Take a Deep Breath: Facing Back-to-School Anxiety

And just like that, summer vacation is coming to an end once again. After months of fun in the sun, it’s time for kids to head back into the classroom and kick off a new school year. Between new teachers, new classmates, and new coursework, it’s no surprise kids get overwhelmed about starting a new grade. Whether students are just starting kindergarten, moving up to middle school, or just don’t want to leave the comforts of home yet, SSHEL has plenty of books to help them feel less afraid and less alone. Back-to-school anxiety is incredibly common, and the characters in the books below sure understand how scary a new school year can be. Browse this list to help discover ways for students to discuss and cope with their anxieties.

To find more books about back-to-school anxiety or anxiety in general, use the library catalog to search subject terms like “anxiety” and “juvenile” or “school anxiety” and “juvenile.”

Boldt, Mike.
A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School). 2016.
The first day of school can be scary enough on its own, so when Anya wakes up sporting a striped tiger tail, she doesn’t know what to do. Will the other students make fun of her? Is she even allowed to go to school anymore? Should she just run away and join the circus? Find out what happens to Anya as she faces many new life challenges.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SE. B63772t]

Hartt-Sussman, Heather.
Noni is Nervous. 2013.
Noni worries about almost everything: global warming, making new friends, etc. She especially worries about attending the first day of school. When Noni makes a new, outgoing friend, however, she learns that friendship can help her feel more comfortable and help her control her anxiety.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. H258nn]

Huber, Mike.
Mama’s Gloves. 2014.
Esteban loves doing fun activities at school, but he can’t help that he still misses his mom every day. He knows she’ll always pick him up from school with two kisses and a hug, but he doesn’t mind keeping her gloves with him during the day to remind him of her constant love.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. H8624m]

Kraulis, Julie.
Whimsy’s Heavy Things. 2013.
Little Whimsy is constantly weighed down by her many anxieties. She tries to hide them in a tree, sweep them under the rug, and sail them off to the sea, but they always find a way to creep back into Whimsy’s life. After countless struggles, Whimsy learns ways to control her anxieties and even become inspired by them.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. K867w]

Moss, Wendy.
School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety-Busting Tools. 2014.
If you’ve ever felt nervous before a big test, spent all night trying to finish last-minute assignments, developed butterflies in your stomach during a presentation, or felt overwhelming stress just trying to make it through the school day, this book is for you! Full of fun strategies to help cope with school stresses and anxieties, this book will become any student’s new best friend.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.371.30281 M855s]

Portis, Antoinette.
Kindergarten Diary. 2010.
When Annalina’s mom tells her she has to start “big kid” school, Annalina isn’t too happy about it. To help ease Annalina’s nerves, her mom suggests that she keep a diary about her time in kindergarten. By recording the ups and downs of her school days, Annalina realizes that kindergarten can actually be a fun place to attend.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SE. P836k]

Quakenbush, Robert.
First Grade Jitters. 2010.
A young boy explains everything he’s worried about regarding the first day of first grade. What if his friends from kindergarten aren’t in his class? What if his teacher speaks a totally different language? What if he’s supposed to already know arithmetic and spelling? With some reassurance from his friends, he lets his worries subside and actually gets excited to start a new grade.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. Q21f2010]

Vail, Rachel.
Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters. 2010.
Much to his dismay, Justin is about to start third grade. He is so not looking forward to starting school because he doesn’t have the teacher he wanted, he and his best friend aren’t in the same class, his little sister is starting kindergarten at his school, and he still can’t find his lost favorite stuffed animal. It’s all too much for one kid to handle. Join Justin as he navigates the new, daunting school year and learns that third grade might not actually be so scary.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. V1933ju]

Vivat, Booki.
Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom. 2016.
Abbie Wu is starting middle school and quickly spiraling into crisis mode. Her family just doesn’t get her and she seems to be the only one of her friends who doesn’t have a particular passion in life. Add to that the typical awkwardness of becoming a middle schooler and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect, pre-teen disaster. When trouble in the cafeteria sparks, however, Abbie discovers she just might have a knack for leadership after all.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. V837fr]

Wright, Michael.
Jake Starts School. 2008.
It’s Jake’s first day of school. Ever. And he’s pretty nervous to spend the entire day away from mom and dad. To help ease him into the life of a student, Jake’s parents sit with him in his classroom all day and watch the other students learning and playing. All three are worried that Jake will never be able to attend school alone, but Jake’s teacher has a few excellent tricks up her sleeve to coax him away from his parents.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. W934ja]

Zuppardi, Sam.
Jack’s Worry. 2016.
Jack loves playing the trumpet and can’t stop practicing for his first ever concert. As the big day draws near, however, Jack starts feeling a looming presence in his life: a Worry. No matter where Jack goes, his Worry follows, and it just gets bigger and bigger until Jack finally learns how to destress and confidently face the fear of trying new things.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. Z87j]