15 kids' books perfect for calming first day of school jitters

Reading books about the first day of school can help easy any anxiety or stress your little one may be feeling about this new adventure.

first-day-of-school-books
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The first day of school is monumental in so many ways―for kids AND their parents. Nervous excitement and jitters are totally normal when you start something new for the first time. And going to school for the first time (or back to school after a year of remote schooling) checks all of these boxes―new people, new classroom, new friends. New is both exciting AND potentially anxiety-inducing for children.

Reading books about the first day of school can be helpful to prepare children for what is to come. While we all know the benefits of reading are numerous, books about school are a great way to calm those first day of school jitters. New adventures and experiences await. You've got this, kiddo!

Here are 15 of our favorite books about the first day of school for preschoolers through first grade.


Best first day of schools books for preschoolers:

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! by Mo Willems

the-pigeon-has-to-go-to-school

Mo Willems is one of my favorite children's book authors, and while his Elephant & Piggie series will always be my personal favorite, Pigeon is a close second! In this book just perfect for little ones starting preschool, Pigeon wonders why he has to go to school. After all, he already knows everything! And what happens if he doesn't like school? What if the teacher doesn't like him? What if he learns TOO MUCH!?! So. many. questions. (just like every toddler I know)

Age range: 3-6

$7.78

Lola Goes to School by Anna McQuinn 

lola-goes-to-school

In this sweet book, Lola and her family prepare for the first day of school the night before, then get up early, take pictures, and head to class. Perhaps you will follow a similar routine with your preschooler? Lola puts her things in her cubby, chooses her activities, reads, plays, and has a snack. Before she knows it, it's time to sing the good-bye song and rush into Mommy's arms for a warm reunion. I love that this book gives kids a look at what their first day of school will look like so they know what to expect ahead of time!

Age range: 2-5

$13.72

Pete the Kitty's First Day of Preschool by Kimberly and James Dean 

Pete-the-kitty-first-day-of-preschool

Pete the Kitty fans will love when Pete heads to his first day of preschool! In this story, Pete meets his teacher, sings a few fun songs, and even gets to paint. Who knew preschool could be so much fun? Little ones will enjoy exploring what the first day of school is like with Pete the Kitty.

Age range: 2-4

$7.99

Curious George's First Day of School by Margret and H.A. Rey

curious-george-first-day-of-school

Curious George is a favorite children's book character, even though he's always finding a way to get in to trouble. In this story, Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple's class to be a special helper. Uh oh... we know something silly is about to happen! George "helps" with painting, so you can imagine what kind of disaster occurs. Well, at least he learns what fun you can have when you go to preschool! This book includes bonus activities, like an "Ants on a Log" recipe, a word search, and a "Color Your World" craft idea.

Age range: 2-5

$4.99

Daniel Goes to School by Becky Friedman

Daniel-goes-to-school

Everyone's favorite tiger is excited to go to school! But, he's worried when his dad can't stay with him. Perhaps your little one already knows this song, "grown-ups come back", which the story is based on? Daniel has lots of fun with his teacher and classmates in this sweet 8x8 storybook that will ring true for children just starting school. Perfect for the little one worried about leaving parents for the first time.

Age range: 2-4

$3.78

Best first day of school books for kindergartners:

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

the-night-before-kindergarten

A favorite of my kids', this story is takeoff of the classic Christmas poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

'Twas the night before kindergarten,
and as they prepared,
kids were excited,
and a little bit scared.

Join the kids in this sweet story as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all--saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. Luckily they'll soon find out how much fun kindergarten is!

Age range: 5-6

$4.99

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

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In this New York Times bestseller, National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and award-winning illustrator Rafael Lopez tell the story of how a child feels when they are starting something new. While not school-specific, going to school for the first time certainly applies. In this story, we are reminded that we all feel like outsider sometimes, but how brave it is to go forth anyway, even when we're scared. When we reach out to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. Quite frankly, this is a great book for adults, too!

Age range: 5-8

$14.56

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex

schools-first-day-of-school

Did you ever think that maybe your school gets nervous for the first day of school, too? It's true! In this story, it's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary. Eeryone's just a little bit anxious, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him? Although the school has a rough start, as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he's not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Age range: 5-6

$15.01

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

wemberly-worried

Another favorite in my household, Wemberly is a little mouse who is always, you guessed it, worried. And she's especially worried about going to school for the first time. Her parents say, "Worry, worry, worry. Too much worry." But when it's time to go back to school and she meets a fellow worrywart in her class, Wemberly realizes that school is too much fun to waste time worrying!

Age range: 3-6

$7.74

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice Ransom

Amanda-panda-quits-kindergarten

Amanda Panda (I love this rhyme, for starters!) has BIG ideas for her first day of school. But when things don't go according to plan, and when a "pesky girl in a pink bow decides to be her best friend", she decides to quit kindergarten and join her brother in second grade. How do you think that will turn out? Amanda Panda perfectly captures the spirit, motivations, and humor of a headstrong girl headed to kindergarten—and will be sure to soothe back-to-school jitters.

Age range: 3-7

$10.77

Best first day of school books for first graders:

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

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I love this sweet story about a girl who is the the new kid in school, who worries that no one will be able to pronounce her name. Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. According to the Amazon description, "So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey."

What a wonderful story of acceptance and openness from children, an important lesson for school and every day life.

Age range: 5-9

$7.99

On the First Day of First Grade by Tish Rabe

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In this adaptation of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", kids learn about how fun it is to be in the first grade! This book shares all the excitement of "big kid" school, and all the "firsts" there are to look forward to. Saying good-bye to mom and dad can be hard, but when the school bus pulls up, it's time for some first grade fun!

Age range: 4-8

$9.99

Mae's First Day of School by Kate Berube

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Uh oh. As Mae's first day of school approaches she decides she IS. NOT. GOING. After all, school is scary! What if the other kids don't like her? Or what if she's the only one who doesn't know how to write? Or what if she misses her mom? Mae's anxiety only builds as she walks to school. What will she do? But, then she meets Rosie and Ms. Pearl. Making friends helps Mae conquer her fears.

Age range: 3-7

$16.99

First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush

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For all those little ones with nervous jitters about the first grade, this book is for you! In this story, a young boy is about to enter first grade and doesn't know quite what to expect. Will his friends be there? Will he have to know how to read and spell? What if he can't understand anything his teacher says? Looks like a case of first grade jitters!

Age range: 5-6

$10.39

Be Big! Beatrice's First Day of First Grade by Katie Kizer

be-big-beatrices-first-day-of-first-grade

In this tale, Beatrice is a little girl in a blue tutu who is afraid of being her unique self when she starts first grade. With gorgeous illustrations, this story will encourage little ones to face their fears and "be brave, be bold, and be big." Beatrice begins her first day of first grade alongside Benjamin the butterfly, who encourages Beatrice to be big and reminds her that she is not alone. Great for children who are overcoming their fears when it comes to a new adventure like heading to first grade.

Age range: 5-7

$9.95

The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

Conz Preti

Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


Belly oil

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

$58

Belly mask

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

$42

Nipple + lip ointment 

HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

$28

Belly tattoos

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

$18

This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

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14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Sensory play set

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Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

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Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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15 vegetarian school lunch ideas kids will gobble up

Need some plant-free lunch ideas to take to school? We got you, mama.

Tom Werner / Getty

Have your kids stopped eating meat? Is your family just trying to cut back? One trend I'm intrigued by is eating vegetarian on the weekdays, then going omnivore Saturday through Sunday. For health, happiness and environmental reasons, more and more families are simply opting out of anything that's not grown from the ground—and that includes two of my daughters.

With school starting back up, you may be needing some more school lunch ideas for kids that don't include meat to keep those cute lunch boxes—and little bellies—full!

Here are our favorite ways to pack lunch boxes that are hearty, satisfying, full of protein yet vegetarian all the way through.

Simplified Focaccia Bread

When we lived in Italy, we learned that focaccia bread was originally made for fishermen who needed a fast lunch that would stick with them until dinner. Olive oil not only packs a flavorful punch but adds enough (good) fats to keep fishermen full. Turns out, it works for kids at school too and this easy recipe is the best way to make it!

Cheddar Cheese and Apple Muffins

Think of these savory baked goods as a twist on a biscuit--one that's packed with tart apples and creamy, salty cheddar cheese.

Whole-Wheat Mini Tomato Galettes

Start with pie crust (use our easy recipe or take a shortcut with something from the store) then layer on the freshly sliced tomatoes (or potatoes!), sprinkle with cheese and bake. These make-ahead lunches will be the hit of your bento boxes (Tip: measure the size of your container and adjust your galettes before baking!)

Spicy Black Bean Enchilada Cups

Of all the ways to eat enchiladas, I bet you've never thought of this one. Fold tortillas into muffin pans and fill with all the gorgeous flavors of enchiladas. If your kids aren't into spicy, simply skip the adobe sauce and use mild enchilada sauce instead. (P.S. If you like the idea of using your muffin pan for another lunch special, try lasagna cups too.)

Veggie Nuggets

Served at room temp, this vegetarian spin on every kid's favorite food is a tasty treat. Don't forget to pack dipping sauce! (Bonus: Make a big batch and store in the freezer to simply pull out when you're ready to pack lunches.)

Fruit & Nut Butter Wraps

Begin with a tortilla or wrap, then slather on a thick layer of your chosen nut butter and top with freshly sliced fruit: strawberries, peaches, blueberries… Almost any combination works deliciously.

Puff Pastry Pizza

Talk about a happy meal. This one combines pizza with the buttery, flaky texture of puff pastry. Add any toppings your kids love, from plain cheese to tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and more.

Crispy Tofu Nuggets

If you've got an air fryer and a vegetarian kid, these tofu nuggets are your new best dish. Their perfectly crisp texture will remind you of a popular dish served in packs of six at a restaurant that rhymes with Schmic-donalds.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

"But how do you get enough protein?" For every parent of a vegetarian has heard this about a zillion times too many, here's your one-word reply: quinoa! This golden grain is packed with the stuff, plus fiber to keep kids full. Fill a colorful pepper with quinoa, plus a handful of other tasty flavors, and you've got a protein-rich lunch to send to school on repeat.

Tiny Tomato Pies

My daughter asks me to make these pies for her birthday every year. And when her friends come over for dinner. And when it's her turn to choose a meal. There's something about a flaky crust topped with cheese and fresh tomato slices all grilled together that even elementary school kids can't resist. (Psst: Since it starts with store-bought biscuit dough, these tiny pies come together in a snap.)

Quiche Cups

One of the best things about quiche is how versatile it is: add cheese, grilled veggies, roasted broccoli, fresh herbs...or none of the above. Since you use a muffin pan to make a dozen at a time, you can even change up the combinations to suit your kids' tastes.

Simple Sushi Rolls

Don't let the name fool you. Making sushi is not only easier than you think, but a fun way for kids to try their hand in the kitchen with you.

Toasted Bagel Bites with Hummus

Slice up a store-bought bagel and give it a minute under the broiler and you'll have the crispy bites kids devour at lunch. My kids like a little hummus, marinara sauce or nut butter and jelly for dipping.

Very Pickle-y Egg Salad

The secret to this egg salad is simple: tons of dill pickles. The salty, sweet and crunchy texture makes the perfect bite with all those rich and creamy boiled eggs. (Tip: Save time with dill pickle relish.)

Taco Pop Tarts

What started as a cheeky way to use up taco filling has turned into one of my kids' most-requested lunches. Just fill pie crust with your favorite taco filling (using beans or a veggie substitute for ground beef) and bake. Again, word to the wise, do measure your lunch box compartment ahead of time so you don't make mammoth pop tarts like someone I know. Me, it's me. Of course it's me.

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