In realizing that the first weeks of school are fast approaching (or have already started for some), and as a firm believer in bibliotherapy, I recently headed to the Lincoln Library children's section to ask about back to school books. I expect to browse through a half dozen titles and instead the librarians handed me a list of over 75 books! I perused the shelves and wanted to recommend four books as superb reading with your elementary school aged child during those trying back to school moments.
Bo Flood's I'll Go to School If... is a wonderfully short and simple book that might help with big and complex worries: looking inadequate in front of your school chums, making mistakes, shaming yourself by crying or wetting your pants, getting teased, missing Mom or the bus, etc. When mom reveals her own fears, our little school girl feels the need to comfort mom and suddenly there's a sweet resolution. This book had me at its cover, showing a disgruntled child with arms folded across her chest, seeming to indicate that she was determined to go to school only on certain conditions. The book delivers straight through to the back page, which offers handy and helpful questions and conversations that may serve to elicit your own child's concerns.
Lauren Child's book I Am Too Absolutely Small for School had me with its title and illustrations, the latter including lots of colors and combinations of patterns. The story again confronts (nicely and with gentle humor) the insecurities of a small child heading back to school: leaving home, eating lunch alone, and not being smart enough or quick enough to learn numbers, letters, and words. An imaginary friend plays a nice role in that he takes on the fears of Lola, the little girl who's way too little to go to school. All's well that ends well and this story ends well.
I absolutely positively adore Audrey Penn's book The Kissing Hand. I might just read this book over and over even though I don't have an elementary school aged child heading back to the early grades. Chester doesn't want to go to school for all the usual reasons, but mostly because he's worried about separating from his mother. When his mom offers him something special, the kissing hand, he feels the permanence of love that Chester and the child (in all of us) need to move on. Honestly, I tried kissing the palm of my hand and I felt the love Mrs. Raccoon promises. What back to schoolers need is love and this book suggests how to package and make permanent that love.
A short list of back to school books would be complete without Rosemary Wells' My Kindergarten. This book is a virtual tome for the young back to schooler. Wells includes poems, songs, activities, lessons, dances, friendships, weather, seasons, international stamps, personality differences, football games, clean-up days, and everything else a young student might confront during the first year of kindergarten. I particularly loved the very first song on the very first page, "Starlight, Starbright," and also toward the end of the book, the inclusion of the importance of libraries.
Wishing all of you sending kids to school this fall all the best!
And for more great tips on school adjustments, check out Hetti's column on fall structure strategies, Sheri's post on easing back to school jitters, Heather's post on transitioning to kindergarten, and my posts on coping with kindergarten transitions, coping with end of year transitions, and the keepsake item that helped Laurel make it through her first year of elementary school.