These four stories take the stress out of school for early elementary school students. From first-day worries to doubts about the next school year and test anxiety, the topics are covered in fresh and humorous ways. Hyewon Yum’s Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! turns the usual first-day-of-school anxiety story on its head. Breezy [...]
Bailey by Harry Bliss; illus. by the author Primary Scholastic 32 pp. 8/11 978-0-545-23344-6 $16.99 Bailey loves school, where he is by far the most popular student. Then again, he is the only dog at Champlain Elementary School. No one can resist a dog who hangs his head out the school bus window, willing the [...]
Marianthe’s Story: Painted Words / Spoken Memories written and illustrated by Aliki
The story of a young immigrant girl from an unnamed country is told in a pair of back-to-back picture books. The first describes Marianthe’s adjustment to her American school; the second (arrived at by flipping the book over) allows the girl to tell her own story of why she and her mother came to this country. Aliki’s drawings are warm and expansive, giving heart to the somewhat purposive text. Grade level: K–3.
Ramona the Pest written by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Lois Darling
Eight- or nine-year-olds who can look back upon their kindergarten days will smile knowingly at Ramona’s first encounters with school life. Ramona does not submit to the process of education without a struggle, and the skirmishes, vividly described, will remind the young reader of the child he once was (or wished he had dared to be!). The author has a sure instinct for the thought and expression of five-year-olds. Grade level: K–3.
Although I love to write about books, I am a teacher, not a writer. My favorite writers create worlds out of their imaginations; what I try to create, every August, is a new community of children, one I hope will be strong enough to make it through the school year. Secretly, I have another hope: I hope the children will remember second grade as one of their best years. I hope they will remember me the way I remember my teachers — those from my childhood and those who come alive in the books I love.
Each year, right before school starts, I organize my classroom library, pulling out the chapter books I like to read to the class during the year and finding the picture books I use during the crucial first weeks when my students and I are settling in. What kinds of books am I drawn to? My favorites are books about school. You would think I would be sick of them, especially since some are schlocky and idealistic — impossible to live up to — but you would be wrong. Books about school give me some common ground with my class to talk about my expectations for the year. Though fictional, the teachers in these books inform my teaching every day.