Books and Ideas to Prepare for Starting Nursery

Starting preschool or nursery is a huge transition for little ones and their parents. It might be the first time you’ve left your little one with anyone other than family so it’s only natural that everyone involved might be a little anxious or worried.

To try and help with those worries we’ve compiled a list of practical things and books you could use to help prepare your child (and yourself) for starting nursery.

Books and Ideas to Prepare for Starting Nursery

*Please note* This list is purely based on our own experiences of preparing for nursery, it is by no means prescriptive and we suggest that you follow the advice given to you by your child’s educational setting and discuss any worries you have with them.

Talking about and familiarising yourself and your child with their nursery

Perhaps you will have had some time to visit your child’s nursery with them before they start and maybe they’ve stayed for some transition days. We have used this experience to help us keep talking about nursery, the things we saw there, the toys we played with and the adults who will be there. If we’re walking or driving past the nursery we point it out and talk about it then too. Some schools and nurseries have photos of their staff on their websites so it could be a good idea to look at these from time to time so your child will recognise them.

Reading books about going to nursery are a great way to help familiarise your child with the routines and things they might do when they’re there. Here are a couple we like:
Alfie at Nursery School by Shirley Hughes

Alfie at Nursery School by Shirley Hughes, published by Red Fox.

Alfie has started going to nursery and there are lots of new things to do and discover. One part of this book which stands out is when a couple of children try to divide the class and say who can play where. Alfie and his friend Bernard pay them no attention and carry on playing together and the divide is soon broken. This could be a useful example to come back to to help talk about friendships.

A beautiful collection of stories delivered in Shirley Hughes’s calm and welcoming style which are sure to help ease any worries.

The playground in Alfie at Nursery School by Shirley Hughes

I'm Starting Nursery Marion Cocklico Campbell Books
I’m Starting Nursery by Marion Cocklico, published by Campbell Books

From the Big Steps series this book sees Ben feeling sad after his dad leaves him at nursery but he soon finds lots of things to do and other children to play with.

With bright and colourful illustrations and lots of flaps and mechanisms for little hands as well as tips and information for grown ups, this is a great book to help everyone involved in taking the big step to nursery. It’s also endorsed by Early Years Consultant Dr Amanda Gummer.

Turn taking and Sharing

I’ve always found that sharing is something that young children find very difficult, to understand and to do. One thing I’ve tried to with my children is encourage them to learn how to take turns. Sometimes we do this in a more structured way using board games or just when playing with toys.

Busy Farm Lift the Flap book

I have two children who still enjoy being read to and I often use this time to help them both practice turn taking. Any books that have flaps to lift are perfect for this and I have found that they both quickly became experts at knowing whose turn it was!

What the Ladybird Heard Julia Donaldson Lydia Monks sound book

Noisy books with buttons to press are also great for turn taking; sometimes they take it in turns as we turn each page or they might let each other have their turn for the whole story and then swap when we read it again.

You could of course just take turns at turning the page in any book and If I’m just reading to one of my children then I take turns with them.

Saying please and thank you

Skills for starting school DK Books Please and Thank you Sharing

Please and Thank You & Sharing is Caring from DK Books are a great way to introduce basic manners and friendship rules to little ones. A cuddly group of friends navigate different social situations and try to figure out what is going wrong and how to fix it. The books ask the reader lots of questions about what the friends should have done and so offer lots of opportunities for you to talk to your little one about good manners.

Please and thank you DK Books skills for starting school

I’ve found that modelling good manners works well so I often say the sentence I want my child to learn to say and have them repeat it. When that fails you can always resort to asking them “pardon?” many times over until they get the message that they’ve forgotten to say please!

Role play and small world

We have started introducing nursery in our play at home either through role playing or with small world toys. Here’s a small world one we set up but we have also pretend played nursery which didn’t need to involve any toys or time to set up.


Encouraging independence

I find it really hard to encourage my children to do things for themselves, mainly because it takes a lot of time and patience, it’s just quicker to get things done when you do things for them! But, of course, it isn’t helping them learn so I do try to make the time to let them try and learn to do things on their own; putting shoes on, finding their own things, spreading something on toast and the big one of course – learning to use the toilet.

No More Nappies Marion Cocklico Campbell Books

There are lots of gorgeous books available to help children learn about using the potty or the toilet. No More Nappies by Marion Cocklico, published by Campbell Books follows two children as they try to learn how to move on from nappies. Another beautiful book from the Big Steps series that has been endorsed by Early Years Consultant Dr Amanda Gummer. With colourful illustrations and lots of flaps and mechanisms to use, not to mention all the toilet talk. this is a really appealing book for little ones and has lots of helpful hints and tips to help guide grown ups too.

What have you been doing/did you do to help your little ones get ready for nursery? Let us know in the comments below.

Many thanks to DK Books for sending a copy of Sharing is Caring and Please and Thank You for review.

This post contains affiliate links that won’t change the way you shop but might make us a little bit of money… that we will probably spend on more books.

10 thoughts on “Books and Ideas to Prepare for Starting Nursery

Add yours

  1. Some great ideas here and a great selection of books too! I haven’t decided whether to send my second child to preschool next year yet but if I do I’ll be reading this post to give me ideas on how to prepare him.


  2. It is a big step and I think we all need help to get over the initial transition. These books are great for preparing and helping us to get ready for the changes we all feel. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time. Mainy


  3. I adore the Julia Donaldson books! My other two have been bought up on them and the new ones G is getting his first taste of recently! Great collection and thank you so much for sharing #KCACOLS


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