This was for kids entering grades 1 through 5, and the books I picked were PERFECT (if I do say so myself). I read two of them: Frankie Stein Starts School by Lola M. Schaefer (a story about fitting in but from a cool, kind of gothy, monster perspective) and Jake Starts School by Michael Wright (a story about first day jitters with super funky illustrations and, BONUS!, it also includes a fart).
The kids seriously loved both books. They didn't even try acting bored to be cool (which at least a few kids usually do in this age group), but fully embraced the storytime! It was awesome.
Then we moved on to the craft: decorating canvas backpacks (these, from Oriental Trading) with fabric markers. Simple, no frills, and a crowd-pleaser!
Here are a few of the finished products:
What worked least: Nothin'. This was easy to do, easy to set-up, and the kids genuinely had a great time! I always worry that I'm going to have lots of clothing disasters when I use fabric markers, but with a steady record of firm, pre-craft warnings under my belt, so far so good. Hopefully I didn't just jinx it!
What worked best: Again, this program was so simple that there weren't a ton of elements that could go wrong. The books worked and the craft worked! A+ for Back(packs) to School!