In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.
As a new Montessori teacher, I was unsure how to welcome all of the children into our classroom on that first day. I wanted to let them know that our space was a welcoming space, but they didn’t know me, weren’t comfortable with me (yet) and for some, this was their first foray into a school setting. So, I turned to the thing that brings me comfort – books.
I read stories about the first day of school, but I also made it a point to share books and stories with them everyday. My assistant was completely on board with this idea – she loved children’s books as much as I did. While the children were washing their hands and getting ready for lunch – we read stories. While they were washing their hands after lunch and we were waiting for everyone to finish up – we read stories. Below, you will find some books that may help ease a child when they find themselves in a new situation.
Ages 2.5 and up
Mackall, Dandi Daley. First Day. Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. Silver Whistle & Harcourt, Inc.: San Diego, 2003.
With rhyming text and child-like pictures, this book follows a young girl through the excitement of her first day of school. On the way to school, she notices some of the other kids and notes how much bigger they seem and wonders if her parents could stay for that first day. The bell rings and she bids them farewell and starts to learn about her new classroom. She and her classmates engage in some typical American preschool activities (coloring, making block towers, and playing on the playground). At the end of the first day, she is happy to see her parents, but excited to return to school the next day.
Ages 4 and up
Boden, Stephanie. Elizabeti’s School. Illustrated by Christy Hale. Lee & Low Books, Inc.: New York, 2002.
The author spent time in Tanzania during her youth and the Elizabeti series of books are the results of her experiences. In this story, Elizabeti has reached the age where she gets to go to school (about 7 or 8, based on the illustrations). The night before her first day, she prepares her uniform and her new shoes. She and her older sister, Pendo, walk to school where Elizabeti enjoys learning how to count to five and playing with her new friends. She misses her family at home, but loves learning at school. A pronunciation guide is provided at the back of the book.
Ages 3.5 and up
Juster, Norton. The Hello Goodbye Window. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Hyperion Books for Children: New York, 2005.
Raschka’s unique illustrations won the Caldecott Award for this book, a nice reflection on interracial marriage and family life . A young preschool girl spends the weekdays with her Nanna and Poppy, who live in a big house in the middle of town. Together they work on projects together, pretend a dinosaur is outside and take afternoon naps. The girl and her grandparents enjoy their time together and when her parents come to pick her up, she is sad, but happy too and so they make a big deal of saying goodbye at the window by the front door (the hello, goodbye window). A lovely story about spending time with loved ones and enjoying all of the people in your life. But, really, it’s a story about being a preschooler and pretending a window is something more…