Seven Super Books for Starting School

Published on: 16 August 2023

Daisy Upton, aka the Five-Minute Mum, recommends some brilliant books to read with a pre-schooler.

"The Invisible String" by Patrice Karst

This book is especially good if your little one is not used to being away from you for very long and school is the first time they won’t see you for most of the day. It helps explain how love works even when we can't be together to help support little ones with separation anxiety. When my children are feeling a bit wobbly, I draw hearts on their wrists and one on my own to help show them we are connected through our invisible string.

"In My Heart: A book of Feelings" by Jo Witek

We bought this book when one of my children was struggling to cope with big emotions when they came home extremely tired after those first few busy weeks at school. It helped them to describe how they were feeling and gave us a reference point to turn to when it was hard to explain. We still use it regularly now. 

"What Happened to you?" by James Catchpole

A beautifully illustrated book about disability and helping children to understand other people's perspectives. Seeing things from someone else's point of view is a complicated concept for a child to grasp but books like this can help open their eyes and begin the conversation around disability and our differences and similarities as people. 

"Wise Before Five: Amazing things to know before you start school" by Ekaterina Trukhan

This book is filled with lots of brilliant concepts that your child will also get to know at school. They don't need to know it all before they start but getting familiar with things like animals, numbers and shapes is super helpful. It also covers self-care like personal hygiene and recognising our feelings. It is a brilliant way to prepare them for the adventure to come. 

"Super Duper You" by Sophie Henn

A super vibrant book about being confident in yourself and your abilities. A fabulous way to start a conversation with your little one about what makes them special and unique and why it is so important that they believe in themselves. 

"All Are Welcome" by Alexandra Penfold

If we want to create a better and fairer society for us all then ensuring our children understand about race, racism and diversity is hugely important. I like to discuss racism with my children so they recognise it and would know what to do if they were to witness it. There are lots of brilliant books on anti-racism for children. This is a particularly good one for starting school. Sometimes big subjects can feel overwhelming to discuss with children, but books are the perfect way to build a framework for those conversations in an age-appropriate way. 

Starting School by Allan and Janet Ahlberg 

A classic. It's the book I read to my children to help them know what school might be like. Although it's now quite old and reflects more of what school was like for my generation than my children's, it's a lovely way for you to tell your child what it was like for you at school. Often if we open up to our children they will then feel more comfortable doing so by return. I also love the page where it says 'sometimes the teacher is not cheerful either' because when I was teaching I certainly had days like this - and it's a great reminder for us all that teachers are only human too! 

"Starting School" by Daisy Upton is out now.

Topics: Features


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles.

Find out more