The first day of school can trigger many different emotions for children and adults alike. As parents, we want our little ones to feel prepared and excited. Teachers want each one of their students to feel loved and included. The magic of read-alouds is one of the best ways to foster connection, understanding, and the reassurance that we’re never alone, no matter how we may feel.

Scroll for a list of our favorite books with their Amazon descriptions below. 


First Day Jitters

by Julie Danneberg and Judy Love

Sarah Jane Hartwell has that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach–she’s nervous and doesn’t want to start a new school year. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With a little convincing from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly heads to class. Shy at first, she’s quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton and reminded that everyone at school gets the jitters sometimes. A beloved and bestselling back to schools staple, Sarah Jane’s familiar story, and its surprise ending will delight seasoned students and new faces alike who are anxious about their first day.


I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience

by Susan Verde

Encourage kids to find their inner strength with this companion to the New York Times bestsellers I Am Human and I Am Love!

I move ahead one breath at a time.

I act with bravery.

I am courage.

When we picture someone brave, we might think they’re fearless; but real courage comes from feeling scared and facing what challenges us anyway. When our minds tell us “I can’t,” we can look inside ourselves and find the strength to say, “Yes, I CAN!” From the New York Times bestselling team behind the I Am series comes a triumphant celebration of everyday courage: believing in ourselves, speaking out, trying new things, asking for help, and getting back up no matter how many times we may fall. Grounded in mindfulness and awareness, I Am Courage is an empowering reminder that we can conquer anything.


Our Class is a Family

by Shannon Olsen

With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen that class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family.


A Letter From Your Teacher: On the First Day of School 

by Shannon Olsen

From the author and illustrator of Our Class is a Family, this heartwarming picture book helps teachers in welcoming their new group of students on the first day of school. Through a letter written from the teacher’s point of view, students are given the message that their new teacher is someone they will get to form a special bond with. Their teacher is not only there to help them academically, but also to cheer them on, and to provide a caring, safe environment for them to learn and grow.

During back-to-school time, teachers are wanting to set the tone for the new year. In addition to establishing rules and procedures, they are ready to get to know their kids and start building positive relationships. This is a read-aloud that helps with laying that foundation, and it serves as a great starting point for get-to-know-you activities and class community building.


First Day Critter Jitters

by Jory John

It’s almost the first day of school, and the animals are nervous. Sloth worries about getting there on time, snake can’t seem to get his backpack fastened onto his body, and bunny is afraid she’ll want to hop around instead of sitting still. When they all arrive at their classroom, though, they’re in for a surprise: Somebody else is nervous too. It’s their teacher, the armadillo! He has rolled in as a ball, and it takes him a while to relax and unfurl. But by the next day, the animals have all figured out how to help one another through their jitters. School isn’t so scary after all.


The Night Before Kindergarten

by Natasha Wing

It’s the first day of school! Join the kids as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all–saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. But maybe it won’t be so hard once they discover just how much fun kindergarten really is! Colorful illustrations illuminate this uplifting takeoff on the classic Christmas poem.


The Night Before First Grade

by Natasha Wing

It’s the night before the Big Day-first grade! Penny is excited to start the year with her best friend right beside her in the same classroom. This humorous take on Clement C. Moore’s classic tale has a perfect twist ending that will surprise readers as well as the “heroine” of the story and help all about-to-be first-graders through their own back-to-school jitters.


Curious George’s First Day of School

by H. A. Rey 

George is excited to start his first day of school! There are so many new lessons for a curious little monkey to learn. . . .  But first, can he learn to be Mr. Apple’s special helper?

It’s the first day of school and George has been invited to Mr. Apple’s class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job—that is, until he starts to make his usual mischief. A mixture of red and yellow paint makes orange . . . a mixture of yellow and blue makes green . . . and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess! After a speedy adventure up and down the halls of the school, George and Mr. Apple clean up the classroom—with a little help from George’s new friends.  


All Are Welcome

by Alexandra Penfold

In our classroom safe and sound.

Fears are lost and hope is found.

Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated. Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.


Mae’s First Day of School 

by Kate Berube 

As Mae’s first day of school approaches she decides she IS. NOT. GOING. School is scary! What if the other kids don’t like her? Or what if she’s the only one who doesn’t know how to write? Or what if she misses her mom? Mae’s anxiety only builds as she walks to school. But then she meets Rosie and Ms. Pearl. Will making new friends show her that they can conquer their fears together?  


The Berenstain Bears Go to School

by Stan and Jan Berenstain 

Come for a visit in Bear Country with this classic storybook from Stan and Jan Berenstain. All the cubs in Bear Country are ready for the new school year . . . except for Sister Bear. She is about to start kindergarten, but can’t stop worrying about what it will be like. Will her teacher be nice? Will she make friends? What will she do all day in class? 


A Little SPOT of Kindness!

by Diane Alber

From saying please to sharing toys, your child will learn how to spread kindness in everyday situations at school and at home! Join a little SPOT on a journey as he SPOTS kindness and shows children a fun way to remember to be kind too!


Be Kind

by Pat Zietlow Miller

When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind? From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend. With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.


Brave Ninja: A Children’s Book About Courage

by Mary Nhin and Grow Grit Press

Sometimes, it helps to BE brave even when we aren’t FEELING brave.

In this comedic story about developing courage, Brave Ninja finds a way to calm fears and soothe anxiety so that Brave Ninja can become the best ninja possible!


I Am Enough

by Grace Byers  

This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.


My Magical Choices

by Becky Cummings 

No more, “I can’t, I don’t know, or I’m not!” As you use My Magical Choices to teach your children positive, conscious language, they will choose to be responsible, calm, confident, fun, a good sport, forgiving, generous and more! Boys and girls will be instantly drawn to the beautiful illustrations and fun rhymes that empower them to be responsible for their own happiness. Parents and teachers love the social-emotional message that greatness comes by making the choice to take positive actions towards a goal. These actions create feelings of happiness inside and help develop lifelong healthy habits.


Shy Ninja: A Children’s Book About Social-Emotional Learning and Overcoming Social Anxiety

by Mary Nhin and Grow Grit Press 

Extreme shyness causes Shy Ninja to miss out on normal, everyday activities. For example, Shy Ninja would experience fear, shaking, and anxiety. Things change when a friend introduces Shy Ninja to a very F.U.N. method to reduce symptoms of social anxiety. Find out what happens in this book about overcoming social anxiety.


Kindness is my Superpower: A children’s Book About Empathy,  Kindness, and Compassion

by Alicia Ortego

This charming story with peaceful rhymes and colorful illustrations will explain to your child that it is okay to make a mistake and say I’m sorry. Lucas will teach your child good manners and positive behavior at home, at school, in the store, and on the playground.


The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson 

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art remind us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.


A Little SPOT of Worry

by Diane Alber 

Companion to the best-selling children’s book “A Little SPOT of Anxiety” (coping strategies) this story was to created to help children learn how to control their worries (management strategies)! A little Worry SPOT helps children identify the two different types of WORRIES. A USEFUL WORRY (a worry that can help keep you safe) and a SPINNING WORRY (an IMAGINED worry that prevents you from doing something safe and fun). If you are able to recognize the difference between the two you can prevent a SPINNING WORRY from turning into a BIG ANXIETY SPOT.


Brave the Beaver Has the Worry Warts

by Misty B

A calming story for bedtime, the classroom, or therapy, to help children understand their worries and calm their anxious minds. For ages 3-9, preschool to second grade.

Brave can’t help but worry.  But when he worries too much, his heart races and his stomach aches. When it gets really bad . . .   POP!  . . . the worry warts start popping up too!  What’s a brave beaver to do? Can Brave set aside his fears to save a friend who is in trouble? The author has teamed up with a licensed school counselor. In the back of the book, you’ll find coping strategies and practical solutions to help recognize and reduce anxiety.


Nervous Ninja: A Social-Emotional Book for Kids About Calming Worry and Anxiety

by Mary Nhin 

Do you have a child who experiences nervousness or symptoms of anxiety? Nervous Ninja knows exactly what stress and worry feels like and finds a sweet solution. Find out what happens in this fun social-emotional learning SEL book about calming your anxiety and worries.

Life is hard! And it’s even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.


I Am Human: A Book of Empathy

by Susan Verde

Being human means we are full of possibility. We learn, we dream, we wonder at the world around us. But we also make mistakes and can feel fearful or sad. From the bestselling team that created I Am Yoga, I Am Peace, I Am Love, and I Am One comes a hopeful celebration of the human family. I Am Human affirms that we can make good choices by acting with compassion and having empathy for others and ourselves. When we find common ground, we can feel connected to the great world around us and mindfully strive to be our best selves.


Anxious Ninja: A Children’s Book About Managing Anxiety and Difficult Emotions

by Mary Nhin  and Grow Grit Press

How can we help our children overcome anxiety? Anxious Ninja experiences difficult emotions that creates temporary paralysis until a friend shares some tips on how to handle anxiety.

Find out what happens in this comedic book about anxiety. Life is hard! And it’s even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.


I Can’t Do That, YET: Growth Mindset

by Esther Pia Cordova

She’s too shy to try. Can a glimpse into the future give her the courage she craves? Enna isn’t a queen of confidence. Struggling to believe in herself, the young girl is certain she doesn’t have what it takes to read during bedtime. But when she finally falls asleep, she’s greeted by a wonderful woman who’s incredibly familiar…

As the journey across her dreamscape shows her potential versions of herself, Enna is amazed at everything she’s learned how to do. But she knows all that growth won’t come free – it will take time, knowledge, and dedication. Can Enna learn to tackle challenges with a smile?

I Can’t Do That, YET is the inspiring first story in the Growth Mindset children’s picture book series. If you or your child like motivational fun, reworking negative patterns, and gorgeous visual learning, then you’ll love Esther Pia Cordova’s step forward.


Acceptance is my Superpower: A children’s Book about Diversity and Equality

by Alicia Ortego 

We are all different. And whilst children are often wonderful at accepting differences easily, there are times when a lack of understanding can result in hurtful words or actions.  As adults, it is our responsibility to teach children that differences are not flaws but are, in fact, our superpowers.


A Little SPOT of Confidence: A Story About Believing In Yourself

by Diane Alber 

Confidence plays an important role in a child’s future happiness, health, and success. Confident children are better equipped to deal with peer pressure, challenges and negative emotions. A little SPOT of Confidence is a story that uses an orange spot to help a child visual there confidence spot growing or shrinking. It shows a child real world situations on how they can grow their confidence SPOT.


A Little SPOT of Anxiety: A Story About Calming Your Worries

by Diane Alber 

Anxiety comes from feelings of being worried, scared, or anxious. When these feelings are in small amounts that’s okay because they are there to help protect us, but when they get TOO BIG, they become overwhelming and need to be managed. When a child experiences anxiety it can prevent them from doing what he/she wants and and/or needs to do, which can make anxiety a disability. This story addresses how anxiety can affect all ages and how it can show up in all different situations. The Gray SPOT in the story creates a visual representation of Anxiety so that a child can see when it’s gets too big, and how to shrink it back to a Green PEACEFUL SPOT.


Don’t Feed The WorryBug: A Children’s Book About Worry

by Andi Green

Say hello to Wince, one of the biggest worriers you will ever meet. From cookies to homework to the weather, Wince worries about everything.  And when Wince starts to worry, his WorryBug appears. At first the WorryBug is small and non-threatening, but the more Wince Worries the more his WorryBug grows. Don’t Feed The WorryBug is great story to start the conversation on worry and anxiety. We all worry, it happens, but the key is to not let those worries aka the WorryBug grow to the point that it ruins your day.


Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids 

by Carol McCloud 

While using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our OWN bucket! Conversely, when we choose to say or do mean things, we are dipping into buckets. All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other’s buckets by what we say and what we do. When you’re a bucket filler, you make the world a better place to be!


Sara The Bucket Filler: A Story About Showing Kindness and Being Happy

by Rivka Fishman and Miriam Sin-Shalom

Every person in the world has an invisible bucket that holds their good thoughts and feelings. When our buckets are full, that means we feel good about ourselves and we are happy. When our buckets are full, that means we feel good about ourselves and we are happy. When our buckets are empty, that means we feel bad about ourselves and we may become sad or angry.

Join Sara as she learns how to fill other people’s buckets-by giving compliments, helping without being asked, expressing love, and being kind. You will discover, just as Sara did, that by filling other people’s buckets, your own bucket also gets filled up. And that makes you – and the people in your life – happier and kinder every single day!


Benny the Brave in The First Day Jitters (Team Supercrew Series): A children’s book about big emotions, bravery, and first day of school jitters

by Julie Anne Penn and Darren Penn  

First day? New school? New experience? Feeling scared? Benny the Brave is here to help!

Meet Sarah. She’s about to start a new school that’s on a distant planet. She doesn’t have any friends yet. Her teacher may or may not be a swamp creature. And worse, lunch looks like it’s wriggling, slimy and alive! But just before the school bus arrives, Team Supercrew’s Benny the Brave comes to the rescue! Team Supercrew’s Benny the Brave reminds kids that they have the power to be BRAVE inside of them whenever they need it! Benny the Brave reminds Sarah that her worst-case fears are okay, and that she has the power to change these thoughts. She has the power to be BRAVE, and it just might be closer to find than she thinks.


About the Authors

Apara Autism Center is a leading provider of ABA therapy in Texas. We understand the difficulty of dealing with uncertainty and are prepared to assist you with our collaborative developmental therapy support. If you’re looking for ABA therapy near you, we have centers in Houston, Dallas, and surrounding areas. Apara Autism Center employs a team of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) that can assist you with resources to help comfort your child during stressful times. If you need more information, don’t hesitate to call (844) 272-7223 or contact us with your questions and concerns.