Tomorrow, my son will be starting first grade in a new school. He says he’s nervous. I told him, so am I. He was surprised I said this and asked me why? I said that I always feel butterflies on the first day back to school. But that it was more of a nervous excitement. Sometimes, I told him, excitement feels close to being nervous. He didn’t say much else after that, thinking about what I said. I’m hoping I changed his perception of the first day jitters…if even just a smidge.
At home, we pulled out our favorite (and well worn) back-to-school book, a Charlie and Lola classic, I am Too Absolutely Small for School. I like to read it with a British accent which gets the little guy giggling. There’s something about this book’s humor and wit that quells the nerves. Author Lauren Child is brilliant! Charlie has to convince Lola to give school a chance. Lola makes her points, like by saying “I don’t need to learn up to one hundred. I already know up to ten, and that is plenty”. Ever-patient Charlie works his magic, and persuades Lola that school is worthwhile. This book is lighthearted and I love that it doesn’t pander to a child’s anxiety, but instead changes their way of thinking. It’s re-affirming without being too sentimental. And with it’s ingenious ending, it literally made my son want to wake up the next the morning and go straight to school!
Here is a list of our other favorites for this year:
How I Spent my Summer Vacation / Mark Teague: A boy takes his teacher and fellow students on a Wild West adventure when he gives his school report on how he spent his summer vacation. We love that it rhymes!
Chrysanthemum/ Kevin Henkes: With her hard-to-pronounce name, Chrysanthemum gets teased at school. Until she meets the new music teacher, who is named Delphinium. We love the way this expressive book, with its charming illustrations, shines a light on the affects of a loving teachers. Teachers rock!
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World / Susan Hughes: In this book, readers will travel to dozens of countries to visit some incredible schools. Through personal interviews, we get to meet the students who attend them. Their stories aren’t just inspiring — they’ll also get kids to think about school and the world in a whole new way. All three of my kids are fascinated by this book. It’s a great way for us to talk about our differences, and of how grateful we are for what we have!
Kindergarten Kids / Stephanie Calmenson: This book of rhymes and riddles is so fun and celebratory, my son wanted me to read it to him twice! It really makes them feel that Kindergarten (and first grade, too!) is a special place. Reading this book will but a smile on your face and theirs, and it’s a great way to introduce them to poetry!
Wish me luck as I wave to my baby getting on the bus for the first time. We’ll both be brave.