8 by Eight
This month's 8 by Eight list focuses on books about and for school.
The must have back-to-school book this year is The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems. Not only does this book bring back the much-loved pigeon, but it addresses some of the fears and anxieties some kids might associate with starting a new school year, and, as always, ends with a humorous twist. We all know how you get to school right? The pigeon is ecstatic when he finally discovers . . . the school bus!
Fortunately, not all books are about the fears of starting school. Some kids are excited and happy to be in school and The King of Kindergarten reflects this positive approach. Our Hero, the King of Kindergarten, dresses himself, approaches the day with confidence, and enthusiastically shares his stories with his parents when he comes home.
Staying Safe at School is part of a series of instructional books that include Who's Who at School, Schools Have Rules, and My first Day of School. Each book focuses on a different child and their perspective about their school. Staying Safe addresses bus safety, fire drills, bullying, and lockdown drills. The emphasis of this book is the message not the story, nevertheless teachers, librarians, and parents might appreciate the introduction to some of these tough topics. The series prompts conversations throughout each book for the child to talk through their own experiences at school.
Mermaid School is another popular title. Told in verse, Molly the mermaid gets ready, makes friends, and experiences a typical day of school with art, music, recess, lunch, and story time where the teacher reads a fantasy story about kids who have no tails and cannot breathe under water. A sweet story, with soft pastel illustrations, Mermaid School is a fun book for kids starting kindergarten as well as returning first and second graders.
The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar and Alea Marley is a wonderful new book about expressing emotions and moving to a new school. Harpreet wears colorful parkas to match his mood: "yellow when he felt sunny," "pink when he felt like celebrating," and "red when he needed an extra boost of courage." When his family moves to a new town across the country, it is colder than the California weather he grew up with and he doesn't know anyone. His not-so-happy colors come out and he wears blue when he feels nervous and gray for sadness. He reserves white for "when he felt shy, not wanting to be seen" which is how he feels most of the time at his new school. Making a new friend brings out his happy colors again and even white takes on a different meaning as he adjusts to his new home.
In A Friend for Henry, Henry tries to make friends with different kids in his classroom. Henry follows the rules and is very precise. His frustration with his classmates' imagination, noise, and disregard for fairness leave him wondering if he'll find a friend who appreciates the same things he does. Fortunately, he meets Katie and the two find common ground. A sweet story with a good reminder that you don't have to connect with everyone and the satisfaction of finding someone who appreciates you just as you are.
Count on Me by Miguel Tanco is a delightful celebration of math. An unnamed first-person narrator observes the passions and talents in her family. Dad loves art, Mom loves science, and her brother's talent for music is catching up with his passion for it. Our narrator tries various activities with not much success, but finally acknowledges that her passion is Math! "Math is all around us," she explains; "It's often hidden, and I love finding it." From there she points out the geometric shapes on the playground, groupings at dinner, and the engineering of paper airplanes. Her supportive family listens to her explain the math of art, even if it is a bit hard to understand. The book concludes with several pages explaining the visual math that appears throughout the story. A delightful ode to the math infused in nature, art, music, and every aspect of our lives, Count on Me is a perfect story to read with all students to encourage the mathphobes as much as to celebrate with the math-lovers.