Fall is around the corner and that means it’s also back to school time. So how about some great books on the subject?
Let’s begin with six fiction books that are geared for ages nine and older. The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, by Candace Fleming, is a hilarious story with moral lessons hailing back to the classic Aesop Fables. Even though there is continuity of a story throughout the book that starts with the beginning of the school year in Mr. Jupiter’s class, each chapter ends with a simple moral learned by all in the class. The story, characters and situations are rich and funny making this a fun read-aloud.
Count Down to Summer: A Poem For Every Day of the School Year, by J. Patrick Lewis, and illustrated by Ethan Long, begins with number 180 and a poem about the beginning of school. From there, each poem is numbered one less than the previous and the poems go along with the seasons and holidays as the school year progresses. The poems are clever and fun and kids will surely get a kick out of reading them day by day. And chances are they’ll be motivated to make up a few of their own.
100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know, from the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries, is a compacted paper-back with words nicely defined. But what makes this book stand out is the way the word is placed into a quoted paragraph from a well-known book. Kids will really “get” the use and usage of these more difficult and frequently used words.
Zombies! Evacuate the School!, with poems by Sara Holbrook, and illustrated by Karen Sandstrom, is a nice assortment of poems relating to school work and activities in upper elementary. The cartoon-like illustrations add to the humor but what makes this book unusual and a good learning tool is the way the author gives tips and advice on writing your own poetry.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Strange School Stories, published by Scholastic, is filled with bizarre, interesting and unbelievable quick reads that kids, especially the reluctant reader, will enjoy reading and attempting to believe – or not.
Ultimate Guide to Surviving Middle School, from the creators of Girls’ Life Magazine, and published by Scholastic, is a paper-back book that’s an easy and informative read, as well as a discussion oriented guide to help girls as they enter junior high with the changes in their feelings, looks and attitudes. Parents of pre-teen girls should opt for this book!
The next two books are beginning and early chapter books beginning with the early reader. I Love School!, by Hans Wilhelm, is a book in a series about Noodles the dog and how much he adores school. Amazing Monty, by Johanna Hurwitz, and illustrated by Anik McGrory, is a great series for easy chapter book readers and has the 6-year-old finding that there are some parakeets that need a new home and they end up at his school for classroom pets. There are many adventures packed in this simple and fun book!
The rest of the books are picture books geared for ages four to eight. Kindergarten Diary, by Antoinette Portis, has Annalina writing in her diary as her days begin in her new school. But she writes that she doesn’t want to go. However, she soon discovers that it’s an exciting and fun place to be and her diary reflects this. The colorful and bright illustrations magnify a Kindergarten feeling throughout.
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?, by Audrey Vernick, and illustrated by Daniel Jennewein, is a great book to help your youngster prepare for Kindergarten. Instead of using children for the main theme, buffaloes are used which adds humor into every situation. It’s okay for buffaloes to get their hooves messy and they can learn how to use their horns to get along. This book begs for discussions helping those tepid little ones adjust to a regular school environment.
Feeling good about yourself, and getting along with others, are key components for school. I’m the Best, by Lucy Cousins, has Dog thinking he can do everything when really he just needs friends to feel good about himself. Emily’s New Friend, by Cindy Post Senning, Ed. D. and Peggy Post, and illustrated by Steve Bjorkman, shows how Emily uses courage, kindness and nice manners when meeting and making friends. The watercolors used make good use for teachable moments. Forever Friends, by Carin Berger, demonstrates how a strong friendship can last through the seasons. The illustrations are depicted on graph and different forms of paper and the color seems to bounce off the pages as the shapes of these two friends, a bird and a rabbit. Smile!, by Leigh Hodgkinson, shows how an adorable little girl with a name that depicts how she normally is, “Sunny”, has become gloomy when she loses her smile. The brightly illustrated pictures completely cover each page and are rendered as if youngsters drew them. This book will surely bring a smile to all who read it.