BOOKS: Celebrate school and grandparents


By Judy Belanger

My intention for this month was to review stories about grandparents in honor of Grandparents Day. Then I got some great back-to-school books. That is, after all, a big day for children, especially those entering kindergarten. So here are a few of each.

TWELVE DAYS OF KINDERGARTEN: A COUNTING BOOK, by Deborah Lee Rose, illustrated by Carey Armstrong-Ellis, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., $14.95; ages 4-8.

What a fun way to use the 12-days song idea. Rose has picked 12 kindergarten learning experiences, such as seven stacks for sorting and eight beads for stringing. If you have visited a kindergarten room recently you know that Armstrong-Ellis has really captured the variety of typical daily activities. My favorite character is the little girl clinging to the teacher's skirt. Every class has one of them, especially at the beginning of the year. Besides just being fun, this book is a good way for parents of a kindergartner-to-be to show the child what he or she will be doing in school. Kindergarten teachers can use it to provide an overall picture of the school year. What great discussions the pictures can stimulate for a family or a class. Even older children will enjoy reviewing the fun they had in kindergarten.

EMILY & FRIENDS PLAYTIME LEARNING BOX, by Rosemary Wells, Hyperion Books for Children, $19.99; ages 4-8.

Many kindergarten math programs count the days of school and celebrate the 100th day when they have bundled together enough straws to make 10 groups of 10. In Emily's box, there are materials to help children keep track of 100 days of school on their own. There is a wall chart and stickers for days one to 100 and stickers for special days. There is also a deck of cards for “Go Fish” and a chart to mark a child's growth for the year. You will find a set of 100 cards with typical annual classroom events.

IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO SCHOOL, by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond, Laura Geringer, $15.99; ages 3-7. Mouse is ready for school. His lunchbox is packed, he has his notepad and pencils and he is ready for the day's activities. During the day, Mouse learns a little math, writes a story, eats his lunch, plays on the playground and arrives home ready to start all over again on another day. In the same vein as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this is just one of the circular tales that Numeroff has made popular.

HELLO SCHOOL: A Classroom Full of Poems, by Dee Lillegard, illustrated by Don Carter, Dragonfly, $6.99; ages 4-8.

This book is filled with short poems about school and the things you find there. The building is waiting, teacher is at her desk, and the child arrives ready for the first day with supplies in his bag and new shoes on his feet. All day long the children work at art, music, dress up and reading. When the day is over, the doors open for them to get on the bus and head home. Lillegard has captured the day and Carter, with his brightly colored three-dimensional pictures, has brought the poems to life. BISCUIT LOVES SCHOOL GIANT LIFT-THE-FLAP, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, pictures by Pat Schories, Harper Festival, $9.99; ages 3-6.

Biscuit, the puppy, gets to go to school. Children can have fun joining him as he looks around the classroom-spying things hidden behind 50 different flaps and peaking behind the blocks to find an item that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Biscuit is not the only one who will be exploring and learning while reading this book.

LITTLE BROWN BEAR WON'T GO TO SCHOOL!, by Jane Dyer, Little, Brown and Co., $15.95; ages 4-8.

Little Brown Bear doesn't want to go to school. Instead, he plans to find a job and work like Mom and Dad. He quickly learns he doesn't have the skills for work because he can't write or read instructions. He peeks in the school window and sees the other animals having a good time. The teacher welcomes him in and says she has a job for him. Every year there is at least one child who loudly announces he or she is not ready to go to school. Some children are apprehensive about their first day but Little Brown Bear may help ease this first-day, butterfly-stomach, situation.

D.W.'S GUIDE TO PRESCHOOL, by Marc Brown, Little, Brown and Co., $15.95; ages 4-8

Even little ones starting preschool for the first time, are familiar with Arthur and his little sister D.W. from Brown's many other books as well as the “Arthur” TV show. So D.W. is a good aardvark to explain the experience. She emphasizes school is a good place because a family member picks you up at the end of the day and you go back again tomorrow. New kindergartners will find a lot of similarities to their days as well.

MY GRANDMA IS WONDERFUL AND MY GRANDPA IS AMAZING, by Nick Butterworth, Candlewick Press, $5.99; ages 4-8.

These short, little books are filled with memories. The books can spark children to talk about what makes their grandparents wonderful and amazing. What do they like to do with grandpa? Where do they like to go with grandma? They can come up with ideas special to them and their own grandparents. They can also use these books as a format to write their own story.

THANK YOU, GRANDPA, by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft, Dutton Children's Books, $15.99; ages 4-8.

This book can be used to help a child understand the grief and loss of a loved one. The little girl enjoyed walking in the woods with her grandpa where they always found some interesting animals or insects. As each would run away or disappear, Grandpa would say, “Thank you and good-bye.” Thank you to the butterfly and the firefly. Thank you to the bird and the bee, to the grasshopper and the spider. And one day, the little girl is walking alone. As she remembers their walks together, she thanks her grandfather for teaching her how to say good-bye.



Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She substitutes in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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