5 Diverse Back to School Picture Books

Although we all want to make summer last as long as possible, it’s time to start thinking about sending the kids back to school. A new school year can be a nerve-wracking time for kids who are starting school for the first time, attending a new school, or just missing the comfort of home. The good news is there are dozens of excellent and diverse picture books to calm kids’ nerves and get them excited for a new academic year. Here are some of our favorite diverse back-to-school picture books.

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#1: The Name Jar

The Name Jar cover

This book is perfect for kids moving to a new school, city, or country. The Name Jar stars a young girl who immigrates to the U.S. from Korea. Afraid of revealing her given name, she goes nameless for a week while her new classmates suggest American names. In the end, her classmates learn and love her real name, reminding kids that being yourself is the best way to make new friends.

#2: School’s First Day of School

School's First Day of School cover

School’s First Day of School is told from the point of view of Frederick Douglass Elementary School, who is feeling a little nervous. The school year is starting soon, and Frederick Douglass Elementary School is a new school. What will the first day of school be like? School leans on the expertise of the janitor to assuage his first-day jitters and launch an exciting new year. An excellent example of a diverse back to school picture book; every illustration in this inventive story features children from a wide range of backgrounds.

#3: Grace for President

Grace for President cover

Kids will look forward to going to school when they learn about all the cool opportunities that await them. In Grace for President, a young girl is outraged to learn that there has never been a female U.S. president. Grace decides that she will be first and launches a campaign to win her school’s mock election. Perfect for little leaders who aspire to land a seat on the student council.

#4: This is How We Do it

This is How We Do It cover

Learn how kids from around the world go to school! This book follows seven real kids throughout a typical day in Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia. Learn how they arrive at school, who their teachers are, and where they do their homework. Stick around to the end to see photos of the real families that inspired the book!

#5: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

We Don't Eat Our Classmates cover

This brand-new book will make nervous kiddos laugh out loud! It’s a new school year, and Penelope Rex is excited to start kindergarten. But when the young Tyrannosaurus rex arrives at school, she realizes all her classmates are delicious-looking children. So she eats them. That’s just the beginning of this story featuring a classroom full of diverse children. The kids are okay, and Penelope eventually learns her lesson—we don’t eat our classmates!

Bonus: My Magic Breath

My Magic Breath cover

For children who are very nervous, I highly recommend My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing. Vibrant illustrations and interactive exercises teach kids how to breathe their way through scary or overwhelming situations. This is also a great bedtime book to help kids wind down for sleep.

With these fun and diverse back to school picture books in tow, your child can enter a new school year feeling confident and excited. For more recommendations, check out our round-up of the best books to encourage kids and calm nerves.

Diverse Back-to-School Picture Books

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Back to School Ideas for Multicultural and Multiracial Children

Finding Your Story in Diverse Books

Multicultural Literature for Middle School

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Tracy Babler is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, MN, who specializes in writing for nonprofits focused on racial and economic justice. She writes about children’s literature at luandbeanread.com and produces the Lu and Bean Read children’s story podcast with her two young daughters.

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