10 Books on Starting School

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It’s September and that means everyone has started back to school. For little ones, this can be a tricky time that leads to lots of worry and what-ifs. These picture books (and 1 chapter book) are all great ways to guide them through this transition.



I am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child – Charlie and Lola books are so much fun. Lola is sure that she is too small to start school, but her brother Charlie patiently convinces her with all sorts of funny reasons on why she needs to go.



Wow! School! by Robert Neubecker – Izzy finds lots of things that “wow” her on her first day of school.



Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton – Splat is nervous about his first day at cat school, but it goes better than expected.



The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn – Chester Raccoon is nervous about his first day of school, until his mother tells him a story that reassures him.



Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman – Chu, the sneezy panda is heading off to school for the first time. He hopes the other boys and girls will be nice and wonders what will happen there.



Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes by Eric Litwin – Of course we can’t forget Pete! Pete’s all ready for school: he’s got his red high-tops, his backpack, his lunch box, and his red guitar. There are a lot of new things during his day, but he doesn’t worry and just keeps singing his song.



Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park – This is a beginner chapter book and not a picture book, but Junie B. is great for reading aloud! Junie B. describes her first day of kindergarten and what happens when she decides not to take the bus home like she’s supposed to.



School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex – It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary, and even the school itself is a little nervous.



Sumi’s First Day of School Ever by Soyung Pak – After Sumi’s first day of school, she decides it is not as lonely, scary, or mean as she had thought.



Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes – Wemberly is a little mouse and she is quite the worrier. Starting nursery school brings a whole list of new worries, but she faces her fears on her first day.


Miss Jessica


Modern Mythology

Myths are full of action, adventure, and drama!  They are so vivid and compelling, it’s no wonder many modern works draw inspiration from these tales of old.

If you or a reader you know can’t get enough gods, monsters, and mortals, you may be interested in some of the following books and series.

Greek Myths 

Beasts of Olympus Series by Lucy Coats

Heroes in Training Series Series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Goddess Girls Series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Mythic Misadventures series by Carolyn Hennesy

The Olympians graphic novel series by George O’Connor


Norse Myths

Norse Myths Series by Carl Bowen

Norse myths : tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki in New Versions by Kevin Crossley-Holland and illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love

The Blackwell Pages Series by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Freya adapted by Christopher E. Long and illustrated by Mike Dubisch


Egyptian Mythology

The Children of the Lamp Series by P.B. Kerr

The Kane Chronicles graphic series and novel series by Rick Riordan

Many of Rick Riordan’s other works are inspired by mythology too.  The Trials of Apollo series and the Percy Jackson & the Olympians graphic and novels are two very popular series.

His new publishing imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, aims to feature authors and stories from underrepresented cultures.


The first book published, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, is a fantastic adventure involving Hindu mythology.  

There are also plans to release a book based on Navajo mythology and Cuban folklore, so stay tuned for those!

Miss Tess

Harry Potter Read-Alikes

For many of us, reading the final pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows was bittersweet.  While My book-loving heart reveled in seeing the story come to a close, it also left a void.  I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about.  That feeling that any other book you pick up is just not going to capture your imagination in the same way.  You aren’t going to catch yourself thinking about the character or plot of another book in the same way.  It takes some time and just the right book to come along before you can move on to a new series.  While there are TONS of great fantasy reads out there and authors who can build a magical world like none other, certain stories just stand out and make the void of ending the epic Harry Potter series a little easier.  Check out any of these the next time you stop in to visit.


Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven series

Kendra and Seth Sorenson end up at their grandparents house while their parents go off on a cruise.  Through a series of puzzles laid out by their grandfather, they discover that their grandparents home and property is actually a preserve for magical creatures.  Protecting the creatures on the preserve from the outside world, an evil society, and many other trials is no small feat and leads this sibling duo on many adventures.  There are five books in this series.


The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Magisterium series

Call, whose father is a former mage who has rejected magic after the death of Call’s mother, has waited a long time to find out if he has sufficient magical ability to attend training at the Magisterium.  It is revealed that Call does have magical ability, but what if his abilities are evil rather than good?  There are four books in this series so far with a fifth, The Golden Tower, coming out September of 2018.


Puddlejumpers by Mark Jean and Christopher C. Carlson

Like Harry Potter, the main character of this stand-alone book, Ernie, is an orphan.  With his mother dead and his father a mystery, he has no idea of his not-so-average start.  The reader soon finds out however that Ernie is actually a Puddlejumper, a fairy-like creature who lives on the flipside of puddles in our world.  At birth he was tasked with an important job, prophesied to protect the Puddlejumpers from their greatest enemy, the Trogg.  This, however, is all a world away from the group home he lives in with a guardian who dislikes him as much as he dislikes her.  Fate puts things in motion though, and Ernie is reunited with his father and the Puddlejumpers to fulfill his destiny.


The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell

The Uncommoners series

Ivy and her brother, Seb, live with their Grandma Sylvie.  When Grandma Sylvie breaks her arm and a bracelet she always wears, one that she has worn since a tragic car accident stole all of her memories when she was only sixteen, must be cut off their world flips upside down.  The world of Lundinor can all of the sudden see them and the hunt is on to call their family on the carpet for dark crimes committed in a world they know nothing about.  Ivy and Seb are desperate to defend their grandmother and navigate Lundinor with the help of their newfound friend, Valian.  Navigating Lundinor is no easy task though.  The most common objects do uncommon things.  Belts can make you fly, police officers can arrest you with toilet brushes, and candles hide more than they reveal.  The world of Lundinor definitely filled my homesickness for Hogwarts and the world of Harry Potter.  Bell did an excellent job building and exciting magical world for readers to explore.  The second book in this series will have it’s US release in February of 2019.  Also like Harry Potter, the titles may be slightly different on this side of the pond!


Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor Series 

Morrigan Crow is a cursed child born an Eventide.  This destines her not only to die young but to also be the scapegoat for every awful thing that happens to her village.  From weather to broken bones to spoiled jam, Morrigan is always to blame just because she smiled at someone, commented of the lovely weather, or wished someone good luck!  On the night she is to die, a stranger shows up at her house and whisks her away to Nevermoor where she is relieved beyond belief to have escaped death.  What waits for her there however is daunting and will require her to face her biggest fears to find her greatest rewards.  She is apprentice to Jupiter North of the Wundrous Society, the city’s most prestigious organization.  In order to become a member she is tasked with 4 trials which she must pass to be admitted.  The trials require bravery, cunning, honesty, and a unique talent that Morrigan must possess, even if she has no clue what it is. Will she be admitted?  Find out what her talent is?  This is book one of a series.  Book two, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow, will be released in November of 2018.


Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The Pandavas series

Aru Shah is a bit of a fibber.  To compensate for her workaholic mom who never takes her anywhere exciting Aru has a very vivid fantasy life.  Her lies land her in a spot of trouble when three classmates confront her and challenge her light the Lamp of Bharata, which happens to be cursed.  One quick light of the lamp launches Aru into an adventure to save her mom and friends who have been frozen, the result of a demon named The Sleeper being awakened and freed from the lamp.  Aru’s adventure leads her to discover that fate has more in store for her than even her wild imagination can dream up.  This is book one in a series.  Book two, Aru Shah and the Song of Death, will be released in April 2019.


The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil series

Sophie and Agatha are best friends despite being total opposites.  Together they are kidnapped and brought for training at the school of Good and Evil, where one will be trained to be a storybook hero and the other, a villain.  Sophie, who has been training for the role of storybook princess and hero her whole life gets a shock when it is determined she has just the right skill set for the School of Evil.  Meanwhile Agatha, who is not really a people person and loves black almost as much as her wicked pet cat, is shipped off the the School of Good.  What appears at first to be a crazy mistake just might be the clue to discovering who they really are.  There are 4 books in this series.  Book five, A Crystal in Time, will be released in March 2019.


The Shadows by Jacqueline West

The Books of Elsewhere series

Olive is not thrilled when her parents decide they are moving into an old crumbling house.  Not only did the previous owner die but she left behind tons of paintings.  The one outside her room especially gives her the creeps.  The strange thing is that none of the paintings can be taken down.  They are all stuck fast to the walls.  After exploring her creepy new home, Olive discovers that she can travel in and out of the paintings to a world called Elsewhere.  It is a dark world, yet familiar.  Though Olive makes friends in Elsewhere, she also makes enemies and must unravel the mysteries of Elsewhere to save her home and her family.  There are five books in this series.


The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Sea of Trolls trilogy

Jack and his sister, Lucy, are kidnapped by Vikings.  If that isn’t bad enough, Lucy manages to offend the Viking Queen which causes her hair to fall out.  To save Lucy from the Queen’s wrath, Jack must go on a quest to the Well of Mirmir.  This well possess magical qualities to regrow the queens hair however, the journey to get their is perilous, filled with fantastical creatures and at the well, trolls.  Will Jack be able to save his sister from a terrible fate?  This series contains three books.


Miss Marta

The Next Step: Early Chapter Readers


Making the jump from early readers to chapter books can be daunting. Fortunately, authors and publishers are realizing the need for fun, simpler chapter books to help kids make that transition.

Below are a list of book series to start children off on their new reading challenge with some fun reading. Individual books in each series may be easier or harder. In the listing below you will find written the different reading system levels for the first book in each series to aid you in choosing a series you feel will encourage your child’s reading.

Please don’t’ hesitate to ask at the Children’s Desk for help to find these books and for additional suggestions.




Haggis and Tank Unleashed by Jessica Young     J Fic You

Reading Levels: Lexile 480 / Guided Reading  M / Accelerated Reader 3.1

A mix of chapters and comic book panels with full page color illustrations.


Judy Moody and Friends by Megan McDonald     J Fic McD

Reading Levels: Lexile 480 / Guided Reading J / Accelerated Reader 2.5

Judy Moody stories just right for new readers. Lots of illustrations in color.


Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo     J Fic Dic

Reading Levels: Lexile 450 / Guided Reading  K / Accelerated Reader 2.7

Kids will adore this lovable pig and her antics. Lots of color illustrations.


Monkey Me by Timothy Roland     J Fic Rol

Reading Levels: Lexile 510 / Guided Reading O / Accelerated Reader 2.4

Thanks to a wacky banana, energetic Clide turns into a monkey when he gets excited!


Nancy Clancy by Jane O’Connor     J Fic Oco

Reading Levels: Lexile 450 / Guided Reading O / Accelerated Reader 3.3

Fancy Nancy is growing up and now is interested in dectective work- but in a fancy way, of course! Illustration in black and white.


Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings      J Fic Cum

Reading Levels: Lexile 490 / Guided Reading M / Accelerated Reader 3.3

For those young, brave readers who like creepy things such as balloon monsters out to get you. Cartoon type illustrations in black and white.


Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott     J Fic Ell

Reading Levels: Lexile 400 / Guided Reading M / Accelerated Reader 3.0

Fun books about friends written in diary form with some speech bubbles. Illustrations in color.


The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale      J Fic Hal

Reading Levels: Lexile 500 / Guided Reading N /Accelerated Reader 3.2

Funny and action packed—this is not your average princess. Illustrations in color.


Princess Posey by Stephanie Greene     J Fic Gre

Reading Levels: Lexile 380 / Guided Reading  K / Accelerated Reader 2.9

Simpler and calmer than Junie B Jones but just as lovable. Black and White Illustrations.


Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey     J Fic Pil

Reading Levels: Lexile 520 / Guided Reading L / Accelerated Reader 2.9

Has comic book panels, superhero action, and Pilkey’s Flip-O-Rama. Illustrations in color.


Yo-Kai Watch by Kate Howard     J Fic Yok

Reading Levels: Lexile 430 / Guided Reading N / Accelerated Reader 3.4

Fun Yo-Kai characters in chapter book form for young readers. Illustrations in color.

My Lunch with Author Jill Esbaum

One of the perks of being a children’s librarian is that we sometimes, once in a while, get to meet some pretty amazing people in children’s-book land! Today I was able to join children’s book author Jill Esbaum for lunch here at the library cafe and learn a little more about her. Having read her books with my kids, and to groups of kiddos as part of our regular programming, it was so interesting to hear first-hand a little bit about how she became an author, her writing process,  and just enjoy seeing her face light up as she described working with different publishers and illustrators- a special behind-the scenes glimpse at how the books my kids and I know and love were created.


Jill will be here at the library this Saturday, April 14th at 2pm at a special event celebrating her books, including her newest one, How to Grow a Dinosaur. We will have games, activities and fun crafts based on several of her books at this event for all ages.

Wondering if you’ve read any books by Jill? I bet you have, and you just may not know it! She’s written over 40 books, many of which are favorites here at the library. If you haven’t, be sure to come check these out next time you visit us! My kids absolutely LOVE Estelle Takes a Bath, and with its goofy rhyming it makes a perfect read-aloud. They were completely engrossed by Teeny Tiny Toady, and even got a little teary as the tiny toad struggled to find her bravery and get her mama out of the bucket, and cheered when she used her smarts to find a way. And of course, her work for National Geographic has been amazing!

Miss Janna