Fall is a big transition time for many young families. That continues to be true even as the kids grow up and begin to leave the nest. In my house this week alone…my husband heads back to work as a teacher, my middle son flies to Montana to start college, and my youngest son starts high school! I remember enjoying books about going to school with my kids when they were in preschool and kindergarten, and although books can’t solve all problems, they can certainly help. These books use sensitivity and humor to help soothe young kids’ anxieties about heading to school for the first time or heading back to school after a long summer break.
One of my favorites is First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. Sarah Hartwell has a lot of the usual nervousness about starting at a new school. She pulls the covers back over her head, complains of a headache, and doesn’t want to get out of the car, but there’s a twist at the end of the book that will delight both parents and kids.
The Last Day of Kindergarten by Nancy Loewen celebrates, of course, the last day of kindergarten, but also takes a look back on some of the joys and fun of the year, offering young readers an exciting look at what they might expect. “Today is the last day of kindergarten,” reminisces the young girl. “I wish it were the first.” And then she recounts what a great year it has been. The story ends with an exciting kindergarten graduation ceremony.
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child features Charlie and Lola in one of their very best brother-sister stories. Lola comes up with every possible excuse for not wanting to go to school, including “being extremely busy doing important things at home” to “I absolutely will not ever wear a schooliform.” Charlie counters with his most creative big-brother arguments, making for a sweet and laugh-out-loud funny repartee. Child’s delightful illustrations are bright, bold and colorful, with a variety of perspectives, patterns and styles.
In This School Year Will Be the Best by Kay Winters, the teacher asks the kids at circle time on the first day of school to make a wish for the year. The wishes range from practical--“I hope I won’t be a vegetable in our school play” to fantastical--a chocolate fountain at lunch and taking a field trip to an anti-gravity chamber where everyone floats around in spacesuits. The joyfully silly illustrations add a lot to this fun picture book.
In Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton, Splat lays in bed with his tail “wiggling wildly with worry” on the morning of his first day at Cat School. Splat offers his mom all sorts of reasons why it’s not a good idea to go to school, but finally, accompanied by his pet mouse Seymour, he winds up in Mrs. Wimpydimple’s fun classroom. Pet mouse Seymour has an adventure and Splat learns that cats are “clever, cunning, quick and amazing!” On the second day of school, he lays in bed with his tail wiggling, not from worry, but from excitement!
Stop by the Youth Services Department at Niles Public Library, and check out the display of back-to-school books for you to share with your kids.