Shelf Life: ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten’

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

We’ve all heard this saying, attributed to the title of Robert Fulghum’s 1986 book.

As summer comes to an end, the kids will soon be headed back to school, and some are just beginning. I still remember my first day of kindergarten at Saluda School, entering Mr. Pace’s classroom and seeing my classmates riding Big Wheels and comparing their various heart-adorned pencil cases.

Here are some great back-to-school books for the young children in your life!

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“Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes” by Eric Litwin

In this book, the ever-popular Pete the Cat discovers all the cool places at school, including the library, cafeteria and playground. Of course, he’s moving and grooving and singing his song along the way!

“Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly is a worrier. She worries about everything from spilling her juice to snakes in the radiator. But the one thing she worries about most is her first day of school. Luckily, she finally realizes that school is too much fun to waste time worrying!

“Chu’s First Day of School” by Neil Gaiman

Newbery Medal-winning author Gaiman introduces us to adorable panda Chu, who is heading off for his first day of school and nervous. School Library Journal calls the book “a charming title that is sure to leave kids wanting more.”

“On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe

This engaging adaptation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” eases children’s kindergarten fears as it explains all of the cool things to do in school, such as making new friends and riding the bus.

“School’s First Day of School” by Adam Rex

This book tells about the first day of school from the point of view of the school. The school is nervous because he hopes the children will like him and be nice to him. On the first day of school, he realizes he’s not the only one with first-day jitters.

“Click, Clack, Quack to School!” by Doreen Cronin

Published just last month, the latest book in the Click, Clack series sees the critters going to school, as Farmer Brown has been invited to be a guest at the elementary school’s Farm Day.

“Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate

Miss Bindergarten prepares for the first day of school as her 26 prospective students (one for each letter of the alphabet) do the same. This rhyming, brightly illustrated book is the perfect way to practice the ABCs.

“Zombelina School Days” by Kristyn Crow

Zombelina loves to dance, and going to school is just as fun! According to Kirkus Reviews, “this zombie may not be able to keep her body together, but she can sure keep her head in delicate situations and be a good friend.”

Jen Pace Dickenson is the youth services librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.