Q: My daughter is starting school in a few days...what books about school do you have that we could read together?
A: We have so many!* No matter what age or grade, we've got something for you to read about school, to set the stage so that your child's anticipation is more likely to stay positive. Some kids need to know exactly what will happen, some are looking forward to joining the world of their older siblings, and some have worries or anxieties. Thankfully, authors & publishers have recognized the recurring need, and we have plenty of books to fill it.*
Reading a book or two about the school experience gives you an opportunity to talk about it together. With so many books at the Oakland Public Library to choose from, you may want to narrow it down to the right age-level for your child/children. That makes the search a little trickier, but here are some book lists for different age-ranges. You can click on the age you want, below, or talk to your local children's librarian to get favorites.
Llama Llama misses Mama by Dewdney // Maisy goes to preschool by Cousins // See you later, alligator! by Kvasnosky // My preschool by Rockwell // Making friends by Fred Rogers
Vera's first day of school (Rosenberry) // Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner (Schwartz) // The kissing hand (Penn) // Miss Bindergarten gets ready for kindergarten (Slate) // My kindergarten (Wells) // Look out kindergarten, here I come! = Prepárate, kindergarten! Allá voy! (Carlson) // How to be a friend : a guide to making friends and keeping them (Krasny & Brown)
First day jitters (Danneberg) // It's back to school we go : first day stories from around the world (Jackson) // Feelings (Aliki) // Judy Moody (McDonald) // Monster School : first day frights (Keane)
A smart girl's guide to starting middle school : everything you need to know about juggling more homework, more teachers, and more friends! (Williams) // Too old for this, too young for that! : your survival guide for the middle school years (Mosatche) // The middle school survival guide (Erlbach) // Amelia's school survival guide (Moss) // Dork diaries series (Russell) // Middle school, the worst years of my life (Patterson) // Stuck in the middle of middle school : a novel in doodles (Young)
Usually when parents or kids ask for books about school, it’s simply to celebrate or take a moment to focus on the occasion. Sometimes, however, it’s because they’ve got some anxieties about it. Like any life transition, starting school can bring up some pretty big issues for a person. Helping your child understand her thoughts and feelings -- and explore the thoughts and feelings of others -- helps her grow and understand. Reading books together gives you a way to start a conversation and find out how you can support your child.
Children each have their own point of view, and their own inner thoughts to sift through. The themes within back-to-school stories often include important life lessons about some or all of the following:
- Being a friend
- Getting along with new people
- Accepting differences
- Mending relationships with difficult people
- Protecting yourself from dangerous people
- Calming general anxiety
- Conquering specific fears
- Facing new situations
- Accepting separation from loved ones
- Celebrating accomplishments (your own & others')
- Being ready for and open to learning
Even if the book you read together doesn’t match your own thoughts and feelings, it could spark a discussion that helps clarify your observations, or helps your child relate to the other students she meets. As usual, I encourage everyone to make time to talk to and listen to your child.
* NOTE: We do have many books about starting school – but given the fact that Oakland is home to almost 16,000 children ages 3 to 5, and about 47,200 students are enrolled in the Oakland Unified School District, we may not have the book you want on the day you want it. You can place a hold on the title you want by clicking the “Request It” button and using your library barcode and pin number; or, let us help you place a hold!
In the Comments below, please leave us the title of a back-to-school book you especially enjoyed, including the age of the student. We want to share what you like best!