7 Books That Calm Kindergarten Jitters

Help Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten

Mom reads a book to her child.
Reading with your child can help prepare them socially, too. Robert Westbrook via Getty Images

Entering kindergarten is a major life transition for your child.  It is the beginning of their k-12 academic career.  It's also a huge change in their daily routine.  Children will feel a variety of emotions as the beginning of school draws near. 

This list of seven different children's books about starting kindergarten can help you select the books that will be the best fit for your child.  Start by finding the stories that sound most like how your child feels about kindergarten.  The endings are given in the brief summaries to help you select the right titles.  

Each story also discusses what a day of school is like, so feel free to include more stories than just the ones that closely match your child's experience.   The more examples of what your child has about what kindergarten will be like, the better prepared they will feel.

Maple and Willow Apart by Lori Nichols

Maple and Willow find ways to stay connected when they are apart for the day.
Two sisters separated when the eldest begins kindergarten. Penguin Random House

Maple and Willow are two young sisters who spend their days playing and exploring the outdoors together.  Then Maple begins school while Willow stays home.  At first, each girl talks about what happened during their days apart.  Spending their days apart seems to be pulling the girls apart.  The girls find a way to remain close when Willow gives Maple a special acorn to take to school with her.  The acorn is a symbol of their friendship that helps the siblings to feel close to one another.  

The focus on relationships will make this book especially useful for kindergartners that will be away from a sibling or close friend that they may miss when they begin school.

Monkey Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown

a monkey feels nervous anxious about starting kidnergarten.
Monkey's family helps him to feel ready for kindergarten. Penguin Random House

Monkey could be any young boy about to start kindergarten.  As kindergarten approaches, Monkey becomes worried about everything that could possibly go wrong at school.  His unfounded fears include his future teacher not liking him, getting lost at school, not making new friends, and the school not having red crayons.   Monkey's family helps him get beyond the anxiety by playing school with him and getting him books about kindergarten from the library, to help Monkey learn what to really expect at school.

Monkey questions his readiness when he wakes up on the first day of school.  When he arrives at school he is welcomed by a smiling teacher and classmates.  Monkey makes several new friends at the school playground.

This book addresses common fears related to attending a new school.  Even children who have attended preschool may worry about making new friends or being able to find their way around the new building.  

Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis

A young boy feigns confidence about starting kindergarten.
A big sister and a stuffed animal give confidence whens tarting kindergarten. Houghton Mifflin harcourt

Dexter Dugan claims to have no worries at all about starting kindergarten.  His stuffed dog Rufus is the one worried, according to Dexter.  Dexter's older sister Jessie talks to Dexter about what he can expect at school and even helps Dexter get onto the bus on the first day of school. 

Dexter brings Rufus with him on the first day of school.  Rufus is misplaced for a short period of time, but Dexter finds Rufus again.  By the end of the first day of kindergarten, Dexter has had such a good time at school he decides he doesn't need to bring Rufus with him anymore.

This book covers many of the same common anxieties of being in a new school, like Monkey Not Ready for Kindergarten.  This book may have special appeal to a child who still has a favorite stuffed toy they take everywhere they go or an older sibling who will be going to the same school.

Mom, It's My First Day of Kidnergarten! by Hyewon Yum

Parent and child alike experience changes when children begin school.
Loving illustrations show how Mom feels when her son begins kidnergarten. MacMillan Publishers

In this book the main character, a young boy, is excited about starting kindergarten.  Instead, his mother seems to be the one feeling nervous about her child starting school.  Mom's emotions are handled in a sensitive, age-appropriate way by showing her facial expression, color, and size.  The son confidently goes off to school for the day with mom feeling proud of her son for going to "big kid's school."  

This book is nice to share with kindergarteners because it shows that some children are excited and feel confident about going to kindergarten.  Not every child is afraid of starting school.  Even if your child is nervous, adding this book to the list of books you read with your child can help your child see that not everyone is afraid.  

It also gives you the chance to let your child know that even though you may miss them when they are at school, you will be alright and you will be with them again when they come home.

Countdown to Kindergarten by Allison Mcghee

A young girl tries to prepare herself for kindergarten.
What do you need to know before beginning kidnergarten?. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This book also addresses a set of worries about kindergarten.  The young girl in "Countdown to Kindergarten" is afraid that she will be the only person in her class who does not know how to tie her shoes, and that no one will help her with shoe tying.  The young girl tells the reader of many things that she can do herself, yet she worries throughout the story that not knowing how to tie shoes will lead to disaster.  The story ends happily when the young girl finds out that almost no one at school knows how to tie their own shoes, and that they can get help when needed from the teacher.

Since many children between the ages of four to six often still need help with some self-care tasks, such as tying shoes, opening some containers, and other daily self-care tasks. Children with motor skill delays or disabilities will need even more help.  Reading this book with your child can help reassure them that kindergarten will be a place appropriate for their development.

Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten by Toni Buzzeo

Adventure Annie starts kindergarten.
A young girl wants to be the hero of her kindergarten class. Penguin Random House books

Annie is a young girl who is excited about her first day of kindergarten.  Wearing her superhero cape everywhere she goes, Annie clearly wants to be a hero to everyone.  Her excitement to be the best leads her to start her day by making a few mistakes.  Fortunately, Annie ends the day by helping some fellow new kindergarteners who got lost in their new school.  Annie earns a gold star, the recognition she hoped for all day.

This book will appeal to new kindergarteners who love to be rewarded and recognized. It also shows how a day that begins roughly can still turn into a good day.  

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick

A buffalo gets ready for kindergarten
If your buffalo is ready, then you are, too!. Harper Collins Children's Books

The first day of school jitters are shown through the simple cartoon drawings of a young girl who takes a buffalo to kindergarten with her.  She wonders allowed if the buffalo is ready. She cites a myriad of potential problems for the buffalo, such as his horns and need to graze all day.  Still, the buffalo has the same emotions that a nervous kindergartner may have.  In the end, the buffalo learns to enjoy kindergarten.

This short read aloud is a nice, funny addition to the many books available for parents to read to their beginning kindergarteners.  With all of the serious getting ready, the silliness of a buffalo going to school adds a great touch of levity.

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