Starting school - or even along toddling to nursery - marks a major milestone in your child’s life. Not to mention your life, too. Take a step back and breathe. But along with all the excitement, there will almost certainly be some nerves. Not sure how to approach this subject? We've found the best books to prepare your child for nursery or school.
Not only is storytime a fantastic opportunity to spend time quality together, but it can open healthy discussions. In this case, you will be talking about school. Here, you can talk about all aspects of all school and answer any questions or concerns that your little one may have. They're probably feeling just as nervous as you are!
Books are an interactive and engaging way to get them excited about a new chapter in their life. Mother & Baby especially love picture books. They're a great tool for teaching your child about school and the visual element will help them engage more and give space for them to open up.
Without further ado, here are some of the best books to prepare your child for nursery or school. We've also taken into account different personality types and worries that your little ones may have.
The best books to prepare your child for nursery or school UK 2022
Lily is starting school – so of course her wingman Blue Kangaroo is coming too. With the focus on Blue Kangaroo and his antics in their new classroom, this is perfect for children who like a fantasy element in their books. The result is a charming and indirectly reassuring story, with plenty of real-life detail about reception, too. Plus, Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations are a treat, as always.
Puddle is excited to start nursery - but when the big day comes, he gets cold feet. Mummy cleverly packs some special things in his bag to help him: a feather to remind him of her, biscuits to share with his new friends and his cuddly for nap time. Her tokens see him through an exciting first day, counting caterpillars, jumping between lily pads and decorating twigs. A perfect confidence boost for any two to three-year-olds (especially a sensitive flower!) starting nursery or pre-school.
This is the all-time classic reception-ready book, and rightly so. The Ahlbergs’ delightfully accurate account of the first term at primary school has barely dated – from the first day when the children ‘look at the toilets’ to the Nativity play, via chickenpox and phonics. Unusually, it’s about a whole group of children, rather than an individual: a great way to show children that their peers are going through the same things that they are.
Marshall stands out from the other children (his laces are straight, not crisscrossed, and he’s always looking at the blackboard), but he quickly wins everyone over and shows you can be different and still loved. An important story for all children that teaches them to celebrate their individuality and embrace their own quirks. Not only that, but it encourages them to embrace others who are different. One for old souls, and little boys who couldn’t care less about football.
Shirley Hughes is the master of making every day into a warm, humorous story, and this classic – told from the point of view of an older and younger sibling – is no exception. There are plenty of familiar classroom and playground scenes to provide talking points, with a nice balance between home and school. Deliciously nostalgic, it’ll take you back to your own primary school days and your first teacher, too.
Straightforward, fun and factual, all the Topsy and Tim books are geared toward helping children navigate new situations. They might seem a bit bland, but they really appeal to four-year-olds - perhaps because there’s something comforting about the way the twins are a little team. You can even download some activity sheets, courtesy of Penguin.
Read More: Topsy & Tim School Activity Sheets
Important subjects like bullying, problem-solving and friendship are tackled in this fun semi-fantasy story of a future inventor, who finds an ingenious way to beat the bullies. Don’t be put off by the open discussion of bullying. Many children respond well to having their fears voiced in a safe way, like this. A good one for slightly older children who may already be in their first term at reception, and a nice way to ignite discussion of how to deal with bullying in the real world.
All toddlers seem to love Maisy and her first experiences at nursery. We love Maisy, too. We see Maisy find her coat peg, play outside with sand, make a lot of noise with instruments, and have a snack and loo break. Try this if you have a child on the autistic spectrum. Lucy Cousins' bold illustrations tend to work well with children with ASD as there isn’t a load of background detail to distract their focus.
This book is such a sweet, gentle story. Chester racoon is nervous about going to school and wants to stay at home with his mother. Gradually, Chester learns that her love is always with him, even when he's at school. This book is perfect for anxious children who hate to say goodbye to you in the morning.
Warning: Do not read after an emotional day or a glass of wine, you’ll probably start crying.