The King of Kindergarten

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The King of Kindergarten Book Poster Image
Fun tale pictures a kid's royally good first day of school.

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

Educational Value

Shows what goes on the first day of kindergarten, from taking the school bus to learning classroom rules to hearing about shapes numbers, and the alphapbet, to eating in the cafeteria, meeting your teacher and classmates, naptime, and the all-important recess. 

Positive Messages

"Hold your head high and greet everyoe with a brilliant, magestic smile." It takes bravery to ask up to someone you don't know to play with you. It's cool to share with new freinds. "Be Awesome." "We Are Kind to Each Other." Recess "is the best thing ever!"

Positive Role Models & Representations

The boy's African American parents are loving and encouraging. His Afrcan American teacher is kind and fun-loving. His diverse classmates are nice and respectful.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The King of Kindergarten is by Derrick Barnes, author of the Caldecott Honor book Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut, and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. It joyously predicts a fun, fabulous first day in kindergarten, addressing the little boy main character with royal respect. It's a great confidence-builder for anyone approaching that big day with anxiety, fear, or suspicion. And it paints an all-around positive picture of going to school and making new friends. The African American teacher and main character and his diverse classmates make this a fine choice for families looking for books featuring characters of color. 

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What's the story?

A boy wakes up and sits on his bed and his mommy tells him today he's "going to be THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN!" He goes into the bathroom and brushes "Ye Royal Chiclets" and, says the narrator, "You'll dress yourself neatly in handpicked garments from the far-off villages of Osh and Kosh. B'gosh! You're ready to reign!" The narrator's royal spin on the experience continues throughout the day as the boy takes "a big yellow carriage" (the schoolbus) to school and grabs a "royal seat at your round table," learns the classroom rules, plays a game of fighting a fire-breathing dragon at recess, has "a royal rest," and gets a send-off from his teacher, who will "wish you all a magnificent evening and bid you farewell until dawn."

Is it any good?

This enthusiastic, uplifitng story of a boy's first day of kindergarten layers on the kingly language to make it fresh and boost confidence. Addressing the boy as The King of Kindergarten gives him the you-got-this assurance he needs to enter a new situation with new rules to learn, a new teacher to face, and new classmates to meet. It's fun and infectious as the boy approaches this new world with bravery and kindness, as a benevolent king surely would. And Vanessa Brantley-Newton's perky illustrations keep the action bouncing along and capture the spirit of joy and accomplishment. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the first day of kindergarten looks in The King of Kindergarten. What makes it seem like it will be a day full of fun? 

  • Why do you think the narrator talks to the boy as if he were king? How does that help him face a new situation that could feel a little scary? 

  • The narrator tells the boy he'll be brave at recess to ask a classmate to play with him. Does it take courage to talk to someone you don't know? What's scary about it? Is it hard or easy for you to make friends on the playground? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love school stories

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