Rockin’ the New School Year: a booklist by Matthew C. Winner
The lazy days of summer are drawing to a close and the first day of school is beginning to loom overhead like an enormous monster-battling robot. After a summer of dragon riding, outer space journeys, and wizarding antics, it’s time to turn our attention to back-to-school shopping, color-coordinated backpacks and lunch boxes, and, of course, some great stories to kick off the school year.
Here are a couple of my favorite back-to-school reads that are sure to please. These books are great for parents to read to kids, teachers to read to students, and friends to read to new friends.
In my opinion, every school year should start with a song. When my students show up for the first day of school wearing their brand new shoes, you can bet I’ll be singing along with Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes. No need to be shy. We’re back to school and it’s all good!
Of course, some kids may be more enthusiastic than others. Clark the Shark has enough excitement for a whole class of kids, but his enthusiasm gets him into a bit of trouble. Then again, sometimes those are the kids that make the best of friends!
In Nuggett and Fang; Friends Forever- or snack time?, Nugget, a fish, is best friends with Fang, a shark. This unlikely friendship becomes problematic when Nugget begins fish school. He learns that sharks eat fish and should be avoided at all costs. It reminds me that sometimes we make friends in unexpected places. And you know what? Sometimes those are the best friendships!
But if your friends ever tell you “That is NOT a Good Idea!”, it might be best for you to heed their advice. When a sly wolf encounters a mother goose one day in town, the goslings warn that it’s not a good idea. Too bad no one listens. With all of the advice shared between new friends and old this year, hopefully our kids will know a bad idea when they see it.
School can be tough, especially when you don’t get along with someone in your class. Maybe you just don’t like that he’s different, like in Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. You do your best, but there’s always that one kid who seems to do it better, and all without even trying. Seeing things from another person’s point of view can be especially challenging.
You might know a Mine-O-Saur in your class, always claiming the best art supplies or recess equipment or snacks, all the while refusing to share with others. And some might even encounter a Big Bad Bullybug, the very thought of which makes kids nervous and apprehensive of doing anything to warrant unnecessary attention. I hope my kids will choose to be kind and to stand up for one another. And if they encounter a bully, I hope they find strength in their friends to stand up for what’s right.
In Bluebird, a boy who’s been teased by a gang of kids comes across a bluebird on his walk home from school. The persistent bluebird helps the boy to hold his head high, only to be injured by the same gang of kids. In the wordless story it’s plain to see how easy it is to be mean, but how important it is to be kind.
Some of our greatest memories and deepest friendships are formed during school. And with the new school year just beginning, there are lots of great adventures to come. Make sure you’ve got a great book on hand for the journey!
Recommended Back-to-School books:
- Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean
- Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale
- That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
- Nugget and Fang; Friends forever or snack time? by Tammi Sauer
- Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea
- Mine-o-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
- Big Bad Bullybug by Ed Emberly
- Bluebird by Bob Staake
- The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
- The Things I Can Do by Jeff Mack
- Charlie Goes to School by Ree Drummond
- Pirates Guide to Recess by James Preller
- What Floats in a Moat? by Lynne Berry
- Excuse Me: I’m Trying to Read! by Mary Jo Amani and Lehla Eldridge
Whenever possible, support independent bookstores. For more information, visit http://www.indiebound.org.
ABOUT MATTHEW – Matthew Winner is a teacher librarian for Howard County Public Schools in Maryland. In 2012 he was named MSET’s Maryland Outstanding Educator Using Technology and in 2013 Matthew was named a Library Journal Movers & Shakers Tech Leader. Matthew was honored at the White House as a Champions of Change panelist and he is the co-author of the upcoming book, Teach Math with the Wii (ISTE), published October 2013. Follow Matthew’s library adventures at BusyLibrarian.com or on Twitter at @MatthewWinner.