The beginning of school is exciting but also a bit scary for many, especially youngsters– going to school for the first time. Here are some new and helpful books to qualm the fears and help make the first day fun. All are picture books and good for ages five through seven unless otherwise indicated.

The Wild Guide to Starting School, by Laura & Philip Bunting, is one of the best books on how to help youngsters entering school for the first time. Each open page displays the class subject and showcases examples of behavior in the class. The humorous examples all depict wild animals in place of human kids and will surely help kids feel a bit less anxious and perhaps open up a bit more about their feelings. Some of categories include First-Day Feelings and The Way to School. The directions for walking to school shows four examples: The first way shows a bird crossing the street safely. The rest are unsafe: a small bird in the mouth of a crocodile, a crocodile riding a motorcycle with the bird still in the mouth and that same motorcycle riding crocodile with the bird in his mouth riding up an erupting volcano. (Some examples are just silly.) The animal depictions are fun, colorful, and full of humor.

On the Night Before Kindergarten, by Rosemary Wells, has young Milo worried about his first day in kindergarten. He dreams of some embarrassing situations in the classroom the night before his first day. However, his parents soothe his feelings and surprisingly Milo ends up helping some of his classmates. The color is vibrant and rendered with watercolor and ink.

Bitsy Bat, School Star, by Kaz Windness, is wonderfully told about a student who is different. Bitsy Bat feels different and acts differently. But she comes up with a plan to have her classmates make a star stating what makes each classmate unique. These stars increase each student’s appreciation of all. There is a note at the back of the book about autism. The beautiful illustrations were rendered using graphite on paper and painted digitally.

Show and Tell, by Rob Biddulph, is a very clever, fun and hilarious rhyming tale about kids bringing their items to show to their class. It begins with Adam sharing a small sunflower seed. From there, each student’s item becomes much more amazing and bigger. Following Adam is Betty’s blue spaghettis, Charlie’s pirate hat with a pirate ship on top and Darcy’s two golden violins. But the items get even larger and ending with a big (or perhaps small) surprise. The illustrations are a perfect combination with the storyline and rich with color. This will become a favorite family read aloud where members could come up with their own ideas for show and tell items.

My School Unicorn, by Willow Evans and brightly illustrated by Tom Knight, has young Evie nervous about starting school. But this clever story has a bit of a twist. When her dad takes her to get her new school uniform, the owner tells Evie that she also has a new school unicorn to help her throughout her new experiences. A very small colorful unicorn suddenly appears, and Evie feels better already. As she becomes braver, her need for this unicorn shifts and she brings her tiny unicorn back to the store to assist another shy child.

How to Get Your Octopus to School, by Becky Scharnhorst and brightly illustrated using scanned painted textures and custom brushes by Jaclyn Sinquett, is a clever story for kiddies and will surely get giggles along the way. Utilizing the key components to beginning school jitters, Scharnhorst uses octopi elements to transfer human characteristics. But when this adorable octopus becomes nervous, watch out. You could get inked!

May’s Brave Day, by Lucy Morris, is a beautifully told tale of dealing with the unknown first day of school. May feels comfort in being outside with nature. The author’s descriptive language is eloquent and creates a sense of sight and smell of the outdoors. A beautiful yellow butterfly balanced lightly on her hand. It sat, wings very still and antennae tickling her skin. Her mama smartly compares the newness she is about to experience with birds that have to learn to fly, ducklings that need to learn to swim and more little critters overcoming obstacles. The delicate pictures were wonderfully created with watercolor, pencil crayons, ink, and collage with digital manipulation.

And Then Comes School, by Tom Brenner and brightly illustrated using mixed media by Jen Hill, is a nice celebration of the upcoming school season. With the color of green on the leaves fading and cooler days ahead, the anticipation of school is in the air. The fruits and vegetables are ripe, and the needed school supply list arrives. It becomes evident that school is getting closer to starting up once again. All of the activities and changes of the season that need to take place prior to school beginning becomes evident in this glorious book. The story ends with school, classroom and learning that is about to take place.

Sora’s Seashells, by Helena Ku Rhee and gorgeously painted in watercolor and finished digitally by Stella Lim, begins with her loving South Korean grandmother walking on the beach with young Sora and selecting beautiful shells. Some of the other students in her class bully her and make fun of her unusual name. She decides to give each student, including the students who are mean to her, beautiful shells. She explains what her name means in Korean: a gift just like a perfect shell. By facing this adversity with kindness, it helps resolve her problem. Be sure to check out the gorgeous end-pages.