World Back-to-School Books

In many parts of the world, the summer holidays are over. September marks the beginning of a new term and the first day of primary school for a whole intake of young children. It can be a daunting and exciting time for new pupils. And for their parents and caregivers too!

Books can be a fantastic resource, enabling readers both big and small to approach this big life shift with understanding and confidence.

Here is a selection of five back-to-school books from around the globe.

Which world books would you add to the list?

Don't Go to SchoolDon’t Go to School! by Máire Zepf, illustrated by Tarsila Krüse (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017).

This title, originally published in Irish, turns the traditional back-to-school narrative on its head. Benno bear is super keen to start school, but his mommy doesn’t want him to go! As Mommy struggles with every aspect of the day, it is up to young Benno to take the lead. The gorgeous cast of furry friends adds to the appeal. Huge fun –and empowering too!


Lines Squiggles Letters WordsLines, Squiggles, Letters, Words by Ruth Rocha, illustrated by Madalena Matoso, translated from the Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Enchanted Lion, 2016)

The teacher writes a big ‘A’ on the board at school. When Pedro heads home, he sees A’s everywhere! He discovers that the lines and squiggles all around him are letters, and that these letters make words! Colourful, distinctive illustrations and clear, lively text – a great book for getting kids fired up about reading, learning and school.


Esko_1592_The First Journey_Cover_R15 - 290317.pdf

The First Journey by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien, (Scholastic Asia, 2017).

A young boy, An, sets out alone in his sampan to travel to school for the first time. The flooded Mekong River is in darkness and he must conquer his fears and the elements to arrive safely at his destination. A unique and stunningly visual first picture book (also released in Vietnamese).


The Noisy ClassroomThe Noisy Classroom by Ieva Flamingo, illustrated by Vivianna Maria Staņislavska, translated from the Latvian by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini, Sara Smith and Richard O’Brien (The Emma Press, 2017)

A wonderful collection of 40 short illustrated poems on life at school and outside it, told from a child’s perspective. Themes include modern technology, personal situations and the joys and challenges of school. Stunning artwork in just three colours conveys noise and movement as well as the more introspective concepts. Aimed at readers 8+.


What Does the Crocodile SayWhat Does the Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari (Book Island, 2018, published by arrangement with Debbie Bibo agency)

And finally, one for the teeny tinies who are starting daycare! Through tender illustrations and simple language, Italian author/illustrator Eva Montanari steers readers through little croc’s first day. The double spread of all the young animals napping will melt your heart. An appealing, entertaining and reassuring read.

Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading and chasing after her two young children.  She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at

2 thoughts on “World Back-to-School Books

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