Picture Book Month: School

Using the Picture Book Month Calendar, I am going to post five favorite picture books of mine for each day of November. Today’s theme is school.

Maybe I’m partial because I’ve worked in schools for eight years, but school stories make excellent picture books. School stories can reassure kids when they’re starting in a new place. They can celebrate learning at every step. They show a child’s fear and can make us tear with laughter.

School picture books can build a sense of community in a classroom. This year I was blessed to start off visiting over half the classrooms on the first day of school to read. I loved getting into rooms right away so the children and I could interact positively with laughs and a smile.

The first picture book I fell in love with was a concept book where Winnie-the-Pooh went to school. I had to find which hats each character needed for a costume, look at letters and numbers. Sadly, the book is packed away back home and the title escapes me tonight. That book was poured over again and again. It was used to play school.

There are memorable children’s picture book series set at school. Mr. Ratburn shows up in many of the Arthur books. There’s the irrepressible, unforgettable Ms. Frizzle with her cries of “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!” in the Magic School Bus series. I’d love a school bus that could take my students anywhere, anywhen in any shape. Franklin and Froggy make school appearances as well. David Shannon’s David goes to school as well.

School picture books bring to mind Harry Allard’s Miss Nelson is Missing where soft, kind Miss Nelson is replaced by the cantankerous Viola Swamp. Swamp gets called back in Miss Nelson has a Field Day. The substitute in this year’s Substitute Creacher also gave a classroom of rowdy children pause.

1. Pete the Cat: Rockin In My School Shoes by Eric Litwin is sure to result in random outbursts of songs, toe-tapping and grins. Pete’s new to his school, but does he worry about it? Goodness no!

2. Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis. Dexter and his stuffed dog Rufus are starting kindergarten. Rufus is terrified.

3. Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray is a fun twist on a familiar story. My enrichment kids enjoyed creating their own versions of this book using gingerbread mascots they drew.

4. Sea Monster’s First Day by Kate Messner. Sometimes students need to see someone completely unlike them doing the same thing. In this case, the new students starting school isn’t even human! Ernest has some of the same worries though as new students on land – who to play with, what to do, and more.

5. How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills. While Rocket the dog doesn’t learn to read from a bird in a traditional school house, it is a beautiful learning story to share aloud.

Mentioned on a previous Picture Book Month post is Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate as all as If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff. Actually, I think half the books from the day mice were featured were school stories with Chrysanthemum and Owen also featuring school.

What school books are on your radar as ones you need to read?

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2 thoughts on “Picture Book Month: School

  1. I always read A Fine, Fine School each start of the school year to my third graders. It’s such a fine, fine book, written by a fine, fine author (Sharon Creech) and illustrated by a fine, fine illustrator (Harry Bliss).