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Are You Ready? School's Open!

It's that time of year again! When the days start getting shorter and as temperatures cool down, that could only mean that it's time for school to start again. There's a lot to be excited about — new friends, old friends, learning interesting things. But school can be kind of scary, too. Find out if a girl's buffalo is ready for school or how saber-toting pirates enjoy school. Practice a fire drill, ride a school bus, and more — all in the books suggested here, just in time for the new school year!

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Carmen Learns English

By: Judy Cox
Illustrated by: Angela Domínguez
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Starting school can be especially frightening if you don't yet speak English. But Carmen is determined to learn English well in order to teach her little sister. With a supportive teacher and growing confidence, Carmen gradually learns the new language. Expressive illustrations complement this recognizable story.

Fire Drill

By: Paul DuBois Jacobs, Jennifer Swender
Illustrated by: Voun Lee
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The young children in class are introduced to safety rules when they have a fire drill. Their varied reactions when their routine is interrupted and a "loud bell rings" are seen in crisp, colorful collages though the steady, rhythmic text suggests that everything is under control.

First Grade Jitters

By: Robert Quackenbush
Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The narrator is cranky with the first grade jitters, according to his parents. Aidan stays that way until his friends return from vacation. As they share friendship and information, Aidan's concerns melt away and he looks forward to first grade. Now in an illustrated edition, children will empathize with Aidan and his friends.

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

By: Audrey Vernick
Illustrated by: Daniel Jennewein
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A girl with ponytails takes her buffalo to school, and as one might guess, the buffalo doesn't respond quite the same as everyone else. But the buffalo learns about individuality and respect just like the children starting kindergarten will. Cartoon illustrations enhance the silliness of the sincere message.

Kindergarten Day: USA and China

By: Trish Marx, Ellen Senisi
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Children going to kindergarten in the U.S. are welcomed by the teacher, practice reading, eat, and more — just like their counterparts in Beijing. A day of school life in Schenectady, New York, and Beijing, China, shown in expressive photographs, highlight commonalities. Chinese is included, though it is also transliterated.

Kindergarten Diary

By: Antoinette Portis
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The day before the first day of school Annalina declares in her diary: "I don't want to go to kindergarten!" Her worries are familiar, expressed in boldly colored and outlined illustrations. As the month goes along, however, Annalina's concerns are dispelled and she grows to love school, her friends and teacher, and kindergarten.

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don't!)

By: Barbara Bottner
Illustrated by: Michael Emberley
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Miss Brooks, the librarian at the narrator's school, brings books alive by dressing up for reading circle. But the narrator still doesn't find books intriguing like Miss Brooks — that is until she finds one filled with all of the gross things she enjoys; she's discovered Shrek! Cartoon-like illustrations present the eccentric but lovable characters in this playful tale.

Pirate's Guide to First Grade

By: James Preller
Illustrated by: Greg Ruth
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An imaginative boy goes to the first day of school with his "salty crew of swabbies" by his side "sailing for adventure…" The make-believe pirates are with him throughout the day. The entire tale told in pirate lingo is ideal for reading aloud. The pirates are always with the boy but depicted in monochromatic sketches on each full-color page.

There's No Place Like School: Classroom Poems

By: Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by: Jane Manning
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

From racing out of the house to riding the bus with "thirty pairs of sleepy eyes" to the much noisier ride home, these short, humorous poems bring the school day to life. Loose watercolors add verve to the light and varied verse.

This School Year Will Be the Best!

By: Kay Winters
Illustrated by: Renee Andriani
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Gathered by their teacher on the first day of school, each child shares what he or she wants to have happen this year. The range of answers shows the many interests and personalities in a classroom until the teacher shares her wish: to get to know each child. Lively ink and wash illustrations are sure to start anyone’s school year off right.

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