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The BEST book to read for back-to-school nerves

The Kissing Hand  by Audrey Penn is a great back to school read aloud to prepare your kids for going back to school. Click to read a quick synopsis, questions to ask while reading, and activities to complete with this book. Discussing Chester Raccoon’s feelings and your own child’s feelings about heading back to school helps make this transition a bit easier.

Back to school nerves? Excitement? Stress? Tears? Back to school comes with a whole mix of emotions~ for both you and your child! This month, my littlest intern (for now!) starts kindergarten. (Please note some of the links below are affiliate links. You will not be charged an additional fee, but I may make a small percentage back if you purchase from these links).

One of my favorite books to read as a teacher AND a mom is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. There are 2 versions of the book: There is a board book version for preschoolers and a paperback version here that I used to read to my first graders!

We have read this book together since the first day of preschool for my oldest intern. I tend to choke back tears as we read about little Chester Racoon leaving for school.

This book covers so many topics that are great for going back to school. The most important thing you can do after reading this story is to TALK to your kids about their feelings with starting school. If you're not getting anywhere with the discussion, you can relate back to Chester Raccoon's feelings in the story.


  • How was Chester feeling about going to school?

  • What did his mom do to make him feel better?

  • What does Chester do in school? Do you think you'll do some of those things in school?

  • How are you feeling about going back to school? Do you feel any of the same feelings as Chester?

Honestly, the discussion is much more important than the craft or activity you will make. I find that my little interns are much more open and talk MORE when they are doing something, such as crafting, while they are talking. You may start this small craft and learn a little more about how they feel about the first day of school.

They are so many different activities you can do with The Kissing Hand!


  • make a Chester raccoon out of paper plates

  • bake handprint cookies and put a Hershey's kiss in the palm

  • trace a hand on a piece of paper and add a heart to the center

  • paint a handprint and cut a construction paper or foam heart in the middle of the palm

My little interns just took foam hearts and foam hands I had in stock to make these quick hands. They plan to take them in their backpacks so they remember our conversations and how much love there is at school!

My 5-year-old is SO excited to ride the big yellow school bus. To be honest, that is the thing I stress the most about but I would NEVER tell him that! Validate your child's feelings and talk about it together. You, as the busy mom, have to hold it together and be excited for that first day, no matter how much you want to cry. Wait for that bus to drive away! (And please know I'm writing this more for me than for you).

Are you looking for more books to get your children excited about reading?! Click here for a list of 10 books to inspire a love of reading!