Back-to-School Books and Recipes 2021

After 18 months of guiding my kids’ learning from home, last week they finally returned to in-person school! This is honestly a bittersweet milestone for all of us as there were aspects of homeschooling that we all enjoyed but mostly it feels like a step forward; a new beginning in many ways. Whatever the situation is with school in your home this year, the books and recipes below are a great way to get kids excited for their new beginning. I still read some of these back-to-school picture books to my kids, even though one of them is entering middle school this year! In addition to these picture books, next week I will be featuring some back-to-school chapter books that we have found engaging for upper elementary and middle school kids. Happy back-to-school!

School's First Day of School -

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex has become my favorite back-to-school book for almost any age. The cheerful images by illustrator Christian Robinson are paired with the reflections of a school building as it anticipates the children filling it for the first day of school. Transferring some of children’s excitement and anxiety about starting school to a building is a great way to talk about those feelings in a less threatening way. I love the idea of a school building welcoming and embracing the children. I paired this book with a recipe for homemade sunflower butter and some ideas for using this lunch staple in new ways.

Although the book featured in this post, The Giant Jam Sandwich, is more of a summertime read, the recipes here for Stovetop Strawberry Jam and Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread are great for filling lunch boxes with homemade goodness. These are also both recipes that kids can easily help with and fun projects to make together, perhaps on the weekend.

Little Rabbit Goes to School by Harry Horse is one of the first picture books I ever bought for my kids, long before either of them entered school. We read this book starting when they were toddlers as a way of introducing the concept of school early on. This is another book about school that can truly be enjoyed by kids of all ages, including adults! The story of Little Rabbit and his friend Charlie Horse is warm, engaging, and hilarious. My kids still laugh at their antics even after reading the book hundreds of times. The accompanying recipe for Spiced Brown Sugar Oat Cakes is healthy, delicious, and versatile. These little cakes are filled with fiber from whole wheat and oats, fruit from the applesauce, and a hint of sweetness from brown sugar. They are good for breakfast, tucked into lunch boxes, or as a filling after school snack.

We often make this recipe for Long Life Noodles around Lunar New Year, but it is also a good one for school lunches or a quick weeknight dinner. These vegetarian noodles taste delicious either hot or cold so they are great for filling a thermos or sending in a bento box. Use whole wheat spaghetti or buckwheat soba noodles for an extra filling meal.

Chicken Soup with Wild Rice -

Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak was pivotal in helping both my kids learn the months of the year. This is a good skill to brush up on with your kids as the school year starts and they look forward to all the exciting things ahead. Chicken Soup with Rice also happens to be a healthy, comforting meal to pour in a thermos for lunch or a quick dinner for a busy weeknight. Even better, make a big pot for dinner on the weekend and reheat the leftovers for lunches all week!

Baked Winter Spice Oatmeal and review of the book "Flannel Kisses" -

The book Flannel Kisses by Linda Crotta Brennan is a look ahead to winter and a celebration of the pleasures of home. This book may seem incongruous with a back-to-school theme, but if you are one of the many families homeschooling or online schooling this year, this book is a comforting reminder of the joys of life at home. Also, the accompanying recipe for Winter Spice Baked Oatmeal is a lovely way to begin any school day, whether you are heading out the door or heading to the couch! This baked oatmeal is easy to make ahead and reheat for several days and is full of both fiber and flavor.

Some other delightful, inspiring back-to-school books for your enjoyment:

Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
Brand-new Pencils, Brand-new Books by Diane deGroat
It’s Back to School We Go!: First Day Stories From Around the World by Ellen Jackson
This is My Home, This is My School by Jonathan Bean for the homeschoolers out there!
Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen