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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

First day jitters

August 25, 2009

Vacation is over. Many schools across the country opened this week. All will start within the next week or so.

Whatever kind of school children attend, no matter what grade they're in, the first day is the first day — always a source of nervousness and excitement.

I remember posing for photographs my mother insisted on taking every first day of school. My sister and I are in the same dorky pose — hand up in a wave, walking toward the sidewalk in fresh school clothes.

Obviously we changed as we grew up over the years (our mother continued this tradition through high school!) but one thing remained constant. That was the look of controlled terror, hope, thrill, or anticipation in varying degrees over time.

No matter, children have concerns. Maybe they're like Wemberly in Wemberly Worried (Greenwillow), afraid of everything.

Or children could get ready in as many different ways as those in Miss Bindergarten's kindergarten class (Puffin).

A day might be just like Vera's First Day of School (Owlet) — excitement followed by minor disaster but with a fine ending with lots of support. Or it could be just the opposite; starting out unhappily but winding up better than expected like Little Cliff's First Day of School (Puffin).

No matter what the response or how you look at it, it's here: the start of a new school year. And kids everywhere are figuring out how to deal with the jitters.

These and other books to remind readers of common concerns, sometimes make readers feel better about their own, and sometimes even ally fears. But these are also good stories worth sharing particularly at this time of year.


It is out of print now, but I have atattered copy of Spider School that the 2nd graders love!

"First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg is a great book for the first day of school and can make students feel better knowing that many teachers have these jitters too!!!

How about "Splat the Cat" and his first day of Cat School jitters! One of my granddaughter's favs!

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo