Open Sesame: 5 Picture Books For Kindergarteners

School is the New Frontier: 5 Picture Books For First-Timers

The first day of school is a huge leap for many young children. The world of school is different than the world of home. Excitement, anxiety, curiosity, fear, and uncertainty are feelings shared by all petite pioneers as they head into the big, new territory of school. Sometimes a good story is all that’s needed to calm a fear, tickle a nerve, boost confidence, and generate joy.

Here are five new picture books for young adventurers getting ready to explore school for the first time. You’ll find an astronaut, a cat, a panda, monsters, and even a Norse goddess, venturing into the unknown, finding fun, friends, and their own brand of special…

Planet Kindergarten, written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore, follows a young astronaut as he explores a new frontier: school. From liftoff to splashdown, this brave adventurer navigates a classroom full of “aliens,” challenging projects, and reverse gravity with humor and heart. The digital illustrations explode on the page in bright, bold colors and dynamic, geometric shapes. Newly-launched astronauts will appreciate this planetary discovery.

  • Planet Kindergarten written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore. Published by Chronicle Books, 2014. ISBN: 978-1452118932


Edda, A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School, written and illustrated by Adam Auerbach, offers a fresh take on first day jitters. Edda, a small but fierce Norse goddess wants a friend her own age. When papa sends her to Earth, Edda discovers going to a typical neighborhood school is a lot different from looking for monsters in the magical land of Asgard. Though she has a hard time finding her place at first, bravery and determination lead to new self-worth and new friends. Line style drawings are spare but emotive, and fit perfectly with the witty and reassuring story.


Chu’s First Day of School, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Adam Rex, revisits the little panda with a big talent first introduced in Chu’s Day. As the first day of school approaches, Chu worries if the other students will be nice and if he’ll be liked. It’s not long before Chu is sitting amongst his classmates at sharing time and unexpectedly reveals the special thing he can do. Younguns will delight in the feel-good ending and the rich, vibrant illustrations, which are full of detail and personality.  Though Chu shares the important thing he can do, the best thing he does, is be himself.

  • Chu’s First Day of School written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Adam Rex. Published by Harper Collins, 2014. ISBN: 978-0062223975


Little Lola, written by Julie Saab and illustrated by David Gothard, is about a cat who “loves everything” and that includes school. Waking up early, ready for adventure, she finds it piece by piece on the way to a school bus. Welcomed by her human teacher and classmates, she spends the day writing, doing math, eating snacks, making friends, and participating in group activities. Though she is a bit mischievous, her curiosity and excitement permeate the experience. There is no anxiety here, just pure joy. Soft watercolor illustrations complement the simple storyline.

  • Little Lola written by Julie Saab and illustrated by David Gothard. Published by Greenwillow Books, 2014 ISBN: 978-0062274571


5 Picture Books For First-TimersMonsters Love School, written and illustrated by Mike Austin, is a follow-up to last year’s, Monsters Love Colors. These colorful, friendly monsters are ready for their biggest adventure yet – going to monster school. After gathering supplies on their checklist, this group of monsters heads to school for all the basics. Kid-friendly illustrations were digitally created with pencil, crayon, ink, and brushes, and add to the approachable and energetic nature of these silly school-goers. Little monsters everywhere will enjoy this first day of school adventure.

  • Monsters Love School written and illustrated by Mike Austin. Published by Harper Collins, 2014. ISBN: 978-0062286185


Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

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