A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Basic information about construction of schools -- pouring foundation, laying bricks -- and what happens in school: Kids arrive via school bus; concept of lockers; drinking fountains; playground. What kindergarten kids might expect: sitting on rug, fire alarms and drills, lunchtime in cafeteria. Information about squares, rectangles, and other shapes and what a janitor does.
The start of school (or any new venture) might be scary, but knowing what to expect helps you adjust. Others have the same fears you do. It's fun to learn new things. School isn't completely scary after all; it can be fun and exciting. Integrated schools are happy places, and kids of different races and backgrounds can be friends.
Positive Role Models
The school has worries and fears but expresses them clearly and so begins to work through them. At first the school takes the kids' negative comments personally, but as he gets to know the individual kids, he comes to understand and like them. The school takes pleasure in learning new things. The janitor is a helpful friend who listens to the school recount his day and experiences. The two enjoy each other's company.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that School's First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Newbery Award winner Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street), is about the anxieties and fears kids might face when they first start school, with a very clever twist: It's the school itself that's brand new and worried about the first day. This school has feelings kids will recognize and relate to, and the book provides realistic but reassuring information about what they might expect. (Will the school like the kids? At first he doesn't.) Robinson pictures a warm, diverse environment that's integrated racially and includes a girl in a wheelchair playing with a friend on the playground. This warm, sweet, funny book is an absolute perfect choice for kids about to venture off to school.
Is It Any Good?
In this perfectly pitched, emotionally resonant book, a school building worries about and adjusts to the arrival of kids and the first day of school and ends up looking forward to the second. The book introduces school routines -- sitting on a rug, eating in a cafeteria, fire drills, recess -- clueing kids in on what to expect. Throughout, the school's reactions are cleverly and recognizably "human" and leavened with gentle humor. At the water fountain, the school sprays a kid who says, "I hate school," but then the school feels bad about it. At lunch, one kid squirts milk out of his nose, and the school thinks, "Now I'm covered with nose milk." And the only real threat comes from some older kids who look bored and say things like, "This place stinks."
The school, Frederick Douglass Elementary ("That's a good name for me," thought the school), has a seamlessly integrated student body, and, as with most adjustments, it's a friend who helps most. The janitor proves to be the perfect friend -- a good listener who's gently reassuring.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.