Monday, August 15, 2016

School's First Day of School, by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson (ages 4-8)

Across the country, kids are starting school, anticipating changes, wondering about new teachers, looking forward to seeing friends. Adam Rex and Christian Robinson bring a terrific new spin to these transitions by asking: how does the school feel about all of this?
School's First Day of School
by Adam Rex
illustrated by Christian Robinson
Roaring Brook / Macmillan, 2016
Your local library
ages 4-8
*best new book*
All summer long, Frederick Douglass Elementary has been getting ready. Everything is clean and spiffy, quiet and orderly. "Won't be just us for long," says his friend Janitor; soon school will start and "you'll be filled with children." Janitor says, “Don’t worry--you’ll like the children,” but school does worry.
"Won't be just us for long," said Janitor. "Soon the teachers will come, and then you'll be filled with children."
As the children arrive, the school is nervous. So many children! "They got everywhere." And when some kids are bored or sad, school worries that it isn't good enough. "'This place stinks,' said one, and the school gasped." One small girl is so sad and upset that her mother has to carry her into school.
"Then they came, the children did, and there were more of them than the school could possible have imagined."
Kids will laugh at the way Adam Rex flips this story, getting them to think about the beginning of school in a whole new way. Christian Robinson's illustrations are colorful cut-paper collages, full of diverse kids. I love the way Rex's humor is gently witty, encouraging readers to relate to the school's feelings without going overboard on the personification.

Best of all, this story sets up a wonderful conversation: ask kids how different characters are feeling, how those feelings change, why they change. As young children get ready for a big transition, it's a good moment to focus on feelings. PBS Parents talks specifically about helping five-year-olds build their emotional tool-kit:
"Emotional self-awareness involves identifying and understanding one's emotions ― including "big feelings" that can sometimes overwhelm us. As Fred Rogers reminds us: 'When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.'"
Reading aloud together, talking about picture books, helps children build empathy as they think about other people's thoughts and feelings. What fun to think about the school having feelings, too!

Illustrations copyright © Christian Robinson, 2016, shared with permission of the publisher. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Roaring Brook / Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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