By Faith Ward
The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time, but it can also be an anxious time for children returning to school or beginning the school year in a new environment. Scholastic.com published tips for starting the new year off the right way! Below are a few of the tips and ideas for books to read together for a peaceful transition to starting school.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Setting up a regular bedtime and wake-up routine before school starts is a crucial step to prepare your child for class and a practical way to cut down on first-day stress.
Accentuate the positive. If your child is feeling a bit anxious about going back to school, keep a positive attitude. Recall the fun and exciting events, field trips, projects, and so on from years past, and show excitement about the opportunities for learning new things in the upcoming year.
Talk it out. Asking your child about school is important. It shows her that you value her education. Try to avoid general questions, like “How was your day?” These will most likely produce one-word answers. Be specific about your questions so that the answers can be the stepping stone to a deeper conversation.
Read, read, read! Reading with your child is an invaluable way to spend quality time together on a daily basis. In addition to other long-term academic benefits of reading together, this simple activity can also be a practical way to start conversations about your child’s life at school and with friends.
Books for a Peaceful Transition to School
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
This is a great book for parents to read to their children before that sometimes terrifying first day of school, or by the teacher. Most young students can relate to Wemberly’s worries and knowing that they are not the only ones at school who are anxious is helpful! In this story, Wemberly, a young mouse, worries about everything! Kevin Henkes capably takes the readers through Wemberly’s list of worries – big ones and small ones. Wemberly worries constantly despite her grandmother telling her she worries too much. The source of her biggest worry is her first day of school. When she arrives however, her teacher introduces her to another student who also is carrying a doll and seems a bit shy. The two become instant friends and enjoy their first day of school together. As Wemberly leaves in the afternoon, she tells her teacher not to worry, that she will be back tomorrow!
The Story of Ruby Bridges is a classic example of how courageous, non-violent people and acts helped end the civil rights movement. This book is an incredibly powerful read-aloud for any elementary class for highlighting the power a young school girl had just through her actions. The story begins by introducing Ruby, a young African-American girl growing up in New Orleans during the Civil Rights movement. When Ruby is ordered by the court to attend an all white school, angry protests break out. Although Ruby is threatened every day when she enters and exits school, she never gets discouraged. When her teacher asks Ruby how she manages to stay so calm in the face of such anger, Ruby answers that in fact she prays for the angry protestors to change their ways. The brave steps Ruby took to school made a big difference and eventually her actions were a factor which contributed into the end of Civil Rights movement. George Ford, the illustrator of this book, uses watercolor paintings to depict the uneasy atmosphere of the books setting.
The Recess Queen is a story about a bully named Mean Jean that terrorizes kids on the playground. When it comes to recess time, Mean Jean dominates the playground! “Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.” A new student Katie Sue doesn’t know about Mean Jean’s rules and as a result she enjoys her time at recess doing whatever she wants. When Mean Jean confronts Katie Sue, she stands up for herself in the face of Mean Jean, the bully. Mean Jean learns to change her behavior from Katie Sue and all of the students benefit from this! Unfortunately, bullying can be a major problem in schools. This book help facilitate a meaningful discussion about bullying in both simple and complex ways at school. This is a great read aloud for the start of school and elementary teachers can benefit from sharing this book in their class.
Faith Ward is a Librarian at Garrison Forest School. Ms. Ward has an MLS from the Catholic University of America and holds an MA Ed in Literacy from Loyola University Maryland. She is currently a member of the Maryland Association of School Librarian’s Black Eyed Susan Award Committee.