It's Back to School We Go!

First Day Stories From Around the World

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

It’s back to school we go!

The first day of school is an event that brings mixed emotions to children everywhere. There is excitement in seeing old friends and it’s nice to begin a new year with a new teacher and good intentions. But first day feelings are mixed. Will last year’s friends still be friends? What if the new teacher doesn’t like me? Or what if the work is too hard?

Ellen Jackson and Jan Davey Ellis portray children from eleven different countries experiencing their first day back at school. Each child’s first-person account is enhanced by a fact box that tells us something about the culture from which the child speaks, so that the reader is able to compare and contrast the experiences of children from different parts of the world.

In words and pictures the author and artist have captured the diversity of children’s school experiences, while at the same time capturing how much the world’s children have in common.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Copyright 2003
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2003-08-01
Dewey 371.002
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9 x 12
Guided Reading Level Q
ATOS Reading Level 4.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 100002
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Maps, and Reviewed

Author: Ellen Jackson

Illustrator: Jan Davey Ellis


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 2003


Book Links

“Lively illustrations combine the particulars of each child’s experience with the universal themes of leaving home and finding a place in the classroom.” —Book Links


“For each of the 11 countries – Kenya, Japan, China, Peru, Canada, Kazakhstan, Australia, Germany, Russia, India, and the U.S. – there’s a short paragraph written in the child’s excited voice, accompanied by a page of facts about kids and school, including what the children eat and wear, the subjects they study, and the games and sports they play. A world map shows the countries, and lively, colorful illustrations in folk-art style combine the particulars of each child’s culture with the universals of leaving home and finding a place in the classroom. Jackson makes it clear that one child doesn’t represent everyone in a country, and kids will enjoy the quick snapshots and the connections.”

Publishers Weekly

“Portrays the first day of class for children from 11 different countries. First-person accounts capture the similarities and differences among children across the globe. A Kenyan girl eats Mandazi (fried bread) for lunch, a Peruvian boy paddles a canoe to school on the Amazon River and a Chinese boy’s favorite subject is brush painting. All of these children share an eagerness to learn.”
Publishers Weekly

School Library Journal

“Large, eye-catching spreads introduce the school experiences of children from 11 different countries, including Kenya, Kazakhstan, China, and Canada. Each entry includes the student’s name, age (ranging from six to nine), and place of residence. Then, in chatty style, the youngsters tell about their first day, describing the activities and the ambience of the school as well as their particular locale’s customs, foods, and family life. Bulleted lists present additional information. Stylized borders surround the text, and several colorful, realistic illustrations help bring each setting to life. A simplified world map shows the positions of the featured nations. A helpful list of Web resources includes sites for games, recipes, languages, and e-pals from around the world. Although there are many books about the first day of school, this multinational approach provides materials for comparing and contrasting cultures. A good choice for group sharing or individual reading throughout the academic year.”
School Library Journal