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Best books about starting school

Topsy and Tim Start School
‘Big School’ can seem like an overwhelming place to Reception starters. Make the school-gates goodbyes a little easier by helping your child find out all about school, from lunch boxes to reading corners and name pegs. Here’s our pick of the best starting-school reads to look through together.








Going to School

(Usborne, £2.80)

A friendly, confidence-boosting introduction to life at school, featuring Stephen Cartwright’s detailed illustrations. A sticker book version is also available.

Charlie and Lola – I am too absolutely small for school

(Orchard Books, £6.99)

A modern classic from Lauren Child, I am too absolutely small for school covers all aspects of starting school with warmth and humour (Lola thinks it might be useful to read and write and count, but feels she doesn’t really have time for school – she’s busy doing extremely important things at home). It’s a joy to reread a few hundred times – and you’ll definitely be doing that!

Starting School

(Puffin, £6.99)

The first term of Reception, from first day to Nativity play, is detailed in Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s beginner’s guide to life at primary school. It’s beautifully illustrated and packed with the promise of exciting times to come.

Max and Millie start school

(Usborne, £3.30)

What will happen during the school day? This simple story provides plenty of information, as well as reassurance that you will be at the school gates to hear all about it at going-home time!

Bobbo goes to school

(Bodley Head, £6.99)

A new story from Shirley Hughes, the author and illustrator of the Alfie series, this is the story of Lily’s toy Bobbo and his adventure at school. (If you love Shirley Hughes and her work you’ll also enjoy Lucy & Tom Go to School, first published in the 1970s.)

Martha & the bunnies: I Heart School

(HarperCollins, £4.11)

Upbeat and cheery, the first in a new series of books about Martha focuses on the excitement of getting ready for school. Perfect for oldest siblings as the story features younger brothers who won’t be going to school, too.

Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School

(Puffin, £6.40)

Harry’s not sure he’s going to like school when his dinosaur friends don’t join him in the classroom… but a new friend soon shows him that school can be fun! A great nerve-calming choice for Harry fans.

Billy and the Big New School

(Orchard Books, £4.90)

Billy doesn’t really want to start big school – in fact, he wishes he could stay at home with his mum. But with the help of a new friend, Billy soon discovers that big school can be a lot of fun!

Topsy and Tim Start School

(Ladybird, £4.99)

Topsy and Tim were first published fifty years ago, so you might well have been read this book yourself when you went into Reception! As well as the classic starting-school story you can read up about other aspects of primary school life like Sports Day and headlice (Topsy and Tim Sports Day and Topsy and Tim Have Itchy Heads).

Lots of things to spot at school

(Usborne, £7.99)

The busy pages in this colourful book show scenes from the school year. Look through it with your child to spot and talk about common objects in the playground, in the classroom, the school show and sports day, as well as playing simple games and puzzles. Over 200 stickers are included, too.

I'm going to school

(Buster Books, £2.81)

A bright, colourful fill-in book which introduces your child to every aspect of school life, from getting ready in the morning to break time, shapes, letters and numbers, going-home time and classmates. With lots of space for pictures and colouring-in, it's a great way to prepare for the First Day.

Going to School

(Frances Lincoln, £9.23)

A striking, colourful picture book about a little girl's day at school, packed with details to spot. As your child gets to know each of the children in the class, can they spot clues to suggest what each child wants to be when they grow up?

Never Take a Bear to School

(Kindle, £3.49)

Bears just don't fit in at school – they're too big (bigger than the teachers!), they're clumsy, they don't sit still and they're way too hungry at lunchtime. But can a little boy survive his first day at school without his furry friend? A heat-felt, warm story about rising to a big new challenge.

Alfie at Nursery School

(Red Fox Picture Books, £6.99)

A new Alfie book from Shirley Hughes is a wonderful treat. In these nursery school tales we catch up with Alfie, little sister Annie Rose and best friend Bernard as they start at Parkside Nursery School and experience playtime, being part of an exclusive playground "club" and a school concert. (If you're a new Alfie fan, stories about his everyday life are available in an Alfie collection.)

King of the Classroom

(Scallywag Press, £6.99)

Every part of a new starter's school day is celebrated in this reassuring, joyous book about a "classroom king" getting to know his classmates, classroom and teacher. A great rhyming read to build your child's excitement about their own first day.

I Have to Start at School Today

(Simon & Schuster, £6.99)

If starting school sounds a bit scary, calm any nerves with this lovely tale of scholarly tussles with a cross rhinoceros, a selfish bear and a weird baboon. Thankfully, Grandma is on hand to offer reassurance: there's no need to be gripped by fright because what if it just all goes... right?

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