#IMWAYR – Oct 3, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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Hello October!!

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School’s First Day of School

I’m a bit tardy to the back-to-school books party, but let me tell you, this book. Wow…oh wow…This book is stunning. Absolutely stunning.

It’s the first day of school at the brand new Frederick Douglass Elementary, and there are first-day jitters all around. Even the school is nervous! What if he doesn’t like the children? What if they don’t like him?

The deceptively simple story pairs beautifully with Christian Robinson’s almost childlike illustrations that capture the many different emotions at play on the first day of school.

Beyond being a comforting back to school story for nervous young students, School’s First Day of School is also a wonderful story for encouraging discussions of empathy and understanding. In one scene, for example, School intentionally sprays a young student with water, which many children will immediately identify as being “bad” or “naughty” behaviour. But if we look closer, we really that School did this because he was hurt and upset, and because he was responding to the mean comments and actions of some of the school children. By sharing and talking about stories like this, we can encourage children to look beyond the surface, and to consider why people might act or respond the way they do, and consider the impact our words and actions might have on others. It’s not about justifying or excusing behaviour – even School realises that his actions were naughty – but rather about learning to care about others, and try to understand their feelings and their point of view.

In a funny way, School’s First Day of School is also a loving reminder to us grown-ups that the little ones we work with are all unique, complex individuals. It’s unfortunately all too easy to judge or come to conclusions about children based on their words or actions, without considering the motivations behind them, and considering what we might do to uncover the roots behind different behaviours.

School’s First Day of School is a perfect title to talk about with people who think that just anyone can write a picture book, or who believe that children’s books can be simplistic because children are unsophisticated. Because it’s so short and the text so limited, each word in School’s First Day is important, and was chosen with care and meaning. It’s a beautiful story that’s perfect for sharing with little ones, and for encouraging important conversations with warmth and care.

This is an absolute winner in every way, and is highly, highly recommended.

And…that’s all I’ve got this week! Hope everyone has a good reading week!!

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18 thoughts on “#IMWAYR – Oct 3, 2016

  1. Wow nice pick. I like what you said about kids being complex I imagine it’s easy to lose that perspective sometimes in the day to day. And the school is nervous too- love that part! Looks fabulous.

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  2. I loved this book, too, Jane, and so did my granddaughters! Glad you shared it again. Wonder what the school’s feeling like now after the beginning has happened. That would be fun to ask the students!

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  3. I read it to a group of our kinders early in the year and they were super confused … “the building talks”? Every group is different. But I still liked the premise and the illustrations were fun. And your review of it is lovely!

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    • Ha yes, so true! What works beautifully with one group can absolutely tank with another. I used The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse with a group once, and there were so many confused, even indignant young critics in the room – “horses aren’t blue!!” 😉

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