Back to School Books

— Parents' Choice Foundation
Updated on May 2, 2014

Going back to school can be both exciting and daunting for children of all ages - and even dogs, aliens, and aardvarks. With the help of a few endearing characters starring in these first "class" romps, the coming school days are sure to be filled with learning and a healthy dose of laughter.

Oh My Baby, Little One Ages: 2 - 4 yrs. Author: Kathi Appelt   Illustrator: Jane Dyer   Harcourt Brace & Company, $16.00 (Hard Cover)    With more and more mothers returning to work, and more and more small children entering daycare at a tender age, this lilting rhymed text accompanied by warm-hearted, accomplished watercolor illustrations will comfort both adult readers and youngest listeners. A mother bird is leaving her fledging at nursery school, but she assures him, in verse upon verse, that “…even when I’m far away / this love I have will stay / and wrap itself around you / every minute of the day.”

How I Spent My Summer Vacation How I Spent My Summer Vacation Ages: 3 - 7 yrs. By: Mark Teague   Random House Children's Books/ Yearling, $6.99 (Paperback) This endearing romp with an appealingly old-fashioned young hero quickly dispels any comparisons to that drearily familiar back-to-school exercise we all know so well. Teague's compelling pictures, just a tad surreal in quality, entice us to join small Wallace Bleff on his train trip Westward "to visit Aunt Fern in her house on the plains." That this abode bears a startling resemblance to Aunt Em's pad in The Wizard of Oz just adds to the homey atmosphere of the tale. 

The Awful Aardvarks Go To School Ages: 3 - 8 yrs. Author: Reeve Lindbergh   Illustrator: Tracey Campbell Pearson   Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers/Puffin Books, $5.99 (Paperback) When a pack of awful aardvarks go to school, the results are delightfully disastrous. They anger the anteater and flick fleas at Freddie Frog as they storm their way through the classroom and through the alphabet. The hilarious illustrations are the perfect match for the non-stop humor of the rhymes in this fun-filled alphabet book. Book Description

Baloney (Henry P.) Baloney (Henry P.) Ages: 4 - 8 yrs. Author: Jon Scieszka   Illustrator: Lane Smith   Penguin Putnam Inc./Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (Hard Cover)    Our young green-faced alien, Henry P. Baloney, arrives late at school once too often. His teacher, Miss Bugscuffle, wants to know the reason why. Henry embarks on a creative excuse, and naturally as an alien, he continues to use "alien" words (for translations of them see Decoder at the back of the book). Overcome with admiration of his magnificent tall tale, Miss Bugscuffle asks Henry to write down his story.Once Upon an Ordinary School Day 

Once Upon an Ordinary School Day Ages: 5 - 8 yrs. Author: Colin McNaughton   Illustrator: Satoshi Kitamura   Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)    The boy's breakfast is ordinary, his walk to school is ordinary, even his thoughts are ordinary. But when he goes to his classroom and sits down at his desk, his day begins to change - a new teacher, Mr. Gee, bursts into the classroom with an extraordinary idea that challenges all the children to use their imagination. Suddenly an ordinary day is turned topsy-turvy, and the boy is inspired in a way that will change him forever. Book Description

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