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Books about starting school or nursery from the Book Trust

Starting school or nursery can be an exciting, but also anxious time for both parents and children. Sharing books together can start chats about emotions and feelings about ‘big school’ and help to make sure your child knows that they will be safe and happy in their new setting.

Here are a few recommended by Book Trust


picture of the picture book Let's go to nursery by Caryl Hart and Lauren Tobia

Author: Caryl Hart and Lauren Tobia Publisher: Walker Books

Bee and Billy are going to nursery! After both mummies hug them goodbye, Bee runs off and starts playing, but Billy feels shy. Fortunately, Bee is playing postman and engages Billy in the game. Later, it’s Billy’s turn to help Bee out when she wants a toy that another little one is playing with. And when Billy spills his milk and gets upset, Bee offers to share hers. By the end of the day both Billy and Bee are yawny and sleepy – and they can’t wait to come back to nursery next time.

This sweet book about the potentially anxiety-making environment of nursery focuses the experience on the friendship between little ones that play there together. Both children help each other when conflict or accidents happen, making this a reassuring read, as well as one with a message about sharing and thoughtfulness.

The rhyming text is phrased with preschoolers in mind, full of playful wording that mimics a young but creative vocabulary – Billy is munchy-crumbly-crunchy rather than hungry, and Bee’s tower is wibbly-wobbly tall. A great book for sharing and understanding everyday experiences.


Picture of the book Lulu's first day by Anna McQuinn & Rosalind Beardshaw

Author: Anna McQuinn Illustrator: Rosalind Beardshaw Publisher: Alanna Max

Lulu is very excited to be starting preschool – she’s already visited, so she knows what to expect, and she’s also picked out her outfit. When she arrives at the start of the big day itself, Mum stays for a cup of tea while Lulu gets acclimatised. Lulu chooses what she wants to do. Does she want to play with the sand? Paint a picture? In the end, Lulu chooses to read a book with Julie in the special reading tent. It’s such a fun day, even when Mum leaves her in Miss Suzan’s kind and capable care. And at the end of the day, it’s time for a snack when Lulu gets home… And maybe a little nap under her favourite blanket.


Picture of the boo What does the Crocodile Say by Eva Montanari

Author: Eva Montanari Publisher: Book Island

Little Crocodile is woken up by the alarm – dringg dringg! He has a wash – sssplash! Then it’s time for a munchy breakfast and a zzzup getting dressed. Yet when mummy and Little Crocodile go hup-hup up the stairs to nursery, Little Crocodile starts to cling onto mummy. Fortunately, at nursery, the drum goes pom-pa-pom, the triangle goes tingg and the food goes om om om.

First days at nursery – or even a while after the first day, when little ones are still getting used to parents or carers not being around – can be really hard for little ones and grown-ups. What Does The Crocodile Say? manages to express all the anxieties associated with separation and provide a happy reassurance that nursery is actually quite fun – through the medium of toddler noises, and the expression in Montanari’s beautiful, soft pencil drawing.


Picture of the book Hello Friend by Rebecca Cobb

Author: Rebecca Cobb Publisher: Macmillan

A little girl befriends a little boy in her class – they run around in the playground, play with stuffed bunnies, share their lunches: she even helps him put his coat on at the end of the day. But does the little boy like her as much as she likes him? Perhaps he’s a little shy. Yet, in the end, the little girl’s continued attention pays off, and it’s time to make another new brilliant new friend. Rebecca Cobb uses minimal text with great clarity and precision in this warm-hearted picture book about making friends. It’s a perfect read for little ones starting school or nursery who might be a bit nervous, reassuring them that there will be lots of other children who want to make friends.


Picture of the book Mt First Day by Leilani Sparrow & Dan Taylor 

Author: Leilani Sparrow Illustrator: Dan Taylor Publisher: Boxer Books

The first day at school or nursery can be a little scary, but there is so much to do that little bears and bunnies won’t be able to feel sad for long! There are friends to make, snacks to share, play to be played and painting to be done amongst a host of other exciting things. And when the end of the day comes, after a story, it’s time to put coats on again and go home: tomorrow will be so much fun! This very simple text embraces the fun of a first day at school, reassuring little ones that there’s plenty of happy times to be had.


Picture of the book Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School by Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds 

Author: Ian Whybrow  Illustrator: Adrian Reynolds Publisher: Penguin

It’s Harry’s first day at school. He and his dinosaurs are very excited and perhaps a little bit nervous. But when Harry’s dinosaur friends don’t join him in the classroom, Harry’s not so sure he’s going to like school, but the dinosaurs come to the rescue and Harry and his new friend learn just how much fun school can really be! This is an ideal book to prevent first-day-at-school nerves.

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