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The best books for starting school

Starting school can be exciting for some children, but terrifying for others. We've rounded up some lovely books to help ease kids (and their parents!) into the new world of the classroom.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Oct 12, 2023

Children in classroom

Starting preschool books

Goat Goes to Playgroup by Julia Donaldson, £6.99

Goat goes to playgroup book

Humorously illustrated by Nick Sharratt and packed full of Julia Donaldson's distinctive rhymes and rhythms, Goat Goes to Playgroup is the perfect introduction to playgroups or nursery for toddlers.

“This is a favourite of my three-year-old. I know 'playgroup' makes it sound like toddler group but it's a nursery setting, very sweet and funny. DS likes matching up the parents with the children on the last page which shows home time.”

Read next: The best school bags to buy, as recommended by Mumsnetters

Busy Nursery by Angie Rozelaar, £5.99

Baby Nursery

Busy Nursery is a thoroughly interactive board book, ideal for curious fingers and minds who want to experience nursery firsthand. The book's gentle rhymes and eye-catching illustrations go even further to bring the start of school to life.

“All these books are great. They're lift-the-flap but very sturdy – perfect for inquisitive babies.”

“My toddler likes the Busy Books series with all its wheels to spin and tabs to pull.”

My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards, £5.65

First day at nursery book

The little girl in this vibrant, spirited book is initially not convinced about the benefits of this place called nursery (as opposed to those of her home and mother). However, all it takes is a bit of crafting, dancing and meeting new friends to get her to change her tune.

“My son starts nursery in September and the book has been a help. It is American but that's not a problem – the only different spelling in the book is 'Mom', which I change anyway.”

“I second this – fab. We still read it together now and she's starting school now. Really did the job for us.”

Starting school books

Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, £5.94

Starting School

Fun and humorous, as well as reassuring, this tale from children's book veterans the Ahlbergs will surely ease any starting school nerves. Moreover, it simply serves as a lovely read too.

“I'd really recommend this – it has the loveliest detailed little pictures and is very informative for young children about lots of different aspects of school life.”

“DS loved Starting School. He could recite all the names of the children, I was not allowed to miss a single one. He loved their activities, the rhythm of their days, weeks and terms. The only disappointment he had was that their class had no bunny rabbit to look after!”

Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark, £5.99

Come to School book

The Blue Kangaroo books are much-loved among Mumsnet users, and this one (the eighth in the series) is no exception. Sensitive and reassuring, its characters Lily and Blue Kangaroo demonstrate just how much fun there is to be had in the classroom.

“I recommend the Blue Kangaroo books as much as I can because DS loved them. We have most of them.”

“The great thing is, they aren't too bad to read aloud for the millionth time in quick succession!”

I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child, £5.65

Charlie and Lola school book

Big brother Charlie reassures Lola when she claims her invisible friend is too nervous to go to school. The third title in the classic Charlie and Lola series from former Children's Laureate Lauren Child deals sympathetically with pre-school fears, as well as persuading the reader gently of the advantages of the classroom – such as being able to write to Father Christmas…

“10 out of 10 – my four-year-old daughter loves this book. It was the perfect preparation for reception as it covered many of the normal fears about starting school. A huge hit!”

“Another vote for the Charlie and Lola one… it's brilliant!”

Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow, £5.95

Harry and the Dinosaurs book

Harry and his dinosaurs are excited about their first day at school (and maybe a bit nervous). But when things don't go to plan, Harry's not so sure about school after all. This is a fun and lively twist on the school story that focuses on why making friends can make everything better. D'awww.

“It's quite realistic and not overly 'Hoorah! School!'. It quite subtly acknowledges that some children find it scary and want familiar things around them, but also shows the possibilities of school.”

Prices correct at time of publication.