Monday, August 18, 2014

Time for Back to School ~By Suzy Leopold

A new school year with all it’s promises and possibilities, is around the corner. Soon the school bells will chime, and administrators and teachers will welcome eager and excited students.  

Many students are returning to the classroom this week.  More students will hear the school bells ring, as they enter the classroom, following Labor Day weekend in September. 

Back to school is a new beginning and a time for new learning in the classroom.  Many students, preschool through college, will soon pack a backpack or a satchel filled with school supplies, and be on their way to the classroom.

With great anticipation, all kids will experience a wide range of emotions on the first day of school.  From excitement and eagerness to uncertainty and nervousness, and many more. All of these feelings, are normal and to be expected.

There are many outstanding books that address the theme of back to school.  This theme includes excellent fiction and nonfiction literature.  I personally have book shelves filled with tote after tote of numerous picture books from both genres. Two of the totes are labeled as Back to School and September.  

Wish I could share my entire Back to School List of Books with you. However, this blog post would go on and on and on.  And then on some more! So, for now, I will make a few suggestions of some of my favorites.  This will be a challenge for me, as it is so hard to pick and choose, which ones I want to share with you.

The Kissing Hand 
By Audrey Penn  Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

As Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest, he began to cry.  “I don’t want to go to school,” he told his mother. Mrs. Raccoon encouraged Chester and told him that he will love school.  “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently.” Without spoiling the happy ending, Chester was sent to school with something special from mother as she tells him, “Now, do be careful not to lose it.” 

Last year, our daughter in law, Candon, read The Kissing Hand to our sweet grands, Lily and Lane. Lily was ready for preschool. Lane not so much.  On the first day of school, Candon painted two hearts [heart stickers could be used] on everybody’s hands. There were two hearts [from Mommy and Daddy] on each of the kids’ hands and then two hearts [of the kids’] painted on the hands of Daddy and Mommy’s. The girls chose pink hearts and the boys chose purple hearts. A picture was snapped with all four hands connected.

The Three Friends Go to School
By Tomie dePaola

Who doesn’t love stories and fun illustrations by Tomie dePaola?  Kids will delight in the simple text about Kim, Billy and Alex. Read to find out what their favorite book genres are.

The Night Before Kindergarten
By Natasha Wing Illustrated by Julie Durrell

Written using the story format of The Night Before Christmas, this lively book filled with luscious language is an excellent choice for boys and girls entering kindergarten. ”Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared, kids were excited and a little bit scared.”While preparing for school, the kids have so many questions.  What will kindergarten will be like? Will my teacher be nice? Young readers will find the answers in this book. 

Leo the Late Bloomer
By Robert Kraus Pictures by José Aruego
“Leo  couldn’t do anything right.” He couldn’t read, write or draw.  This book is a great reminder of the gift of time that is needed for students to bloom.  As an educator that doesn’t mean we should just wait for time.  We must give children the tools they need for literacy.  An effective teacher must make accommodations for diverse learning styles.

My Teacher is a Dinosaur
Written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy
This back to school themed book contains prehistoric poems, jokes, riddles and amazing facts.  

My Teacher is a Dinosaur

My teacher is a dinosaur, but I’m not sure which one --
could she be Gallimimus, who was always on the run?

She herds our class along each day like Protoceratops,
and like a T. rex hunting lunch, she hardly ever stops.

She might be Andesaurus, who could search both high and low.
she digs just like Mononykus for facts that we should know.

She has a Gorgosaurus smile that we cannot ignore --
she MUST be Microraptor since she wants our minds to soar.

Q: Why didn’t the mammoth work in the school cafeteria?
A:  The hairnets weren’t big enough!

?: They chewed up new leaves in the spring, a few of them had a bad sting, each one had six legs, they laid piles of eggs, and some tried to go on the wing. What are they?
!: Insects!  They were the first creatures on Earth that could fly.

Read All About It!
By Laura Bush and Jenna Bush
Illustrated by Denise Brunkus
Tyrone Brown is on his way to Good Day Elementary School.  He is a professional student and the class clown and thinks that he rules the school. Tyrone does not despise books, he just does not prefer them. Every day after lunch, Miss Libro reads to the class, but Tyrone thinks he can use his time more wisely than listen to the read aloud. Read to find out what changes.

This is the Way We Go to School
By Edith Baer Illustrated by Steve Björkman

This book takes readers on a journey around the world depicting the many ways kids travel to school.  Some students travel by train, cable car or even by boat. Read to find out how Jenny, Jerry, Pete and Perry ride the Staten Island Ferry in New York. Niels and Solveig go on skis to their school in Norway.  There are so many ways to travel to school, as the story takes us through six continents.

Just one more book, OK? Sure wish I could share many more!

Boomer Goes to School
By Constance W. McGeorge Illustrated by Mary Whyte

Boomer finds going to school just a little bit confusing.  He spends the day with his new friends and finds out that school is a great place.  Boomer meets many friends, learns to share, paints pictures and best of all enjoyed lunch.  Such an endearing picture book.  

This story reminds me of our family pet that we said good bye to about a year ago. His name was Boomer, too.  We are thankful for our time with Boomer and hold his memory in our hearts.
Boomer 2000~2013
Do you note any familiar books that are your favorites? Perhaps you see some new picture books that you want to add to your list to read. 

Look for these books at your local Indie bookstore or library. Share the love of reading with kids.  

Hip, hip, hooray!  It’s time for back to school. It’s time to learn and grow.  All the best for success during the 2014~2015 school year.  

I picked this flower just for you from my prairie garden. 


  1. Love your sort about the KISSING HAND and the hearts you all painted on your hands, Suzy! Boomer is a classic, too, and your Boomer looks so sweet. Sorry he is gone. Boomer and my Iris are playing and frapping at the Rainbow Bridge.

    1. Kathy: I know you understand how grandparents love to share stories about the grands, as you do, too about Tobin and baby to be! Pa Perry & Oma Sue love their seven, sweet grandkids. So, we have something else in common, correct? Pets with the same name of Boomer! How cool is that! Make sure Boomer and Iris are given extra treats today.

  2. What a great list of back to school books! Many of these have soothed the hearts of my students over the years. Thanks for sharing them!

    1. Todd: Perhaps you have many of these books on the shelves at your school library. It is so amazing to see the excitement of the kids as they return to school each year. All the best for a successful 14~15sy.

  3. I love back-to-school books and have a collection as well from my teaching days. Aren't they so fun?

    1. Tina: There are so many outstanding back to school themed books, as you well know. Does your collection include any of the titles that I featured? Perhaps it is time for your kids to return to school, also. All the best.

  4. Appreciation for opening up your shelves & book bags for Back to School & September Garden Girl Suzy. Chester Raccoon & his Mom are my fave for kissing away the jitters. And your daughter-in-law Candon is totally adorable with her heartfelt hand-painting (could be sticker) love art. I saw other old friends such as Late Bloomer Leo in the titles & new title friends I've just begun to get to know thru this article.
    Thank you so much for sharing sweet Boomer's image, too. Whether it's this week or a bit later, it is truly time to be thinking clean desks, new teachers, new classrooms & new BOOKS.

    1. Hi Jan: Knowing that some of my favorite books are your favorite books warms my heart. Chester, Boomer and Leo are such great book characters. Yes, Candon is a sweetheart. Happy reading of new and cherished books. Warmly, Garden Girl Suzy

  5. Wow, Suzy, what a great list! Some of my favorites are Kevin Henkes' books, especially OWEN, in which the main character is faced with the prospect of giving up his beloved blanket when he goes to school.

  6. Thank you, Patty. Yes! Another excellent book for this time of the year. I have the book Owen by Kevin Henkes! Now you make me wonder which tote it may be in. It is not in the *Back to School* or *September* book totes. Perhaps I gave the book to grandson, Henry Owen.

  7. Suzy, wonderful titles. Thank you. When my daughter went to Kindergarten, I had to cut a small square of her blanket to keep in her pocket--so she would be brave! :)

    1. Janie: What a sweet memory! Perhaps your daughter will carry on the tradition if she is a Momma. Thank you for sharing how you encouraged your daughter to be brave for Kindergarten. ~Suzy