Staff Picks: Back to School!
With summer winding down, our patrons are now looking for terrific back-to-school stories. Warrenton Youth Services shares their favorites school tales:
My favorite chicken, Minerva Louise, is going to school, although she doesn’t have a clue! As usual, Minerva Louise interprets things in the context of her own familiar world, exactly as a child entering school for the first time would do. She loves the nesting boxes (cubbies); one even has an egg (baseball) in it! Preschoolers love the silliness of this very silly chicken and feel so smart that they know the wooden blocks are not really a pig pen. Listeners might even realize they know a little more about what school is going to be like than they thought they did!
Kevin Henkes’ Owen also has adjustments to make as he heads off to school for the first time. His fuzzy yellow blanket goes everywhere and does everything with him but will not be allowed at school. Nosy Mrs. Tweezers, who lives next door, has many helpful suggestions for Owen’s parents including the Blanket Fairy, the vinegar trick and just saying no. Owen’s mother has a positively perfect idea that satisfies everyone, even Mrs. Tweezers!
∼Nancy, Youth Services Assistant
Dad’s tummy doesn’t feel so good on the very first day of school. Although it’s son Oliver who must enter his first classroom, it’s Dad who is having a problem with the idea. Oliver’s dad tries to postpone the inevitable by hiding and crying. He has to be carried away, bodily, by the teacher. Dad’s First Day plays role reversal for an amusing tale about a new normal, and about how much easier the transition is once everyone realizes that school can be an engaging, happy place.
Want to get in the mood for another school year? One good way is to visit Wayside School in the Wayside School series by Louis Sachar. Wayside was accidentally built sideways with one classroom on each story. So begins the wackiness of a school with equally wacky characters.
Wayside books are written as short stories so that each chapter can stand alone. That makes them a good choice for reluctant readers, and a good read aloud promising lots of chuckles. You’ll get to know Todd, who can only read upside down; Paul, whose life was saved by Leslie’s pigtails; Sharie who is allowed to fall asleep in class because the teacher thinks she learns best that way; a yellow ball that will never go where it’s kicked; and an orange named Fido, among others.
∼Becca, Youth Services Assistant
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is a lovely book to share with a young child anxious about starting school or daycare. The illustrations include sweet woodland animals and settings.
Chester raccoon is reluctant to go to school and leave his mother behind. Mother Raccoon has a secret to share with her son. “I learned it from my mother, and she learned it from hers. It’s called the Kissing Hand.” “The Kissing Hand? What’s that?” asked Chester. “I’ll show you.” Mrs. Raccoon took Chester’s left hand and spread open his tiny fingers into a fan. Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm. Chester felt his mother’s kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart. Even his silky, black mask tingled with a special warmth. Hundreds of preschool and kindergarten teachers have recommended “The Kissing Hand” to parents of young children.
∼Ellen, Youth Services Assistant
I love stories set in different countries, which is why Rain School by James Runford is one of my favorite school stories! Runford’s story about a classroom of children who literally build their own schoolhouse and desks from mud is eye-opening and inspiring, as is their hard work in learning English and other subjects. School ends at the beginning of the rain season, which washes away the school. Not to worry; the children and teacher will be ready to rebuild their school at the beginning of the next school year. Runford based his story on his experiences working in Chad, which adds authenticity. If you want a fantastic read aloud for elementary school aged children, this is a perfect selection. I recently read it to a group of children ranging in ages from 6-12, and everyone was enthralled.
∼Jennifer, Youth Services Librarian