A new school year can be very frightening to youngsters attending for the first time or going to a new grade. These picture books should help allay these anxieties and prepare them for a great experience during the first days of school. The following books are about making friends, believing in yourself, having a good attitude, and learning while at school. All the following books are geared for ages four through eight unless otherwise indicated.

The Smile, by Marie Voigt, showcases the power of a smile. The immediate message a smile gives others tells a lot about you. When meeting others for the first time, by just having a smile on your face shows acceptance, friendship, and happiness. This sweet book demonstrates the many effects that a simple smile can portray. A smile is a beautiful gift. From one face to another. This book gives a great tip to start your school year.

Sylvie, by Jean Reidy and wonderfully illustrated using gouache, brush marker, charcoal and colored pencils and completed digitally by Lucy Ruth Cummins, is a story about how even the smallest act can make a difference. Sylvie is a cute little spider who observes the people living in her apartment building. She’s happy not to be noticed. But then she sees that all of these dwellers are missing something. She is going to have to have courage and be seen to bring them all together. The pictures are bright and whimsical, and the text is rich with alliteration and imagery throughout.

Frog Vs. Toad, by Ben Mantle, is a fun book showcasing how we can celebrate our differences and become friends. Frog and Toad rail on each other about how different each is. But it takes an alligator to bring out the fact that they come from the same family to help them appreciate each of their uniqueness while becoming friends. This hilarious book begs to be read out loud to accentuate the humor! The bright and funny illustrations are done in pastel and digital media.

Something Beautiful, by Lita Judge, has full open-pages of the most adorable animals. This book celebrates friends, making and keeping friends and continuing to be open to including others. It begins with Mouse who then includes Elephant. As the story progresses, more and more animals are invited even though they believe they needed no one else. But their compassion for those not included compels them to open their arms and minds The illustrations are gorgeous and are made with watercolor and then digitally edited.

CATastrophe!, by Ann Marie Stephens and the brightly illustrated digitally by Jean Harney, is a hilarious lesson on teaching patterns. A crew of cats, each showing a fun and funny personality as well as type of cat, are heading out on water to go fishing. As they row out, their captain calls out a core instruction as they encounter difficulty after difficulty. He points out simple solutions to remedy each problem by using patterns. This fun read is sure to not only teach but laugh out loud at the comedy of errors as the cats learn to row and fish using patterns. Be sure to check out more information about patterns found at the back of the book.

The Upside Down Detective Agency, by Elli Hattie and intricately illustrated rich in color by Brendan Kearney, is an interactive story that will help youngsters problem solve by spotting clues and locating items described in the text. Each open-page is full of active sights whereby the reader is given directives to locate specific items to help solve the mystery posed at the beginning of the book. We are being led by two very smart sleuths. This book is great fun and will be examined over again and again.

Animal Antics A to Z, by Anita Lobel, is a brilliantly illustrated alphabet book rich in assimilation of animals, antics and action adjectives. Each page showcases a descriptive animal with the letter made with acrobats. For the letter G you see two giraffes wearing necklaces and the description reads: Glamorous Giraffes. For the letter Z you see two zebras wearing hats and bows on their tails. The description reads: Zany Zebras. The bright pictures were painted with watercolor and gouache.

A Penny’s Worth, by Kimberly Wilson and illustrated using acrylic, colored pencil, and pastel, and digitally by Mark Hoffmann, is a perfect read aloud with all of the ingenious puns and play on words throughout the book. The story is about Penny becoming forgotten even though she was brand new. She feels that it is non-cents as bigger change gets much more attention. This book is a simple yet powerful introduction to money and small amounts of change. The illustrations of Penny and her cohorts are delightful. Be sure to check out more information about small change in the back of the book.