Library First Day of School Review Roundup by Brittney Uecker

Well, folks, it is happening – by the time you read this, my daughter will have officially started kindergarten. There is a part of me that is wrapped in the sentimental emotions of this major milestone of parenthood – it seems like just yesterday; my little girl was a baby obsessed with blueberries and Sesame Street and just learning to walk. These days she still loves blueberries but has graduated to Goosebumps and learning to ride a bike. The old trope is true – it really does go by so fast. Still, I am more happy than sad. My daughter thrives in routine, is insanely creative, and craves knowledge about the world around her – I know she is more than ready for school.

The perfect way to ease any transition is with a good book. Here is a roundup of several picture books about starting school for you to share with your kiddos as they become students:

  • “School’s First Day of School” by Adam Rex is a charming story of the first day of school from the perspective of the school building itself. As students start to multiply at the newly-built Fredrick Douglas Elementary, the school is as apprehensive as its students – it is embarrassed by its fire alarm, overwhelmed with the lunchtime mess, and self-conscious as the students experience first-day jitters. But as the students learn about shapes and make crayon drawings of the school, everyone’s trepidations are relieved, and both the students and the school can’t wait for everyone to come back tomorrow.
  • Two books, “Mr.Ouchy’s First Day” by B.G. Hennessy and “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg, describe the first day of school from the teachers’ point of view. These stories exemplify how teachers often feel the same anxiety as students, but that with their help, everyone is excited about the new year ahead.
  • If you have a younger child starting school with an older sibling, try “It’s MY School” by Sally Grindley. In this story, Tom is reluctant for his baby sister, Alice, to start kindergarten at his school, afraid she will embarrass him or take attention away from him. However, when Alice needs him to stand up for her when someone takes her beloved teddy bear, Tom realizes the importance of his role as a big brother.
  • “Don’t Go” by Jane Breskin Zalban tackles the topic of drop-off anxiety. Like many new students, Daniel doesn’t want to leave his mama, lamenting, “Don’t go!”. The book goes through a play-by-play of the school day, easing the worries of students by letting them know exactly what to expect. This story exemplifies how the tools of easing in, distraction, and preparation can ease anxieties for both parents and kids.
  • Both Serge Bloch’s “Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards” and “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins inject a good dose of humor. Bloch’s book utilizes a menagerie of clever idioms to follow a nervous boy through his first day, with mixed-media illustrations that bring the literal forms of these phrases to life – my favorite was the swiss cheese dress of the principal, or “Big Cheese”. In Higgins’ book, a tyrannosaurus rex named Penelope has trouble making friends with the humans at her new school because she can’t stop eating them (and promptly spitting them back out). However, when the class pet goldfish bites her finger, she learns the value of empathy and how to treat her fellow classmates with kindness. 

I wish all of you LPL patrons the best of luck with the school year – may your backpacks, your carpools, and your hearts be full and happy with new adventures.

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