Back to School for the Picture Book Set

Lynn: Shhhhh! I’m whispering this because I KNOW how Cindy hates to be reminded that the S-word is just a month away. Even though I’m retired from my school job, I still hate the idea of summer slipping away, but I want to give you all plenty of time to get these new school-related picture books on your shelves. So read, order, and then go frolic.


Dear Substitute, by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Chris Raschka

A very indignant young girl writes short letters about how the substitute teacher is getting everything wrong. She’s not cleaning out the turtle tank out even though it’s Turtle Tank Tuesday. She’s not collecting homework even though the girl stayed up late getting it done.  It seems “someone doesn’t understand how we do things in Room 102!”



Mae’s First Day of School, by Kate Berube

Mae has decided she doesn’t want to go to her first day of school! What if the other kids don’t like her? Berube’s funny take on first-day-of-school-fears reveals Mae’s unique solution: climbing a tree. First little Rosie joins Mae, then Ms. Pearl (the new teacher). The trio shares worries and decides to give school a try after all. Sweet and reassuring.


School People, by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Many people in many different roles keep a school going. Hopkins’ new collection of short poems sings the praises of bus drivers, custodians, lunch ladies, and a wide variety of what we call Specials—music teachers, theater teachers, Spanish teachers, art teachers, and a librarian, too! This fun book that is perfect for kindergarten and primary classrooms.


Cindy: Nooooooooo! It’s bad enough that stores unveil their school supplies on July 1, but now I’m writing about back-to-school books at the end of July? #TOOSOON. Here are some books that celebrate the summer fun yet to be had!


The Better Tree Fortby Jessica Scott Kerrin

Kerrin reinforces the important goal of parent/child craft projects, emphasizing that it’s not the product that is important, but the time spent working on and enjoying it together.


How to Code a Sandcastle, by Josh Funk

What if we programmed a robot to build a sandcastle while we get ready to go back to school? Funk’s book teaches basic coding skills and emphasizes the importance of using precise instructions.


The Little Red Fortby Brenda Maier

In this new version of the Little Red Hen, Ruby must build a fort by herself when brothers Oscar, Lee, Rodrigo, and José won’t help. Of course, when the fort is finished, the boys want to play, but Ruby makes them earn their happy ending.


Mermaid School, by Joanne Stewart Wetzel, illustrated by Juliana Swaney

Illustrator Swaney, a former Michigan mermaid, understands the lure of the lake.


The Sandcastle that Lola Built, by Megan Maynor

Maynor’s fresh take on cumulative tale “The House that Jack Built” covers building new friendships, sandcastles, and coping when someone or something accidentally damages your hard work.





About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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