Perhaps it was only ever a fantasy of mine that every child in America started the school year on the same day I always did (the Tuesday after Labor Day) but now, all over the map, it’s all over the map. And for those unfortunates who attend “year-round school” — do they still get a First Day? It seems a shame to forgo that rite of passage, however fraught with anxiety and loaded with good intentions it always seemed to be. The school stories recommended below offer solace, empathy, and pranking advice for negotiating not just that First Day but the 180-or-so that follow. In On Learning to Read, Bruno Bettelheim proposed that reading about school (and reading about reading) was the surest path to educational success, but for me the value in school stories lies in the respect they give to the importance of this formidable arena of child society. Playground, my foot.
Editor in Chief
From the August 2016 issue of What Makes a Good…?: “What Makes a Good School Story?” For more recommended school stories, see “From the Guide: First-Day-of-School Picture Books” from the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.