Although it has been many years, I still vividly remember the night before the beginning of each new school year. The sleepless night was full of worry, apprehension, and an almost overwhelming sense of anxiety. Over and over I asked myself questions such as: “Will my Mom remember to wake me in the morning?”; “What should I wear?”; “Do I have everything I need?”; “What if my teacher doesn’t like me?”; “What if no one wants to sit by me on the bus?”; “What do I do if I don’t know where to go?”. The constant circle of questions left me exhausted by the time morning arrived. In talking with others and my years of working with children and young adults, I have come to realize that anticipation and anxiety about starting school or beginning a new school year is quite universal.
As a new school year approaches and I search for an excuse to get “new” school supplies (…and clothes), I also think about the anticipation and anxiety that I experienced and ponder strategies that might have eased my concerns.
One of the most readily available and easily accessible tools we have to help children and young adults process, understand, and work through their concerns is the use of books. Books provide children and young adults with an opportunity to meet characters they can relate to and that share their experiences and emotions. Often as these characters and their stories evolve, there is an opportunity to discuss the characters’ emotions, ideas to solve the problem or concern, and insights into applying what was learned by the character to our own lives. Books can be used to stimulate conversation, for brainstorming, and for development of possible coping strategies to ease an individual’s apprehension in order to promote a sense of assurance and confidence.continued on next page
The following are just some of the books that might be helpful in easing anticipation and anxiety about starting school or beginning a new school year. Some of the books are directly related to school while others deal with worry and anxiety.
**Always preview a book before sharing it with a child!
For other book ideas check with your public or school librarian, child’s teacher or visit a website about children’s books.
Back to School, Mallory How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?
by Laurie Friedman by Jane Yolen, Mark Teague
Back to School with Betsy Pinky Dinky Doo: Back to School is Cool!
by Carolyn Haywood by Jim Jinkins
Arthur’s Back to School Day Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School
by Lillian Hoban by Herman Parish
My First Day at Nursery School Berenstain Bears Go Back to School
by Becky Edwards by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Miss Nelson is Back Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
by Harry G. Allard & James Marshall by Kevin Henkes
Ramona’s World Recess Queen
by Beverly Cleary by Alexis O’Neill
Back to School for Rotten Ralph Arthur’s Back-to-School Surprise
by Jack Gantos by Marc Brown
Countdown to Kindergarten Wemberly Worried
by Alison McGhee by Kevin Henkes
What to Do When You’re Scared 100th Day Worries
or Worried: A Guide for Kids by Margery Culver
by James J. Crist
What to Do When You Worry Too Is a Worry Worrying You?
Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming by Ferida Wolff & Harriet May Savitz
by Dawn Huebner
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid, Bear Feels Scared
Smelly Bus by Karma Wilson
by Barbara Park
Clarice Bean, Don’t Look Now Stuart Goes to School
by Lauren Child by Sara Pennypacker
Sahara Special Don’t Go!
by Esme Raji Codell by Jane Breskin Zalben
Off to School, Baby Duck Worried
by Amy Hest by Sarah Medina
Mostly Monty I Promise I’ll Find You
by Johanna Hurwitz by Heather P. Ward
Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth Will You Come Back for Me?
by Alison McGhee by Ann Tompert
The Worry Tree Harriet’s Recital
by Marianne Musgrove by Nancy Carlson
by Anthony Browne
Resources for titles of children’s books: