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Kindergarten Readiness: Storybooks 

Using storybooks to get your child ready for being a kindergartener and what to do when more support is needed. 

 Moving from preschool to kindergarten can be a big step for children and caregivers. St. David’s Center ECE teachers and inclusion specialists see storybooks as powerful tools for creating positive, shared moments and conversation that ease this transition. 

Why Use Storybooks 

Storybooks provide shared visuals that can easily spark conversations. Storybooks about school incorporate many different characters and themes and can be chosen based on you and your child’s interests. Authors use animals, dinosaurs, and even sea monsters to approach the topic of a school day. Familiar and beloved characters like Curious George, Clifford, and Pete the Cat are also used in stories about school. Specific themes and topics range from the social-emotional aspects of school (including fear and sadness) to what it is like riding a school bus to funny occurrences that can happen throughout the course of a school day. This wide selection of character and story topics means that parents and children have plenty of choice when it comes to finding books to which they can best relate. 

How to Find Good Books 

There is no great secret to finding a book worth reading because any picture book related to school can serve as a start to a worthwhile conversation. Try going to the library, a bookstore, or online sources like Picture Books About Kindergarten, and pick out books that appeal to you and your child.

How to Use Books and Conversation to Build Your Child’s Understanding of the Upcoming Change 

  • Separate your worry from the conversation. Remember that your child trusts you. If you show confidence in this big step, they will also feel confident.  
  • Read the books together, and talk about the pictures – not just the main idea of the story. What is going on in different areas of the picture? Lots of conversations can be started based on what you are seeing in the background. 
  • Use open-ended questions and comments when talking about the pictures. For example:  
    • I wonder what will happen next.
    • What do you think they should do? 
    • Look at all those toys! What would you play with? 
    • That child is playing with blocks; you like blocks. What could you build together? 
    • That child is sad. What would help them feel better? 
    • Talk about how you would feel and what you would do in a situation like the one in the story. 
  • Let your child be the thought leader. If they mention a worry, validate and show understanding before problem-solving. For example: 
    • You sound worried. 
    • You feel worried when you see that child feels sad. 

 Some ECE Favorite Books for School Transitions 

  • “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins 
  • “If You’re Angry and You Know It!” by Cecily Kaiser    
  • “Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes” by Eric Litwin   
  • “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg  
  • “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst  

 What if there are more specific concerns? 

  • Does your child know what to do to feel better when they are sad or mad? 
  • Can they use familiar coping strategies in new situations? 
  • Do they know when to ask a teacher for help? 
  • Are they comfortable following along in a new routine? 
  • Is there a specific part of the day or way your child might feel during the school day that you would want to give them more strategies for?  

Social Stories 

To address these questions, sometimes it makes sense to write a specific story for a child. Called “social stories,” these types of tales are learning tools that support the thoughtful exchange of information between an adult and a child. Social stories are used to teach particular social skills and abstract ideas. They are specific to each child and often include their picture and ideas for them to use in a new setting.  

Conversations sparked from social stories support concepts like:  

  • Helping your child translate the coping strategies they already know to a kindergarten setting. 
  • Understanding new routines and new people that can help. 
  • Introducing new ways that your child can get their needs met in a classroom. 

The inclusion team that works in St. David’s Center’s ECE program often writes and utilizes social stories to support children. If you’re interested in learning more about these tools, they’ll be happy to talk to you. Feel free to contact Karen Zemlin, SDC Care Manager, at  

Additional Kindergarten Readiness resources can be found here.

Starting kindergarten is a big change for children and caregivers. Fortunately, storybooks offer fun ways to provide shared visuals, spark conversation, and gain confidence that can aid in this transition. 


ECE is currently enrolling for the 2022-2023 school year! For more information, go to  

Karen Zemlin has worked in the inclusion field for over 35 years. In Karen’s 13 years at St. David’s Center, she has worked as a mental health practitioner in our autism services and as a teacher, supervisor, and inclusion specialist in our Early Childhood Program. Karen enjoys using play and laughter to build relationships with all children. Karen has created programming that allows children in therapy programs and children in our preschool program to interact and engage as friends. She continues this work in the care manager role, while partnering with families to reduce obstacles and create connections to help them feel supported and informed. As Care Manager, Karen works across all areas of a child’s care to facilitate communication that best serves the child’s and family’s needs.

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