It is Edward’s first day at knight school and to protect himself from the battles he expects to face, he puts on his full suit of armour. Sitting in the back of the Great Hall surrounded by unfriendly creatures , he is mortified when the king asks him to tell the others about himself. Even though at home he likes to fight giants and ogres, here at knight school he seems to be surrounded by them and he is not so brave. And when one sits beside him on the bench as he starts to eat his lunch, things are r-e-a-l-l-y scary…
It is that time of the year again when the prospect of Big School is looming closer and closer and some of our little ones are getting really apprehensive. There is a mixture and nerves that can become overwhelming.. So stories like these that not only show that fears are shared but they can be overcome are welcome as they offer such reassurance. Cleverly illustrated showing the ogres and dragons as ordinary boys and girls and the concept of the physical armour holding him back in the same way that mental armour does, Edward comes to some new understandings and discovers this school-thing isn’t as frightening after all.
This is one to add to your collection to share to give an added dose of confidence and show that even the bravest can feel nervous.
Summer holidays are drawing to a close and the crayons are getting ready to go back to school. Each has its own special subject that it prefers, but there is one that they all agree on….
As our own summer break begins to drag on for some, this is a reminder of all the fun that can be had at school and the new learning and adventures that are on the horizon. Young readers will enjoy predicting what each colour likes while sharing their own favourites too.
This is a series that makes the ordinary extraordinary in a simple but engaging way.
Maurice has a funny feeling in his tummy – because while he is excited to be starting big school, he is also nervous because of the new people he will meet, the new things he will do and the new routines he will have to learn. But his Play School friends are feeling the same way, especially after Mr Bao comes to talk about some of the things to expect, so they all go home to practise the things they will need to do – trying on new shoes, putting on their uniform, packing their backpack, using a checklist to make sure everything is included, and even learning how to introduce themselves to new friends.
And then it is time for THE day,,,
This is another in the excellent Mindfully Me series in which the familiar characters of Play School put themselves in the shoes of children facing common situations and offer suggestions and strategies for coping with what might arise. As many young readers are about to take this big step themselves, this is another story to share to show them that not only will they be okay but the apprehension they are feeling is common to everyone so they are not alone. But being prepared is a big start to building resilience and doing the sorts of things Maurice does will help them feel in control.
Cara Lee is a proud mouse. She is proud of her big sister Dee. She is proud of her specially decorated journal. And now she’s proud to become what she’s always wanted to be: a student. But her first day of school is different than she imagined. Everyone keeps comparing her to Dee. But who is Cara Lee?
Faced with an issue that many young children will encounter in the next few weeks as they start school and find themselves in the shadows of their brothers and sisters who have gone before, this is a touching tale of a little mouse who has to learn who she is, rather than just being Dee’s sister. Using her mother’s advice that often you see yourself more clearly if you stand alone, Cara Lee sets out to discover just who she is and what her unique talents are.
A sequel to Loud Mouse, in which Dee, herself finds her voice, this is one to share with little ones starting school to give them the confidence to shine in their own way, as well as showing those around them that being siblings doesn’t mean you are the same.
Lawrence stays close to home because “out there” is too big and loud and crowded. Sophia stays high up in the tree branches because “down there” is too bumpy, dark and dangerous. When they meet and become friends, they find ways to enjoy each other’s company without leaving their own safe spots . . . until a storm comes, and both are so worried about the other that they are finally able to take a huge, scary leap into the unknown. Together they feel brave, and the future is suddenly a lot more interesting.
This is a story about feeling vulnerable and scared, and your imagination making things more fearful than they actually are. How gradually taking the first step and then another, can lead to something so amazing that the things you feared just fall away. How sometimes your concern for someone or something else can lead you to do things you would never have considered possible when you are the only one in the picture. And it’s particularly appropriate for this time of the year and new schools loom for so many of our young readers and anxiety increases. So much easier to stay in your comfort zone than risk being where it seems big and loud and crowded. Talking about the joys that Lawrence and Sophia shared because one day Sophia got the courage to walk to the very end of her branch might just be the impetus for encouraging your child to take their first step.
On a broader scale, research and data gathered since COVID, particularly, are showing that the levels of anxiety in children and school refusal is at an all-time high, and while one gently written and illustrated picture book is not going to solve such a complex problem, nevertheless it may be a starting point. With its deceptively simple text and soft palette, this is a story that offers neither solution nor judgement but allows the anxious child to see themselves in a story and offers them some hope that there can be a life beyond their self-imposed prison that they can be a part of, and that might start with a conversation after sharing the story. Perhaps musing on why both Lawrence and Sophia only feel safe and comfortable in their own space, putting the conversation at arm’s length so the child doesn’t feel threatened, will offer an insight into what is causing the child to feel so anxious, because it is certainly more than “laziness” and “being okay to stay home” as one commentator recently opined.
This interview between creators Doreen and Brian Cronin offers an insight into the story behind the story including how there is a bit of both Lawrence and Sophia in both of them.
When a little girl wakes up on the first day of school, the butterflies in her stomach feel positively giant-sized! She really wants her mom to stay with her, on this first day. As she and her mother make their way to school, her mother explains how the butterflies are a good thing. Everyone gets them (including parents) and they are a sign of something exciting happening—that we’re about to learn and grow from a new experience and they can help us through it. So with the butterflies as her guide, the girl soars into her first day.
As little ones’ thoughts turn to the next big step in their lives – moving from preschool to big school – it is natural that there are going to be nerves and anxiety as the transition will be daunting for many. So this is another one to add to that collection to share to reassure them that their feelings are natural but they can be managed if they look through a positive lens. Even though it is American, it carries the universal message that everyone shares a fear of the unknown to some degree and that, in itself, can bring peace and calm. It also reassures them that they are old enough and brave enough to take this step, and it will only be a short time with new and familiar friends before their butterflies have disappeared.
It’s a big day for Koko for not only does he have to leave the shell that has been his home since he was born because he now has a tough shell of his own, but he must also crack a coconut by himself if he is to feed himself and survive. But to reach the coconut there is an enormous palm tree to climb, and then, once he has the coconut on the ground there is the task of opening it. Even though all his friends are cheering him on, it does seem like an insurmountable task so will he succeed?
Based on the life stories of Birgus latro, the large terrestrial crabs of her native Tahiti, Turia Pitt has crafted a story of determination, perseverance and resilience – all those qualities that adults associate with her own story of survival. But for young readers, it is also an inspirational story as they tackle big challenges in their own lives, such as starting school. Like Koko, it is the next must-do part of their growing up, and like Koko, all their family and friends are encouraging them on the way, expecting them to succeed even if there are setbacks. But most importantly, like Koko, they have to believe in themselves, know that they will succeed and be willing and courageous enough to take the next step, just as Koko climbed the palm tree continually telling himself he could do it.
Koko is the story’s narrator which immediately puts the reader in Koko’s “shoes”, while the stunning illustrations with their clever use of perspective echo the enormity of the task ahead so they are invested in the story from the get-go.
At this time of the year our young ones are hearing all sorts of stories about starting school and overcoming their fears, so this is one to add to that collection because of its parallels with that experience and its positive message. As a story it is a stand-alone but astute adults will help the young listener dig deeper, helping them to understand that stories can have lots of layers of meaning. The message of believing in yourself is powerful and one our children need to hear so often.
Sukie is starting a new school and shares the concerns of every child in the same situation – will she make friends. But she soon learns that making friends can happen in all sorts of ways, big and small, even unexpected. However, it is not enough to make friends – you have to work on maintaining the friendships by respecting others’ differences as well as the things you have in common.
So many children who have been restricted by stay-at-home orders in parts of Australia are separated from their friends right now – even though they have visual contact through online sources or audio through the phones, it is the physical, spontaneous face-to-face contact they are missing and which is impacting on their mental well-being. Even Miss 10, the family social butterfly, is worried that she will be forgotten and won’t have any friends when school eventually returns.
If nothing else, this time at home has demonstrated the critical role schools play well beyond the formal academic teaching and this book would be a worthwhile addition to any teacher’s toolkit as they help their students navigate making friends and being friends again after such a long social isolation. It has a wider reach than just supporting those who will be starting a new school as a new year approaches. Readers are invited to agree, disagree and add to the situations in which Sukie finds herself – should be embarrassed and uncomfortable that Mikkel refuses her help with his jigsaw puzzle or is it OK to say no sometimes? And cleverly, illustrator Colleen Larmour has included a picture of someone sharing kindness on almost every page, opening up not only an opportunity to look closely but also the concept of doing a random act of kindness every day.
Our children are negotiating a tricky time at the moment, different but just as confronting as children in past generations, and the strategies and coping mechanisms we help them to develop now will play a large role in how they will survive and thrive. This book has a role to play in that.
It’s time to go to big school but what will it be like? How will the day be filled? What are the expectations?
Using a double-page spread for topics such as getting ready, how to get there, what will happen and even why we go to school, this book follows six children as they begin this new adventure in their lives. The text speaks directly to the child and there are plenty of illustrations to help them imagine this new adventure they are about to embrace.
Even though it is an English production, both the anxiety that children feel and the activities of the new entrants’ classroom are universal and so this translates to the Australian situation well, including a page for the children to talk about the concerns they have..
With big school getting larger on the horizon for our little ones but visits to those early childhood classes limited in some states, this is an opportunity for parents to start preparing their child for what can be expected and if there are online orientations, for classroom teacher to use it as a way to guide their viewers through the first days. They might not be able to show their own classes in action but this is a suitable substitute.
It’s an exciting day for Frankie – it’s his day for kindergarten. But Frankie isn’t a timid, shy child about to take his first step on a new adventure – he’s a dog who goes with his owner, the Kindy teacher, to join in all the fun of meeting up with friends, playing inside and out, visiting the pets. listening to stories, having lunch and quiet time and learning all sorts of new things. His mate George the cat would like to go too but he is deemed too little, so he hops in a box…
Written by two experienced kindergarten teachers based on their own kindy – Frankie belongs to Miss Peta – this is a joyful introduction to the kindy/preschool day that will be a new adventure for many of our littlest readers very soon. Many of them will experience trepidation rather than anticipation so this story with its bright, bold illustrations will be excellent for helping to prepare them and pave the way. Even though there might not be a Frankie (or a cheeky George) to join them, nevertheless all the activities will be there awaiting them as will the welcoming teachers and lots of new friends to play with.
With lockdown and restrictions, preventing many of the face-to-face orientations that usually start about this time, so this would be the ideal story to share as alternative preparation.