Book Lists

10 Picture Books to Start the School Year

  1. Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

This book is about the number Zero. Zero feels that he has no value compared to all of the other numbers. He is struggling to find a way to fit in. Then, with the help of his friends, he realizes that he is not an empty number. Instead, he can help his friends count higher than they ever could on their own! This book is an excellent way to remind your children that everyone is important. Everyone has value. Together, everyone can combine their talents and go places they could never have gone on their own.

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

2. One by Kathryn Otoshi

This book is about colors . . . all of the colors are friends, except Red. Instead of being friendly, Red picks on all of the colors. No one stops him until One comes along. One stands up to Red, showing him that it is not right to push the other colors around. In the end, Red learns that he can have friends if he will just be friendly. As the school year begins, children can be reminded being unkind to others is not acceptable. Instead, if they want to have friends, they need to be friendly to everyone. Children can also be reminded that they need to stand up for themselves and for others when someone is being unkind. It is important that everyone seeks to be friendly to all.

One by Kathryn Otoshi

3. Two by Kathryn Otoshi

This book is about the lucky number Two. Two was best friends with One, but soon One becomes friends with others. It seems that Two must choose . . . will she try to fit in with the odds? Or will she leave with the evens? Two does not want to have to choose. Instead, she is able to convince the odds and evens that they can all be friends. What an important lesson! This book will remind children that it is okay to have more than one friend. In fact, we should be friendly to everyone! We should also be a peace-maker, seeking to join people together rather than breaking them apart.

Two by Kathryn Otoshi

4. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

This book is an excellent book to read with your little one who is off to school for the first time. In the story, the young racoon is reminded that even if he is apart from his mother, she still loves him and looks forward to his return. To help ease the jitters on his first day of school, the mother places a kiss on the young racoon’s hand. Now, whenever he is missing his mother, he can put the kissed hand up to his cheek and remember that his mom loves him. Mamas, this would be a great book and practice for your little one who might be heading off to school or daycare for the first time. Teachers, this would be a great way to begin on the first day of school to remind your sweet students that school is safe and fun, but their parents love them and are excited to see them at the end of the day.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

5. Scribble Stones by Diane Alber

This is a cute little story about a stone who knew that he had a special purpose in life . . . he just didn’t know what it was yet. When the Scribbles came along, the little stone realized his purpose . . . to be colorful and make others smile. Soon, the whole pile of stones were colored, decorated, and headed around the world to share joy with others! What a wonderful way to remind your students that they each have a purpose and the ability to bring joy to others!

Scribble Stones by Diane Alber

Bonus: Scribble Stones Art Guide

Scribble Stones Art Guide

6. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Unlike many children’s picture books, this book does not have the happy ending that one would expect. In the story, a girl chooses to be unkind, judgmental, and exclude the new girl in the class. When the teacher demonstrates the importance of kindness, the girl determines that next time she would be kinder. However, she doesn’t get a “next time.” While this book has an unexpected and sad ending, children are reminded of the importance of being kind right now, while they have the opportunity. Don’t wait to show kindness.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

7. You Are Special by Max Lucado

This book teaches a powerful lesson about the uniqueness of each person. In the story, the Wemmicks spend their day giving star stickers to those with special talents or beautiful features and dot stickers to others who were considered ugly or ordinary. In the end, Punchinello learns that each Wemmick was created by the Carver to be unique from all of the other Wemmicks. If Punchinello can be confident in the way that the Carver created him to be, then none of the stickers would stick to him. This sweet story will remind children that every person is different in their looks, talents, and even their weaknesses. In life, people will try to praise your talents and criticize your weaknesses. If we live for one and are discouraged by the other, then life will be a rollercoaster. Instead, children (and us!) should rest in the fact that God created us exactly the way He wanted us to be. Only His praise should matter.

You Are Special by Max Lucado

8. If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado

This book talks about a different aspect of being special. In the story, the Wemmicks are consumed with wanting to follow the latest fashion trend and fit in . . . by painting their nose green. Eli the Carver tells Punchinello that he created each Wemmick to be special and unique, but instead, they were always trying to make themselves the same. Despite Eli’s comments, Punchinello and his friends soon fell to the peer pressure and painted their noses green. Just as they though they were fitting in, the trend changed and once again the Wemmicks were lined up to get their noses painted red. When Punchinello and his friends realized that no one could ever truly keep up with the trends, they asked Eli to make them themselves again. While it took some time, Eli promised to always help them be who he had created them to be. This story will remind your children that it is too hard to keep up with the latest trends to be considered special and accepted by their peers. Instead, they should embrace they way God made them rather than chasing the ever-changing popular trends.

If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado

9. The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff

This books shines a light on how silly holding a grudge can be. In the town of Bonnyripple, the townspeople were constantly bothering one another. When one person would bother another, the incident was written on a small piece of paper and given to the Grudge Keeper to be stored and never forgotten. Soon, a big wind swept through the town and the poor Grudge Keepers house was covered by all of the town’s grudges. When the townspeople came to see, they realized how silly each of their grudges were. They began to forgive one another and as a result? The grudges were thrown away. It is important to be reminded that it is silly to hang on to arguments or mistakes made by others. Instead of making ourselves miserable by keeping a mental list of people’s wrongs, we should be quick to forgive.

The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff

10. What Am I Feeling? By Dr. Josh & Christi Straub

This has a simple story with a powerful message. Whether we like it or not, God created us with emotions. Our emotions are powerful and if we are not careful, we can give them control of our actions, especially our negative emotions. This book teaches children to think about what they are feeling, give the feeling a name (i.e. fear, anger, or happiness), and then make a choice. What am I feeling? How am I going to act with this feeling? Despite our emotions, we always have a choice in how we act. Understanding our emotions and our choices can make a difference in behavior.

What Am I Feeling? by Dr. Straub

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2 thoughts on “10 Picture Books to Start the School Year”

  1. These are perfect as I am going to be babysitting for various ages and reading levels, and I have my back to school theme next! Thanks for the suggestions!

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