The first day of school is an exciting time for all kids, so we should have first day of school books that show all kinds of kids staring school!
You may also enjoy these Diverse Early Chapter Books!
These picture books capture the nerves and excitement of the first day of school from a variety of perspectives. Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten, a new school in a new town, or a new school in a new country, children will see themselves in these books, while also learning more about others.
Grab some of these diverse titles to get ready for the first day of school, and be sure to grab a few for your new classroom, too!
12 Diverse First Day of School Books
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes – Kindergarten is an exciting time, and the little boy in this story could not be more ready! Told in the second person, this book follows a young black boy as he gets ready for school and heads out to experience all that Kindergarten has to offer. The enthusiasm in this book is infectious, and it’s excellent for kids ages 4 to 6 who are preparing for their own first day of school.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi – Unhei is very nervous about starting school in America after moving from Korea. She’s especially anxious about whether or not the kids at school will be able to pronounce her name, so decides to pick an American name. When her classmates learn she will be choosing a new name, they all write down ideas for her and put them in a jar, hoping to help her pick the right one. But along the way, a new friend learns her Korean name and its special meaning, and soon Unhei has no need for a name jar. You can also find this book on our list of books about immigrants and refugees.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson – Being different can be hard, and sometimes feeling like we don’t fit in keep us from doing what we want to do. This lovely book is a reminder that we all feel like outsiders sometimes, but we can all find the courage to put ourselves in new situations or try new things. And when we have the courage to be ourselves, it can help others do the same! A great book for the first day of school, or any time your child is facing a change.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold – This lovely book follows a classroom where everyone is welcome. Children from different countries, faiths, and backgrounds come together to learn, grow, and play. This book would be a great classroom gift for your teacher! You can also find this book on our list of 101 Diverse Picture Books.
It’s Back to School We Go by Ellen Jackson – It’s not just kids in the United States that go back to school! In this book, readers will meet kids from all over the world who are getting ready for the first day of school. Although this book shows the many different things about schools around the world, it also shows that whether you are a little girl in Kenya or a young Inuit boy in Canada, the first day of school is a fun and exciting time! I recommend this book for kids ages 5 and up.
Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous by Keith Calabrese – Lena is NOT nervous about the first day of school. Nope. Not at all. Her shoes, however…they’re a little scared. And Lena can’t go to school without her favorite shoes. Thankfully, Lena’s dad has a plan to get her shoes ready to face this big change with Lena. I really loved this sweet and creative book, and it’s a great choice to read with your child that’s preparing for Kindergarten
Mina’s First Day of School by Katrina Liu – Written in traditional Chinese, Pinyin, and English, this story follows young Mina as she meets new friends on the first day of school. This simple story is an excellent introduction to the Chinese language, and is perfect for kids ages 4 and up.
Rosie Goes to Preschool by Karen Katz – Preschool is a big transition for kids, and no one does diverse books for this age group better than Karen Katz. This board book follows a multicultural group of young children as they enjoy preschool together. This is great to share with kids ages 1 through 5 who are experiencing daycare or preschool for the first time.
Sumi’s First Day of School Ever by Soyung Pak – The first day of school is scary for any child, but Sumi is especially scared. She’s only lived in America a short time, and the only phrase she knows in English is, “Hello, my name is Sumi.” School is loud and intimidating, and some children are mean to Sumi. She’s not sure she can get through the day. However, a kind teacher and a new friend help make Sumi’s day easier. I’ve found that little ones really respond to Sumi’s story, and feel very protective when others mistreat her. I highly recommend sharing this book with all kids ages 3 and up.
I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien – Being the new kid at school is hard, but it’s especially hard when you’re starting school in a new country. This book follows three children from Guatemala, Korea, and Somalia as they start school in the United States. With lots of support from their community, they are able to adapt to life in their new home while retaining their cultural identity.
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting – Farah feels like an outsider in her class. She’s new to America, she doesn’t speak English well, and some of the children in her new class are unkind. It takes a class field trip to an apple orchard for Farah to realize that there are elements of her old home in her new one, and making apple cider offers a way that she can bond with her classmates. For the first time, America begins to feel like it could be home.
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex – Frederick Douglass Elementary School is nervous. It’s the first day of school, and the school doesn’t know what to expect! Will the children like him? Will they be nice to him? The school soon realizes that he isn’t the only who is nervous about the first day of school, and he soon comes to love his new role as a place to support children. I love this book so much for the way it communicates diversity and acceptance, and recommend it as a first day of school read for elementary schoolers of any age.
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