School is beginning again as summertime wanes. Teachers are gearing up for lessons to be taught and books to be read. Children are looking forward to getting back in the classrooms and be among their friends. Here are some outstanding picture books that celebrate the many aspects of school. All of these books are good for ages four through eight, unless otherwise indicated.
I Got the School Spirit, by Connie Schofield-Morrison, and gorgeously painted with oil on canvass by Frank Morrison, is a perfect read in the classroom for the first day of school. The little girl on the cover, and throughout the book, exudes a positive energy and the excitement of getting back to school now that summer is over. This great anticipation is precisely shown by this girl’s bright smile even while brushing her teeth – and throughout her school day. No wonder her happiness brushed off even on a worried girl next to her on the bus. You see how the worried girl is affected by smiles and friendliness of the main character as the other girl ends up smiling as well. This book is full of onomatopoeias helping move the excitement of school to practically jump off the pages.
I Don’t Want to Wash My Hands!, by Tony Ross, reminds children of the importance of washing their hands, especially now and especially while at school. This small sized paperback goes through the reasons why it’s important to always wash your hands. It briefly discusses how germs and tiny bugs which can’t be seen, can get inside our bodies and make us sick. This reinstates how washing our hands helps to protect us and keep us healthy. The pictures of a delightful little girl who wonders why washing hands is important are delightful. The artwork was done in pen, ink and watercolor.
I Love My Teacher, by Giles Andreas, and brightly illustrated on the double page view by Emma Dodd, helps youngsters, ages three to five, see what school is all about. The short rhyming text tells of the experience in brief detail. We do some writing…/ numbers too. / ‘Cause learning stuff / is good for you. The school day is presented from the moment of entering the room and hanging up your coat next to the child’s name, to the end of the school day after singing time is done and coats are placed back on. This book not only enlightens the child of what to expect in school, but it also invites discussions on many topics such as getting along with others and sharing. This entire book gleans with cheer.
Fair Shares, by Pippa Goodhart, and richly illustrated digitally by Anna Doherty, showcases how the way some perceive life may seem unfair, but actually might be fair in their specific circumstance. Bear and Hare attempt to each pick pears from a tree but both are not tall enough. Hare comes up with a solution by locating three chairs. But bear says it’s not fair for Hare to have two of the chairs and she only gets one. The result is discovering it actually meets the needs of both since Bear is much taller than Hare. This is a perfect book to open discussions of what kids think is fair – or not.
Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans, is another great first day of school story. Ollie seems to be a strange fit for his dog, Augustus. Ollie is small and a bit fragile where Augustus is extremely large. But they love each other and do everything together each day. But when it comes time for school, Ollie is worried that his dog is lonely without him. What he discovers has an element of discussion for kids who are worried about school and making friends. The wonderful artwork radiates the delicate storyline beautifully and was done in watercolor, gouache and pencil. Be sure to check out the ingenious end pages.
Nola’s Scribbles Saves the Day, by Cristina Lalli, celebrates each child’s uniqueness and imagination. Nola loves to scribble and becomes very frustrated when others don’t seem to see what her lovely scribbles portray. This becomes discouraging to Nola. So much so that she tries to unbend her scribbles and change the course of the creativity. When she draws a blank, she finds herself inside a boring blank page. But she soon discovers other creative souls are there also and by letting their inhibitions go, creativity comes back. The end-pages, both front and back, are a perfect setting for the storyline! The delightful illustrations were done digitally.
We will Rock our Classmates, by Ryan T. Higgins, is a wonderful and very funny story about believing in who you are and all your possibilities. It begins with a class picture full of students and Penelope definitely stands out because she is the only T. Rex in the class. Penelope struggles to convey that she is more than just a dinosaur as she can be very fun to play with. But her classmates only see her as a dinosaur. The one thing Penelope loves to do is sing with her guitar and rock out. So, when it comes time to sign up for the school talent show, she readily writes her name. But soon she becomes despondent and feels she can’t do this. What happens next will have kids giggling as well as reflecting on their own talents. There is much to learn in this delightful book. The wonderful illustrations were created using scans of treated clay board for textures, graphite, ink and photoshop. The end-pages are a story all by themselves!