Allen & Unwin, 2017
32pp., pbk, RRP $A14.99
Like thousands of other children around Australia at this time, Salma, Khalil, Jun, Stephen, Penny and Alex are getting ready for their first day of school. Each has a different routine and each has different emotions. Each has things they can do really well and each has things that bother them – differences that every kindergarten teacher knows will make this another exciting year as personalities emerge, learning happens and unbreakable bonds are made. Because no matter what those differences are – whether they are how the children are feeling, who is in their family, even how they journey to school, like Ms Manoli it is their job to shape and direct these young lives so their first day of school is the best day and each child feels excited and empowered to come back again and again and again… or twelve years!
Sharing First Day on the first day is a great way to start the school year as it will help the children understand that each of them is an individual but whatever their hopes and fears, they are shared by others and they are not alone. Even adults, like Alex’s mum who is also returning to school for the first time in a long time has similar feelings so it’s not babyish to be feeling apprehensive and concerned.
It could also be a solid foundation for a foray into the early steps of information literacy as each child compares their feelings, expectations, achievements and routines with the children in the story. There is scope for sequencing as they map the school day; graphing as they discover how each comes to school; mapping as they identify key parts of the school like Stephen who needs to know where all the toilets are – a host of real-life, in-context activities that can kickstart this learning journey.
First Day was first published 20 years ago – it is testament to its quality that it is still in print and still a staple of the early childhood collection.