The Class

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
The Class Book Poster Image
Relatable look at different kids getting ready for school.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Identifies the steps involved in going to first day of school: waking up, picking clothes, eating breakfast, traveling. Modes of transportation to get to school: school bus, walking, car. Introduces some new vocabulary in context: "shuffling," "nibble," "fashionista," "asphalt."

Positive Messages

Kids have a range of reactions to the start of school. Other kids share your excitement and/or your jitters. Going to the first day is a shared experience, even if you haven't yet met your classmates. Teachers and schools are welcoming. Families are supportive as you go off to new experiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

These are relatable kids with recognizable emotional reactions. The families are loving and supportive, taking pictures of the kids before they board the bus, smiling at them as they walk off, giving hugs. The teacher is smiling and looks friendly.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Class, by Boni Ashburn and illustrator Kimberly Gee, is a gently reassuring primer for kids who are anticipating their first day of school. It follows 20 diverse kids who make up a new class as they get ready on their first morning and troop off with a very human range of reactions. Some run off excitedly, others drag their feet. The examples are both reassuringly familiar and quirkily fun as kids pick out their clothes (a toe peeks out of a sock with holes), eat breakfast, and make their way to school by various means. By the time the kids gather together on the floor with their new teacher, all have smiles, however shy, and the implicit message is: Whatever your reaction to school, there are other kids feeling it, too -- and it all works out!

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What's the story?

In THE CLASS, 20 kids from diverse racial backgrounds get ready for school, each in his or her own unique way. They wake up -- some bright-eyed, some grumpy -- pick out their clothes, comb their hair, put on their shoes, eat their breakfasts, brush their teeth (or not), pack their backpacks, and travel to school by different means. When they arrive, the kids come together as a class, welcomed by a smiling, open-armed teacher.

Is it any good?

There's a sweet, homey feel to this book as it follows 20 kids with a range of recognizable personality types as they get ready for their first day of school, some with excitement, some with jitters. Mishaps -- a broken breakfast plate, a skinned knee -- occur, but it's all in a morning's work as they arrive at school, are greeted by their smiling, open-armed teacher, and come together to form The Class.

Author Boni Ashburn's rhyme rolls easily off the tongue, and she sprinkles it with kid-friendly humor: Some kids put on "day-old underwear," some look uncomfortable in "shirts their mothers chose," and Kimberly Gee's art is similarly warm, with lots of fun visual detail -- a toothbrush holder shaped like a turtle, mismatched socks. Does your kid wake up early or sleep through the alarm? Neatly lay out school clothes or grope under the bed for stray socks? Kids of all emotional stripes will find something to identify with in this affectionate portrait of a class that welcomes all comers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different personalities of the kids in The Class. Which kids do you identify with? Which kids are most like you?

  • How do you or did you feel about the first day of school -- excited, worried? 

  • What mishaps happen as the kids get ready? How do the kids solve the problems?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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