book that captures the mixed feelings of a child starting kindergarten and a mother’s support through this milestone.

Here’s what’s waiting for us at the library or on hoopla: 

“A Plan for Pops” by Heather Smith and Brooke Kerrigan – A heartwarming tale about a boy named Lou and his grandfather, who have their own unique way of coping with the first day of school together. 

“Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story” by Reem Faruqi and Lea Lyon – This book follows Lailah, a young Muslim girl, as she starts a new school and faces challenges while observing Ramadan.

And a book about bravery that is always clutch and that you might have on your shelf.

“Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall – Although not directly about starting school, this book is a favorite at our house. It’s about a boy named Jabari as he faces his fear of jumping off the diving board, which is a great jumping point, (see what I did there?), for conversations about new experiences at school.

“The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López – Another favorite by one of my favorite authors, Jacqueline Woodson, this book celebrates the courage it takes to be yourself and embrace differences. Another great conversation starter is showing up as who you are. 

No need to rush to get all the books and read them before the first day! Explore the idea all month and find the conversation growing, shifting, and changing. 

In this with you,


Looking for a full list, find all the books mentioned & more here.

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Hi, I’m Elicia.

A former educator in search of ways to pursue justice intentionally in a noisy world through products that spark conversation, connection & a stack of books on my nightstand.

Find all our book favorites here.

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