Picture Books for Little Kids who Don't Want to Go to School

Starting school can be wildly exciting for young children. At the same time, the idea can fill a child with anxiety.

Kids may wonder what it will be like to be away from home without mom, dad, or siblings, especially if they have never experienced daycare, preschool, or unfamiliar care providers. Even kiddos used to going to pre-k or daycare might worry about making new friends, navigating different surroundings and learning big kid stuff.

Talking to your child about what to expect and providing reassurance can go a long way toward easing nervousness about school, and helping kids who really don't want to go. These picture books deal with the uncertainties and anxieties many kids can feel about school and help encourage them to give school a real chance:

Francine’s Day

By Anna Alter

There is a long list of things Francine Fox does not want to do. She doesn’t want to get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, and more than anything else, she does not want to go to school.

Of course, her mother gently makes her go anyway, and when she doesn’t want to participate in school activities, her teacher Mr. Wendell uses his kind but no-nonsense personality to prod her through the school day.

At the end of the day, Francine receives a warm and welcoming hug from her mother. As she looks back on the day’s activities, she realizes that even though sometimes you wake up in a bad mood, you can still have positive experiences. 

The Kissing Hand

By Audrey Penn

Chester Raccoon wants to stay home with his mother and play with his toys; not go to school. Wise Mrs. Raccoon explains that we must sometimes do things we don’t want to do, but promises that he really will enjoy school once he gives it a try.

Just in case, Chester’s mommy shares a very special secret with him that will make going to school far less frightening. She calls the secret “the Kissing Hand”.

Mrs. Raccoon planted a sweet kiss right in the middle of Chester’s hand and told him to keep it so that he could place it against his cheek anytime he felt alone and know his mommy loves him.

Chester learns that even though he can’t always see her, his mother’s love is always with him.

On My Way to School

By Sarah Maizes

Livi has decided that she knows enough and doesn’t need to go to school. As her mother nudges her through her morning routine, the imaginative little girl invents a multitude of scenarios that slow her down.

She’s not a child looking for something to wear, but rather a pirate searching for buried treasure. A girl walking to the bus stop? Not Livi. She is an adventurer climbing Mount Everest with a heavy pack on her back.

Eventually she does make it to the bus stop – on time –and to school. She realizes that using your imagination can turn even boring or undesirable situations into something much more fun.

I Am Too Absolutely Small for School

By Lauren Child

Charlie likes school. Charlie’s parents say his little sister Lola is also ready to go to school. Lola is not so sure.

In fact, Lola is sure she is still quite small. She is certainly too small to go to school. And anyway, she has far too many important things to do at home.

Charlie tries to convince Lola that school is good. He tells her she will learn to count to 100, but Lola says counting to 10 is high enough. He tells her she will learn how to write, so she can send letters to people, but Lola prefers telephone calls.

With a great deal of creativity and a response for every excuse his sister has, Charlie is eventually able to persuade Lola to go to school. When she has a terrific first day, she informs Charlie that it was not her but her invisible friend who was nervous.

Read with your kids, talk to them about what to expect, and ask about any reservations they might have. Before you know it, they will be coming home to tell you excitedly about that big first day.

What books will you be reading with your child to prepare them for school? Share your favorites with us!

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