As summer draws to a close, thoughts turn to the coming school year. For some children this can be an exciting and somewhat stressful time. There are many books that deal with starting school and all the emotions surrounding that experience. This month I have highlighted some of my favorites.
Mouse’s First Day of School
By Lauren Thompson
Illustrated by Buket Erdogan
$13.99 Simon and Schuster
This gentle, simple story is perfect for the child starting preschool or daycare. Mouse’s First Day of School tells how Mouse, a stowaway in a child’s backpack, is introduced to the wonders of school including “colors to paint with, letters to spell with, and friends to play with.” Simple, colorful pastel illustrations coupled with appealing, catchy text make this a great way to introduce your youngest children to the adventures of school.
The Kissing Hand
By Audrey Penn
Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
$16.95 Tanglewood Press
The Kissing Hand is, without a doubt, the sweetest book to give any little person starting preschool or kindergarten. Audrey Penn’s charmingly illustrated story is about Chester the raccoon and his worries about starting school. Chester wants to play with his friends, read his books and swing on his swing—instead of going to the forest school. He asks his mother, “Please, may I stay home with you?” His mother reassures him with the family secret of the kissing hand. When she lovingly kisses his palm, “Chester feels his mother’s kiss rush from his hand, up his arm and into his heart.” This loving feeling stays with him throughout his school day and helps ease his fears—and the fears of young readers of this childhood classic. The book also comes with heart stickers that parents can place in the hand of their young one to remind her that she is loved and treasured all day long.
First Day Jitters
By Julie Donneburg
Illustrated by Judith Dufour Love
First Day Jitters is a delightful and fun book for kids starting kindergarten, first grade or a new school. The story opens with Mr. Hartwell asking Sarah who is hiding under her covers, “You don’t want to miss the first day of school, do you?” Sarah refuses to get out of bed. Colorful, detailed illustrations accompany Mr. Hartwell’s assurances that she will enjoy her new school as much as she enjoyed her old one. Her “imaginary scenes” of boys pulling pigtails and paper airplanes flying will induce giggles and prompt discussion. Eventually, Mr. Hartwell convinces her to get out of bed, eat breakfast and go to her new school. Children, young and old, will enjoy coming to the realization (as Sarah is introduced to the new class by the principal) that she is not a student but the new teacher, Mrs. Hartwell. First Day Jitters will have kids laughing and feeling that they are not alone when they see that grownups can have first day jitters too.
The Worst-Case Scenario
Survival Handbook: Middle School
By Robin Epstein and Ben H. Winters
$10.99 Chronicle Books
It is no secret that middle school is a time of change—both welcome and unwelcome. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School is a good way to help the middle schooler in your life approach his or her new school situation with a little less hesitation and a lot more humor. Epstein and Winters fill their guide with practical advice regarding organization, study skills and social situations as well as hilarious tongue-in-cheek instructions such as how to dance the “lawn mower, running man and funky chicken.” This book is a neat way to “prepare” your child for his first days of middle school.
A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles
By Patti Kelley Criswell and Angela Martini
$9.95 American Girl Publishing
As the mother of tween-age girls, I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of middle school for girls is other girls. American Girl does an excellent job of addressing the issues of “fights, being left out and the whole popularity thing.” A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles makes girls think about what it means to be a true friend and gives advice on how to deal with bullies, as well as how to recognize when their behavior is unkind and unfair. Friendship gets complicated for girls in middle school. A guide that both acknowledges this fact and offers practical advice can be both helpful and appreciated.