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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.

Books to Ease Back-to-School Jitters

September 6, 2016

It’s that time of year again: back to school. It can be a daunting experience especially for young children and for their parents. I remember the mixed feelings I had when my son started school. It was exciting, nerve-wracking, freeing, and devastating all at the same time. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt certainly was comforting.

Young children, however, don’t have either the experience or language to help them understand that what they’re not the first to feel the same kinds of things that I felt.  Books help children realize this and allow them to examine what they once felt.  In other words, books help build experience and empathy — even for the physical building. 


School's First Day of School

Frederick Douglass Elementary is a brand new school with a distinct personality and serious doubts about the academic year. Will he like the kids? Will they like him? School's First Day of School  by Adam Rex (Roaring Brook) shares what the poor building is feeling — from the building’s point of view. Illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist, Christian Robinson show the colorful activity and diversity of the school in gloriously open pages. School’s first day winds up being better than anticipated in spite of a few hiccups along the way.



The Class

Children get ready for their first day of school in different ways. Some are fashionistas, others are more reluctant; some are eager, others not so much. Meet the kids in The Class (Beach Lane) by Boni Ashburn with humorous, detailed illustrations by Kimberly Gee as they prepare for their first day.





Ming Goes to SchoolWhen Ming Goes to School (Sky Pony), she experiences many things in a typical school day including a few opposites such as hello/goodbye; and new and lonely/familiar and comfortable. Quiet illustrations by Maja Löfdahl are gentle, naïve to complement the straightforward text by Deirdre Sullivan. 





It is sure to be a year of firsts for children, parents, teachers — and even school buildings. Knowing that others have experienced first day jitters — maybe even just a school building — might mitigate some concerns.


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