5 great back-to-school books for kids in grades 1–4

It’s not just kindergartners who worry about the start of school. Older grade-schoolers may also have concerns about how things will go this year. These five back-to-school books picked by founding partner Reading Rockets can help kids feel ready.

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything

By: Lenore Look

Illustrated by: Anne Wilsdorf

Age Level: 6–9

Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ruby Lu is an exuberant second grader who takes seriously her responsibility to help her cousin transition from China to his new school in America. Both kids end up in summer school, where Ruby has trouble with a long book.

Danitra Brown, Class Clown

By: Nikki Grimes

Illustrated by: E. B. Lewis

Age Level: 6–9

Reading Level: Independent Reader

Zuri and Danitra are best friends, but they have very different responses to school — from first-day jitters all the way to the halfway mark of the school year. Danitra Brown, Class Clown features poems and pretty watercolors, which help to chronicle the girls’ experiences and concerns.

Susan Laughs

By: Jeanne Willis

Illustrated by: Tony Ross

Age Level: 6–9

Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In Susan Laughs, rhyming text and colored-pencil illustrations tell the story of Susan’s everyday life. She behaves and participates in activities just like the other kids. But she does it using a wheelchair — a fact that isn’t revealed until the final spread.

Panda Math: Learning About Subtraction From Hua Mei & Mei Sheng

By: Ann Whitehead Nagda

Age Level: 6–9

Reading Level: Independent Reader

In 2003, panda Hua Mei was born at the San Diego Zoo. In Panda Math, Hua Mei’s growth is shown through basic addition and subtraction while life with her parents at the zoo is presented on opposite pages. Clear photographs and straightforward text give a fascinating portrait of these engaging animals while introducing math functions.

The Best Seat in Second Grade

By: Katharine Kenah

Illustrated by: Abby Carter

Age Level: 6–9

Reading Level: Independent Reader

When not picked as pet helper, second grader Sam decides to take the class hamster on their field trip. Unfortunately, the hamster (named George Washington) gets mixed up with other hamsters at the science museum. Sam ends up saving the day — or at least the hamster. In The Best Seat in Second Grade, children can identify with Sam’s behavior and emotions while enjoying this easy-to-read school story.


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