Back-to-School Picture Books

Our Family's Favorite Back-to-School Picture Books

I know many of your children have already started back to school, but our family’s “official” start date is tomorrow.

Here are a few back-to-school themed picture books that our family enjoys reading — not only in August, but all year long. If you’ve missed any of these titles, look for them next time you’re at your local public library. Or click through the referral links provided for information on ordering them through Amazon.

Are your kids too old for picture books? (“As if that’s even possible” — quip my own picture-book-collecting college kids.) Then try reading one of our favorite school-themed chapter books aloud to them before they head back to the classroom.

Young or old, bookworms or reluctant readers, we hope you and your child(ren) will have an awesome school year and will learn many new and amazing things during the course of it!

Our family’s favorite back-to-school picture books

The Day the Teacher Went Bananas

The Day the Teacher Went Bananas
by James Howe

The children in this book seem unfazed when a gorilla shows up one morning to teach their class. They go along happily with his unconventional lessons in finger painting, toe counting, and tree climbing. But all too soon, the principal rushes in to explain there’s been a terrible mistake! The real teacher had accidentally been sent to the zoo, which is where their hairy substitute actually belongs.

My little ones bust out laughing every time I read this one. Then beg me to take them to the zoo, so they can admire the gorillas, too. And imagine what it would be like to have one as a teacher.

Green Wilma

Green Wilma
by Tedd Arnold

The morning Wilma woke up green, her mom thought she needed to stay home from school. But Wilma hopped out a window and onto the bus before anyone could stop her. There’s a fly in her classroom, though, which makes it hard for Wilma to focus on her lessons.

My kids love Tedd Arnold’s witty text and hilarious illustrations. We own several of his other books, but Green Wilma will always be my favorite.

My Great Aunt Arizona

My Great-Aunt Arizona
by Gloria Houston

Arizona is a little girl with lots of heart and big dreams. Both her heart and her dreams grow as she does, and when she later becomes a school teacher, she pours all those dreams and aspirations into the hearts of her students.

The story is sweet, and reminds me just a little of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Llama Llama Misses Mama

Llama Llama Misses Mama
by Anna Dewdney

Llama has a little separation anxiety about starting preschool, but it dissipates over the course of the day.

He didn’t want to stay when Mama dropped him off in the morning, but by the time she returns to pick him up, he’s had a change of heart.

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?

How Do Dinosaurs Go To School?
by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

My little boys love dinosaurs, so Yolen’s and Teague’s books are favorites at our house. How Do Dinosaurs Go to School provides a good review of classroom etiquette using whimsical rhymes and detailed illustrations.

Even though my kids don’t spend their days sitting in traditional school desks, they love imagining what life might look like with a stegosaurus as a study partner.

Morris the Moose Goes to School

Morris Goes to School
by B. Wiseman

Our family has been following Morris to school for many, many years now. In fact, I’m pretty sure I read about that curious moose back when I was in grade school myself.

After all, Morris has been entertaining school children (and helping them learn to read) since 1959.

My children laugh about the funny things the studious moose says and does. But as a homeschool mother, I love Morris’s unbridled enthusiasm for learning.

Even if a few subjects do give him a little trouble.

Charlie Goes to School

Charlie Goes to School
by Ree Drummond

Here’s one that will be of special interest to homeschoolers: The Pioneer Woman details the kind of lifestyle learning that takes place on a ranch, as her lazy, loveable basset hound, Charlie, sees all the children absorbed in their lessons and decides to teach a few classes himself.

This one is admittedly not the best literature, but homeschool-specific picture books are hard to come by, so this one earned a place on our shelves solely because of that (and the fact that we love Ree’s recipes and design style).

…And that concludes my list of back-to-school picture books. Can you think of any great titles I’ve missed? Share them in the comments below!

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  1. My girls love Charlie the Ranch Dog books, especially when Daddy reads to them! (Daddy does a really good Charlie voice!) 🙂

  2. We have lots of favourite books, Jez Alborough being one of our favourite authors, but I can’t just think of any books about school! Thanks for your favourites list. They have become gift ideas.

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