Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! I received several kind emails from readers about my daughter starting kindergarten in August, so I decided to review some of my favorite picture books about the first day of kindergarten. This week I made a list of back-to-school supplies and clothes she needs, and wow, is it long! And it will probably be expensive, sigh. At least we’ll no longer be paying for preschool!
Before I get to my reviews, let me tell you about one of Book Riot’s new podcasts! What do S.A. Cosby, Khaled Hosseini, Sarah Bakewell, and Yahdon Israel have in common? They’ve been guests on Book Riot’s newest podcast, First Edition, where BookRiot.com co-founder Jeff O’Neal explores the wide bookish world. Subscribe to hear them and stay to hear Book Riot’s editors pick the “it” book of the month
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A friend of mine was asking me about my “Support Your Local Library” tank top yesterday, and then I found a T-shirt version right when I logged into Etsy! $10+
Stand as Tall as the Trees by Patricia Gualinga & Laura Resau, illustrated by Vanessa Jaramillo (picture book)
Indigenous activist Gualinga of the Pueblo Kichwe de Sarayaku tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon teams up with children’s book author Laura Resau to tell the story of how she became an activist in this lovely nonfiction picture book. While Gualinga loves her rainforest home, she decides to go to high school in the city. There she tells Kichwa tales on the radio, but when she hears about men invading her homeland in search of oil, killing the forest and life within it in their greed, she returns. She finds the land barren and joins her people. They present a case to save the Amazanga to the Court of Human Rights, which rules in their favor. This is both lyrical and beautifully illustrated. Back matter includes more about the Kichwa and Indigenous activism around the world.
The Sharing Book by Dianne White, illustrated by Simone Shin (picture book)
This is an incredibly sweet picture book about friendship. The illustrations depict two best friends going on a camping trip with their families together. White’s lyrical story is a poem about the joys found in friendship and in sharing things with friends: “A hand is perfect for holding. / A smile is just right for hello. / A pinkie is waiting to promise and . . . / FRIENDS, best friends, are for sharing.” The two friends share meals, laughter, campfire stories and songs, and more.
In my list of new July children’s book releases for the main website, I also reviewed Dancing Hands, When Rubin Plays, and What a Map Can Do. For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!
Kindergarten is a big adjustment for kids, and every child will have different feelings about it. I still remember my first day of kindergarten, clinging to my mom’s legs and not wanting her to leave. While I felt scared — even though I’d been going to daycare all summer — my daughter is pumped. I wouldn’t be surprised if she blissfully runs into her classroom on the first day without looking back. But even for her, it’s going to be an adjustment, and I find reading books together is one of the best ways to prepare for changes. These are some of my favorite picture books about kindergarten.
Mina Belongs Here by Sandra Niebuhr-Siebert, illustrated by Lars Baus
Mina is a bit nervous about starting kindergarten in a new school where she doesn’t speak the same language as the other kids. But the kindergarten classroom and teacher are so warm and welcoming. When she comes home, she tells Mama all about school, and her dreams fill with things she learned that day. With each new day Mina makes friends and becomes more comfortable with school. Her stories and dreams become fuller and fuller with everything she’s learning and experiencing. This is a sweet, gentle story of belonging.
Mr. S by Monica Arnaldo
This is my daughter’s favorite picture book lately and we’ve read it so much I have it memorized! It is hilarious. When the kindergarteners walk in on their first day of school, all they find is a sandwich, a stack of papers, and a mug of coffee on the table. “Mr. S” is drawn on the chalkboard behind the table. The children eye one another, confused, and then the same question pops into all of their heads: could the sandwich be their teacher Mr. S??? Some children say “Why not!?” others aren’t so sure. Meanwhile, a man outside the window is having exceptionally bad luck as his car catches on fire. Readers of Arnaldo’s picture book Are You A Cheeseburger? will spy some Easter eggs in the illustrations. This is such a surprising picture book, and the children’s expressions are perfection!
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Written in the second person, this picture book portrays a young boy going to kindergarten for the first day of school. His mom calls him the “King of Kindergarten” and his dad comments on how much he’s grown. The child makes friends, learns the classroom rules, shares lunch, and dances before it’s time to head back home. I feel like this one and The Queen of Kindergarten are modern classics. They’re definitely essential reading for forthcoming kindergartners.
KINDergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day by Vera Ahiyya, illustrated by Joey Chou
Unlike the boy in The King of Kindergarten, Leo is feeling nervous and shy on the first day of school. The teacher sent all the students a letter asking them to think about how to show kindness in school so that the class can write a kindness pledge. But Leo hasn’t been able to think of anything. Despite his shyness, Leo is able to help others at school in small quiet ways throughout the day. At the end of the school, the teacher asks if anyone noticed kindness, and many students raise their hands and mention Leo. This is a sweet and reassuring picture book written by a kindergarten teacher.
We have a small patio garden where I planted a zucchini plant for the first time. I originally didn’t have it in a big enough pot so I had to replant it, but it seems to be doing better now! The flowers fell off two of the zucchini over the weekend, so we harvested them. So tiny! Hopefully we get some bigger ones too.
If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is email@example.com.
Until next time!