5 Books You Need for Your Rising Kindergartener: From a Therapist Mom
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
It's "back to school" time! Summer is ending, school supplies are being packed into backpacks, lunch boxes are being filled to the brim, and many doe-eyed 5-year-olds (and their parents) are about to embark on the school adventure of a lifetime - myself, my husband, and my oldest son included. (Cue tears here!) As a therapist, I often get inquiries about book recommendations for preparing kids for school, so I wanted to create a special kindergarten compilation in honor of my own family's big leap into elementary school.
As a book-loving family, I set out on a mission to find books to help my son prepare for this new venture. There are a lot of great books out there (and I went through quite a few of them), but my goal was to focus on finding books that introduced him to kindergarten and some of the core social-emotional skills I wanted to be able to reinforce throughout the year: kindness, mindfulness, helpful choices, and effective boundaries.
I ended up hitting the jackpot with a set of books that does a great job at introducing and reinforcing these concepts.
Keep reading for some fantastic books that have been incredibly helpful to our family and that I highly recommend reading to prepare your child for this exciting time!
Disclosure: I only share resources I highly recommend and would use myself. All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links on which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
by Diane Romo, Illustrated by Annie Wilkinson
This book is simple and inclusive. I loved this book as a way to introduce kids to what kindergarten looks like from a transitional standpoint. It talks about getting ready in the morning, different modes of transportation, different family compositions, it walks through a day of kindergarten, and introduces important grownups you typically find at school. Being introduced to some of what might happen during a big change can help young minds internalize big transitions more quickly. Books (and this book in particular) are a great way to accomplish this introduction!
By Vera Ahiyya, Illustrated by Joey Chou
This book quickly became a favorite for both me and my son. It follows a quiet boy name Leo during his first day in kindergarten where he learns that kindness comes not just from words, but also from actions. This is a wonderful book to reinforce the importance of kindness and it opens up the door for important conversations about how your child and family can use actions and words to show kindness every day. The beautiful illustrations are truly the icing on the cake.
By Andrea Dorn
It's never too early to begin to introduce the basic concepts of mindfulness and that's exactly what this book was created for. My family comes back to this book again and again for the gentle reminder that being mindful simply starts with stopping, breathing, and noticing. This book is perfect for helping kids who are about to enter school begin to learn how to be aware of their body and thoughts. This book can be used beginning to end or you can skip to the parts that make the most sense to practice that day. We often use this book and the included engagement questions just as a way to check-in and connect at the end of the day.
By Ganit and Adir Levy, Illustrated by Mat Sadler
My kids love the "What Should Danny Do?" series. (You can also check out the similar and beloved "What Should Darla Do?" Series!) This book is a choose your own adventure book that walks through a school day and allows kids to practice making thoughtful and effective choices that determine how effectively (or not effectively) the day goes. Danny encounters challenges getting ready for school, with an unkind classmate, and with a tricky problem during science class (to name a few). This series, and this book in particular is fantastic at helping kids learn the power of their choices. (My kids also enjoy picking the not-so-helpful choices to see what happens and so we can go back and try again!)
By Christina Furnival, Illustrated by Katie Dwyer
As a therapist, I often have parents worry about how to empower their children to handle kids that aren't being so nice. This is my go-to recommendation. It makes boundary setting more approachable and gives kids language to use to respectfully stand up for themselves and others when other kids are being "not-so-friendly." I find this book also helps grown-ups find the language to redirect children who aren't being friendly without being shameful. As my child begins to navigate a world of friendships where I won't be right by his side, I'm glad there are books like these that demonstrate helpful ways to work through conflict.
I hope you find these recommendations to be helpful additions to your child's library.
Happy reading and happy, happy back to school!