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8 Books for Preschoolers to Get Them Pumped for Their First Day

Photo by Rob and Julia Campbell / Stocksy United / 352236
Photo by Rob and Julia Campbell / Stocksy United

By Rachel Ward

Art, readalouds, singing, and playtime, too—there’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to preschool! But all that excitement can lead to a big case of nerves for little ones who haven’t yet embarked on their first day of school.

We know that the first day of preschool is an exciting (if not, emotional) time of transition...for everyone. Reading together not only helps first-time preschoolers get ready for this next step, it helps you prepare for the big day, too.

These 8 titles are the best books to read to preschoolers to prep them (and ease any fears) as they step out of the nest and begin their learning journey!

Night Before Preschool cover
The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer. Used by permission of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.

1. The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing

Age group: Preschool

Billy’s first day of preschool starts out a little rough, but with tons of fun activities and the generosity of a newfound friend, he sees how fun it can be. Kids will love the rhyming structure loosely based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!

Llama Llama Misses Mama cover
Llama Llama Misses Mama. Copyright © 2009 by Anna Dewdney. Used by permission of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.

2. Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

Age group: Toddlers/Preschool

Llama is excited about the first day of preschool—that is, until his mama has to leave. At first, Llama’s a little scared, but after a while he starts to have fun with his classmates. Before he knows it, his mama’s back to pick him up!

Time for Preschool cover
Copyright © 2012 by Esme Raji Codell. Cover art copyright © 2012 by Sue Rama. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

3. It’s Time for Preschool! by Esme Raji Codell

Age group: Toddlers/Preschool

If you’re looking for a basic intro to the preschool experience, this is it! This book gives kids a rundown on who will be at preschool, where they’ll put their things (that first cubby is so special), and all the fun they’ll have during the day (Sand tables! Art fun! Puppet shows! Cooking experiments!).

When I Miss You cover
Text copyright © 2004 by Cornelia Maude Spelman. Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Kathy Parkinson. Published by Albert Whitman & Company. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

4. When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman

Age group: Toddlers

A young guinea pig talks frankly about the big emotions (such as sadness and fear) that she experiences when her parents are away and she misses them. By doing so, she accepts her feelings while remembering that at the end of the day, they’ll have a joyful reunion. This one’s perfect for little ones who are still learning to name, understand, and express emotions.

First Day at Nursery School cover
Text copyright © 2002 by Becky Edwards. Illustrations copyright © 2002 by Anthony Flintoft. Used by permission of Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. All rights reserved.

5. My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards

Age group: Preschool

When our three-year-old heroine finds herself in a new environment alone on the first day at nursery school, her constant (and loud) refrain is, “I want my mommy!” But with encouragement from her teachers, playtime with friends, and awesome activities, she’s singing, “I want to stay at nursery school!” by day’s end.

Preschool Day Hooray cover
From PRESCHOOL DAY HOORAY! by Linda Leopold Strauss. Scholastic Inc./Cartwheel Books. Copyright © 2010 by Linda Leopold Strauss. Reproduced by permission.

6. Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss

Age group: Toddlers/Preschool

Gooey glue, slippery slides, and “topply” blocks—this book’s focus on sensory language and details makes kids feel like they’re already living a day in the preschool life and gets them excited for the real deal.

The Kissing Hand cover
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak. Used by permission of Tanglewood Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

7.  The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Age group: Toddlers/Preschool

When Chester the raccoon doesn’t want to leave his mother for school, she kisses his hand and tells him that when he feels lonely, all he has to do is hold that hand to his face and he will feel her love with him all day long. Try it with your own little clinger!

Kindergarten Rocks cover
Kindergarten Rocks! Copyright © 2005 by Katie Davis. Used with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

8. Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis

Age group: Preschool/Kindergarten

Dexter is super nervous about going to kindergarten, but he needn’t have worried. With some encouragement from his big sister and his trusty stuffed lovie, he winds up having a blast—and can’t wait for his second day!

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