Tag Archives: back to school

Back to School!

by Katrina Morse
for Family Reading Partnership

Get ready for school! New routines, new friends, and new challenges are part of the school year ahead. Is your child starting a new school or moving up a grade and joining a new classroom? Ease any first-day-of-school jitters by reading stories about what school might by like and talking about your child’s feelings.

The characters in books often have the same feelings that your child may have, so reading a book together can give you and your child ideas and the words to talk about and overcome any worries.

Sharing any book with your child also adds to their personal sense of security. Sitting together and giving your attention to your child as you read aloud shows them that you support them, care for them, and love them. It helps your child feel confident enough to try new things, which they will be doing all school year long.

Here are some books to read before the big first day:

“On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Laura Hughes. Count all the fun first days of kindergarten, starting right on day one. You will see how many exciting things happen in school, like making new friends, painting, running a race, and counting. Upbeat and engaging with a diverse classroom of children depicted in the illustrations.

“The Pigeon HAS to Go to School” by Mo Willems. Pigeon cannot believe he has to start school. He already knows everything and doesn’t want to make new friends. What is school about anyway? He just doesn’t want to go! If your child already loves Mo Willems’ books, this is going to be another winner in your family. If you have yet to meet Pigeon–and Elephant and Piggie–in other Willems’ books, you are in for a treat, and some laughs! Pigeon has many of the same fears as any child about going to school, but your child can giggle at Pigeon’s overblow reactions.

“Monsters Love School,” by Mike Austin. A little monster named Blue is anxious and worried about going to school. He wonders, “What do you eat at school? What do you learn? What about friends?” Adults and teachers are reassuring at every turn during Blue’s first school day. From the art teacher, to the school lunch worker, to the gym teacher he hears the same messages, “School is for trying new things. You’ll meet new friends. You’ll like school!” Told with humor and light-heartedness, this story will be a comfort to a Pre-K or kindergarten child before their first day at a new school.

“Planet Kindergarten” by Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Shane Prigmore. Put on your helmet and get ready to blast off to a classroom. This story creates an outer space adventure of going to school. Starting with a flight plan for the journey, school as a space capsule, and fellow students as the crew, the playful story reveals that the main astronaut is a bit worried about the trip. Cute and clever, the story ends with the young space-goer back on his original planet with a splashdown (in the bathtub) in the comfort of his own home.

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Filed under back to school, benefits of reading together, family reading, Feelings, Mo Willems, opportunities for conversation

Back to School Books Ease the Transition

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

We expect a lot of our young children. After the huge tasks of learning to walk and talk we expect them to learn to share and be civil in public! Going to school may be the first time a child’s communication and negotiating skills are put to the test. This is the beginning of learning how talk about feelings. Children start to realize that other people have other points of view, and they must learn to compromise. As adults, we know how important these skills are for successful relationships at home and at work.

Additionally, your child is learning to be independent. This may cause some anxiety at first, for both the parent and the child. It’s a big world out there! Your child will be comforted by the predictability of being home after a day at school. Talk about school and what to expect. Be a good listener and hug with abundance. Your child is growing up!

Try some of these books to help ease the transition to pre-school or kindergarten and provide a way to talk about feelings.

“Kindergarten Countdown” by Anna Jane Hays, illustrated by Linda Davick. This book can be read over and over even after the first day of school. The author counts from seven down to zero, names the days of the week, and weaves in the alphabet and colors as a child waits for school to begin. The rhyming text is happy, playful, and bouncy. Illustrations are clean edged, computer generated images with big areas of solid colors and patterns.

“Don’t Go!” written and illustrated by Jan Breskin Zalben. Daniel is a bit tearful as he waves good-bye to his mother on the first day of school, but he has so much fun during the day that he forgets to be sad. This is a realistic look at separation with ideas interspersed in the story about how to make the transition easier. The illustrations of animal characters at school give many opportunities to talk about your own child’s pre-school experience. A Pumpkin Vanilla-Chip Cookie recipe included.

“Chicken Chickens Go to School” by Valeri Gorbachev. With illustrations reminiscent of Richard Scarry, the author/illustrator uses animal characters to tell a story about the first day of school for two little chickens. They try to make friends all day, but feel that they are being ignored and are discouraged until their fellow students pull together to help the chicks cross a stream at recess. This is a heartwarming story and introduction to school.

“Off to Kindergarten” by Tony Johnson, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. A boy gathers all the things he will need for kindergarten, like his stuffed bear, some cookies, a toy truck, his swing and sandbox… and more and more. He realizes he’ll need a moving truck to get all the items to school, until his mother tells him that all he needs to bring to school is himself!

“This is Our House” by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Bob Graham. As a natural part of their emotional development, young children are self-centered. Remember the “Mine! Mine!” phase? This story is all about learning the difficult task (for a pre-schooler) of sharing. George makes a house out of a box at pre-school and learns to share it with all his classmates.

“The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn. Young Chester raccoon is worried about leaving home to go to school. Mama raccoon gives her son a very special gift to keep him feeling loved the entire school day.

The “Miss Bindergarten” series of books is about–you guessed it, kindergarten! Miss Bindergarten is a Border Collie who teaches a class of animals from A to Z. These are wonderful books for a 5 year old, with so many things to look at. As the children in the class drop things, spill, hug, cry and laugh, Miss Bindergarten remains unflappable.

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Kindergarten, Here We Come!




By Elizabeth Stilwell, Early Childhood Specialist, Family Reading Partnership

It’s hard to imagine, but 3.7 million five year olds (and their families!) are starting kindergarten this school year in the US. Locally there are more than 1,000 children starting school in Tompkins County, NY. Many of these young children have attended a childcare or preschool program, but going to kindergarten is a big transition. Riding the bus, entering a big school building, and managing many transitions throughout the day are new experiences for most children. Helping your child know what to expect before they cross the threshold can help pave the way for a smooth start. But how can you do it, especially when your own heart is pounding in your chest?

Reading picture books about starting school can create opportunities for children to discuss their worries, and talk about all the wonderful new things they are about to experience. Encouraging your child to ask questions and talk about their expectations will offer opportunities for you to calm their fears and help them look forward to this new adventure.

Here are some wonderful books to help you get the conversation started:

  • “First Day” by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. This fun picture book gives children the opportunity to encourage their fretting parents and remind them that change can be a good thing!
  • “Starting School,” by Jane Godwin, covers new routines, new people, and new surroundings in a way that is positive and inclusive, helping children to see that they aren’t so different from the other kids who are starting at school.
  • “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Anna Walker. This little book captures the excitement and anticipation of the first day of school. Details about how kids pack up their school supplies, lay out clothes, and then bound off to school the next morning are right on target!
  • “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This book shows how a teacher gets her classroom ready to welcome her new kindergarten students. All of the characters are animals…but that doesn’t seem to bother children at all, in fact they love the whimsical feel of the book.

So why not plan a trip to your local library and check out their collection of books on starting school? You might find that reading these books together will help calm your own worries along with your child’s!

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Welcome Back to School!

Going back to school is an exciting and happy time of year for children, with friends to make, a new teacher to meet, and a classroom to explore. But, there can be anxiety, too. Different schedules, feelings, and expectations can give a child butterflies and even create some queasiness for parents. We all want our children to do well and adjust quickly.

To keep your family positive and ease any trepidation about starting a new school year, establish a few daily routines so there are at least some things to count on that aren’t new every day. Keep your child’s morning “get-up and get off to school” routine the same each day, so everyone knows what to expect. Do a quiet activity or snack every day when your child comes home as a way to transition from school. Keep your child’s bedtime the same time each night so your child is well-rested for the next day at school.

And, of course, build in some read aloud with your child. Even after he or she learns how to read independently, snuggling up with a parent and hearing a book read aloud reassures your child that some things don’t have to change. Quality time together is still part of everyday family life.

Older children can listen to chapter books read aloud and will learn new vocabulary and ideas hearing you read. Younger children listening to you read picture books will learn words and ideas too, and can come to understand their feelings and how to handle new situations that arise at school.

Reading any books together is comforting, but here are some books especially about the elementary school experience that open up discussions for you to have with your child. Laugh, talk, and learn together!

“The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School” by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery. In this book the gingerbread man chases after the school children instead of the other way around. He just wants to join in the fun, but can’t quite keep up! He enlists the help of all the grown-ups at the school and finally does meet up with the children, after touring the whole building.

“How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?” by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague. Huge, colorful dinosaurs innocently create havoc as they start a new school year. The rhyming text has a rhythm that keeps the story going as the dinosaurs learn what kind of behavior is appropriate at school. As they get used to school, they share, are polite, and even keep things picked up.

ItsHardtoBe5“It’s Hard to Be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel” by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell. This is another winner by this writer/illustrator team. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis writes with humor and honesty at a level that children embrace. It really is hard to be five-years-old. The book describes how the days of being little are gone, but you still haven’t practiced a lot of self-control. Thank goodness that we each have a “control panel” that we can learn how to use!

“The Incredible Book Eating Boy” written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. This is not a typical “back to school” book, but has just that kind of humor a kindergartner will enjoy. When a boy develops a habit of eating books, yes, actually taking bites and swallowing books, the words get all jumbled in his stomach (and brain). He finally learns he can “digest” a book much better just by reading it. The illustrations are collaged type written words, images, and drawings.


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It’s That Time Again: Welcome Back to School!

Sharpen your pencils and adjust your backpack straps; it’s almost time to start another school year! Is your child excited or nervous to step into a new classroom?  Does he feel prepared or overwhelmed with what is to come? Reading a book about the first day of school could help ease the jitters and give your child the confidence to walk into school ready to take on new challenges and adjust to new surroundings and classmates.

The internet is a wonderful resource for finding just the right book for you and your child to read together. There are humorous stories about what could happen at school and purely informational stories about what to expect in kindergarten. There are books for starting pre-school and books for coping with middle school. And then there are books that just making learning more fun.

Searching for “best children’s books about starting school” online, the top lists that I found were from: about.com, apples4theteacher.com, bankstreet.edu, barnesandnoble.com, and parents-choice.org.

Here are some of suggestions from the “experts” about what to read before that first day.


Books about what you do at school: “Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson, “Kindergarten Rocks” by Katie Davis, “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wind, illustrated by Julie Durrel, and “D.W.’s Guide to Pre-School” by Marc Brown.

Books about the kids you meet at school: “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Kenkes, “Splat the Cat” by Rob Scotton, and “Yoko” and the “Kindergators” series by Rosemary Wells.


Books that make learning fun: “Rocket Writes a Story” by Tad Hills, “Library Mouse” by Daniel Kirk, “Bugs by the Numbers” by Sharon Werner, illustrated by Sarah Forss, and “The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites.”

Books about separation anxiety: “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn, “Llama Llama Misses Mama” by Anna Dewdney, and “Oh My Baby, Little One” by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer.

Humorous books about school: “A Fine, Fine, School” by Sharon Creech and Harry Bliss, “There’s a Zoo in Room 22” by Judy Sierra and Barney Saltzberg, and “Baloney” by John Scieszka and Lane Smith.

Whatever books you end up reading with your child, the most important thing is that you are spending quality time together so your child feels loved and supported as he or she embarks on the great adventure of a new school year.

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How to Think Like a Child

The best children’s book authors can really think like a child. They tell a story from a child’s point of view and explain things that a child may not understand. They alleviate fears, confirm feelings, and teach new ideas. Here are some books by authors who validate what a child is experiencing:


When a child starts kindergarten there is some nervousness about all the unknowns. “What happens if you spill your milk?  Are there mean people at school? How will I get lunch? What if I get lost?” In “Kindergarten Rocks!” by Katie Davis, Dexter’s sister, Jessie, who is really old now (in 3rd grade), reassures her brother Dexter that everything will be ok. Dexter takes along his stuffed dog, Rufus, for comfort and finds out that school is fun! The author describes kindergarten activities including art time, play, dress-up, listening to books, the play-dough table, and writing. The book’s illustrations are rendered in crayon, which adds a child-like quality to the story.

When your family is expecting a new baby, your child will have lots of questions. “What Is He Doing Now?” by Patti Farmer and Janet Wilson nicely describes events during a pregnancy from the point of view of a little boy waiting to meet his brother or sister.  Illustrations are realistic but loosely done in watercolor and colored pencil. The boy wonders: Is the new baby growing in mommy’s tummy? How is the baby breathing in there? How does he eat? What will he do when he is born? This book gives plenty of opportunity to talk about how your child feels about a new sibling.

For the very young child, “Little Chicken’s Big Day” by Katie Davis and Jerry Davis is a simple book about what it’s like to be little. “I hear you cluckin’ big chicken,” says the little chick. But just like any two-year old, this little guy is easily distracted wanders off to chase a butterfly. Now where did big chicken go? Little chick can’t find his mama at first, but there is a happy ending. Illustrations of the mother and child chickens are bold yellow images outlined in black.


“Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day,” by Jamie Lee Curtis, with pictures by Laura Cornell illustrates how many emotions a child can experience, including silly, grumpy, angry, joyful, quiet, confused, cranky, and lonely. Children will see that all of these emotions and the different shades of feelings are ones they may experience at times and are normal. This is a playful book with rhyming text and whimsical illustrations.

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by | August 15, 2013 · 2:51 pm