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The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! Book Poster Image
Fresh, wacky take on first-day-of school jitters.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows the kinds of things kids encounter at school: numbers. letters, backpacks, finger paint, books, a playground, and identifies common worries: What if I don't like school? What if the teacher doesn't like my kind? "What will the other birds think of me?" What will happen at school?"

Positive Messages

It's OK to be scared of a new experience. Teachers will help you learn things. There will be others at school to work and play with.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pigeon starts out resistant and thinks he knows everything, but comes around to the idea that there will be things to learn at school and it could actually be fun. He also admits he's scared, modeling that it's OK to feel and express your feelings.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mo Willem's The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! features the beloved star of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and other funny picture books. This one captures the kinds of anxieties a kid can feel about going to school for the first time: What if I don't like it? What if the teacher doesn't like me? The story is silly and relatable, and the illustrations are a kick as they emphasize the bird's fretting and his one giant eye. 

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What's the story?

As the book opens, Pigeon tells readers not to read the title, which states, THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL! Then he questions why he has to, especially since "I already know EVERYTHING!" He wonders, "WHAT IF I LEARN TOO MUCH!?! My head might pop off." He confesses, "The unknown stresses me out, dude." He finally comes around, but wonders how he'll get there ... until he sees the famous yellow school bus from a previous book. 

Is it any good?

This rollicking, funny take on first-day-of-school jitters gets at the fears and concerns kids have that can make them not want to go at all. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! identifies so many worries -- from heavy backpacks to finger paint that might stick to his feathers to getting a teacher who doesn't like pigeons  -- and they all get the zany Mo Willems touch, while respecting kids' real anxieties. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pre-school jitters shown in The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! Do you get nervous before going into a new situation? Do you remember how you felt on your first day of daycare or preschool or kindergarten? 

  • Have you read other Pigeon books? How do you ike this one compared with those? Which one is your favorite? 

  • Does drawing Pigeon with just one eye showing make his character funnier? Try drawing you own brd or animal. Would you give it one eye or two? 

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