It's September and children in North America -- and in many places around the world -- are headed off to school. Happily, there's a great diverse collection of books about that experience in which young students can see themselves reflected.
In our first post, here are some delightful titles on three topics.
These titles feature either main characters who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), or multiracial casts of students in typical stories about starting public school -- with all its excitement and anxiety. Young children will find lots of reassurance here about what school might be like and how others have navigated that first big day:
Lena is excited about starting kindergarten but her favorite shoes are not until, with the help of her father and a very special headband, she convinces the shoes--and herself--to be brave.
"Twenty young students, some eager, some nervous, some grumpy, prepare for their very first day of kindergarten"- -|cProvided by publisher
Ming goes to preschool, where she bravely plays all kinds of games with new friends and old, but she is still not quite ready for the big red slide.
"Makwa has to go to a new school ... and he doesn't want to. How will he face his first day?" One book in The Seven Teachings Stories series. The Seven Teachings of the Anishinaabe—love, wisdom, humility, courage, respect, honesty and truth—are revealed in seven stories for children. Set in urban landscapes, Indigenous children tell familiar stories about home, school and community. --publisher
Rosie can’t wait to start kindergarten—she’s had her pencils sharpened and her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, on the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly, and she’ll feel better soon. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she says hello to a new friend on the bus, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! As the day goes on, Rosie frees all her butterflies, and even helps another shy student let go of hers, too. -- publisher
Lola Goes to School (2019)
Lola and her family prepare for the first day of school the night before, then get up early, take pictures, and head to class. Lola puts her things in her cubby, chooses her activities, reads, plays, and has a snack. Before she knows it, it’s time to sing the good-bye song and rush into Mommy’s arms for a warm reunion. A comforting, cheerful read that demystifies the school day for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
The King of Kindergarten (2019)
Starting kindergarten is a big milestone—and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements—and then wake up to start another day.
Then there are going-to-school books with rich content about particular racial or cultural group experiences:
"The first day at a new school is nerve-wracking enough, never mind when it's in a new country! In this lively picture book from award-winning storyteller Itah Sadu, Roy realizes he may come to love his new home in Canada as much as he loves his old home in Jamaica"--Provided by publisher
"Nimoshom drives the kids in the community to school every morning. On the way, he always has something to say to them. Nimoshom and His Bus introduces basic Cree words."-- |cProvided by publisher
Identifies in Spanish and English objects and people found at school
Around the World
While children love to see their own school experiences featured in picture books, it's also fascinating to see how the experiences of students in other countries is similar to and/or different from their own:
""What is a school? Is it a building with classrooms? Or can it be any place where children learn?" The fascinating stories that follow will expand how young readers think of school, as they learn about the experiences of real children in thirteen different countries around the world" --Publisher's website
The following has a 2019 edition coming soon!
Depicts children in elementary schools all over the world, and describes what all these different kinds of school have in common.
For more than 200 other picture books that portray a diverse array of school experiences featuring BIPOC characters, search our database here.