Best ‘Back-to-School’ Books


Have you got your back-to-school reading lined up yet? There’s no better way to prepare for the new school year than with one of these brilliant children’s books!


Parrot Street Book Club co-founder, Sarah Campbell, gives us the lowdown on how fiction can help your child with the transition back to school this September and which chapter books she recommends you reach for first.

As the long summer holidays draw to a close, some of our children may be feeling anxious about the return to school. Whether they’re starting somewhere new or simply moving up to a new class, the transition can be challenging, both academically and emotionally.


Reading can help our children express their feelings…

Reading broadens our children’s vocabulary, which obviously has enormous academic benefits, but also helps improve their emotional literacy too. Reading gives them the language to better express how they are feeling and explore their emotions in a healthy way. Being able to express yourself well also helps build confidence, which is so valuable at this time of year.


And make new friends!

Reading helps our children understand others – it’s crucial in developing a stronger sense of empathy and a host of other social skills. When our children read about a character in a book, they have a response to that character, either positive or negative or something in between, and those responses are great practice for when they meet and react to people in their real lives.

Navigating the complexities of social interaction can be much easier when you’re able to understand other perspectives. Reading is a great way to equip them with the skills they need for interacting with other people in their daily lives.


Read together

Reading together, even once our children are able to read independently, can offer the opportunity to discuss key issues that might be affecting them or making them feel anxious. Books allow our children to explore, question and work things out for themselves. Reading together and talking about what we’ve read can afford both parents and children the perfect opportunity to discuss difficult issues in a safe setting.


Books for back-to-school

If your child is worried or nervous about making the transition into the new school year, here are a few chapter books for kids aged 5 to 11 that we think might help:


Five Ways to Make a Friend by Gillian Cross, illustrated by Sarah Horne

This lovely book follows Ella as she starts at a new school. All she wants to do is find a friend, but it’s really hard. The girls aren’t interested in her and she doesn’t have the courage to just join in… When she finds a book about making friends, Ella decides to try out the tips it recommends. Perfect for 5+.


Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell

This volume in Chris Riddell’s bestselling and beautifully illustrated series follows Ottoline as she enrols at the Alice B Smith School for the Differently Gifted. Amongst new friends with a host of unique skills and talents, Ottoline sets out to discover her own different gift. Perfect for 7+.


The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter

Aspiring comedian Billy is moving up to secondary school. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but especially for Billy who has a stammer. How will he find his voice, navigate his new school and make new friends, if his voice won’t let him speak? Perfect for 8+.


Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian

This hilarious illustrated chapter book tells the story of Omar, who has just moved into a new house. Starting at his new school is ok, apart from the fact that class bully Daniel tells Omar that because he’s a Muslim, he’s going to be kicked out of the country. But when Omar and Daniel get stranded on a school trip, Omar realises that Danny isn’t so tough after all… Perfect for 8+.


Pie in the Sky by Remi Lai

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture and making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English. Baking cakes is the only thing he can do to distract himself from the loneliness. This funny and moving story is packed with graphic novel elements. Perfect for 9+.


Parrot Street are an award-winning, book subscription box for 5 to 12 year-olds. We’ve teamed up with Sarah and the team to offer an exclusive discount for Storytime readers. Visit their website here and enter the code STORYTIME15 to receive a 15% discount, valid until the end of September


Happy reading,


The Storytime team