Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two back-to-school titles to ease kids into a new school year

I know, I know, the kids aren’t even out of school yet, and I’m talking about back-to-school books. Don’t yell at me! I received some adorable books from Charlesbridge, and thought, what better way to get rising preschoolers and kindergarteners ready for school? When my youngest was getting ready to start Pre-K, and later, Kindergarten, we read books about starting school throughout the summer, to introduce the ideas of classroom setup, recess, and learning time (as opposed to running around and playing all the time) to him. By the time school started, he had more of an idea of what to expect, and I felt better about dropping him off those first few days (look, I still cried, I’m not made of stone).

Anyway, if you’re developing your collections for back-to-school or want to have books handy to get your own kiddos excited about school over the next couple of months, jump in and check these two titles out.

Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School, by Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook/Illustrated by Andy Robert Davies, (June 2019, Charlesbridge), $14.99, ISBN: 9781580898249

Ages 3-6

This is the third Clothesline Clues book from Kathryn Heling, Deborah Hembrook, and Andy Robert Davies, and I’m thrilled that they’re introducing kids to the different people they’ll meet in a school setting. The Clothesline Clues books are popular at my library; Clothesline Clues to the Jobs People Do is especially popular for the local schools’ community helpers unit.

The rhyming story greets readers by drawing them in and letting them know that people are looking forward to meeting them on the first day of school: “High on the clotheslines/hang clue after clue/It’s the first day of school!/Who wants to meet you?” Spreads alternate between clotheslines for different people the kids will meet at school, inviting readers to guess “who wants to meet you?”, and the clothes belonging to that person, illustrated and performing their job. The crossing guard’s clothesline has a cloat, reflective vest, gloves, and hat; she’s revealed on the next spread, allowing a child and her grownup to cross the street. Teachers, cafeteria cooks, custodians, and classmates all have their clothes out on the line, waiting for the big first day of school. The characters are diverse, making this a book that welcomes all readers to a new school year. The text creates a real sense of anticipation, encouraging kids to wonder who’s waiting to meet them when they start school.

Another good Clothesline Clues book that I’ll be adding to my Back to School storytime in August. Get this one on your shelves now, so it’s there when kids and families need it.

Lola Goes to School, by Anna McQuinn/Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, (June 2019, Charlesbridge), $15.99, ISBN: 9781580899383

Ages 3-7

One of our favorite readers, Lola (Lula, in the UK), is starting school! I feel so invested in Lola; I’ve been reading Anna McQuinn’s Lola books since my high schooler was a preschooler, and she’s been a cornerstone of countless class visit readalouds. Lola is excited about starting school; she and her family set out her schoolbag and clothes the night before, and Lola brings her stuffed cat, Dinah, for moral support. In the morning, Lola’s mom takes that first day photo, and she’s off! She meets a new friend, Julia – another book fan – and has a great first day, filled with play, snacks, and circle time. Mommy picks Lola up after her big first day, and falls right to sleep: “School is fun… but exhausting!”

Lola Goes to School is a sweet look at a first day in preschool; Lola and her family develop a routine and have familiarized Lola with the school through previous visits, so she knows what to expect. The day is mixed with play, learning, and rest, and at the end of the school day, Mom’s there to take Lola home. Lola has been growing up through her books, creating a relationship with readers that will take them from toddlerhood through preschool and kindergarten. Sentences are short, easily readable for stronger, emerging readers and perfect for storytime reading. Lola’s colorful outfit pattern also repeats itself on the endpapers. Lola is a child of color, and her classmates are a diverse group of children.

Originally published in the UK, Lola (Lulu) is just as popular here as she is over on the other side of the pond. How do you not add a Lola book to your collections? You don’t. Add Lola Goes to School to your shelves, your Back To School storytimes, and buy an extra copy or two if your budget permits; your local teachers may be stopping in to pick up books for their Welcome To School storytimes.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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