Going back to school after a long summer break can be really exciting for kids, but also, a little bit scary. They get to see all of their friends again, but will they like their new teacher? What if their best friend is in a different classroom? Will they get more homework this year?
We asked the authors and illustrators of our favorite picture books with back-to-school themes about their own experience with this major transition. Read below, and be sure to check out their books to get little ones ready for day one!
Perfect by Max Amato
Why is Perfect a good back-to-school read?
Max Amato: Going back-to-school can be nerve-wracking! New teachers, new classes, new challenges—it can feel like there is a lot of pressure not to make mistakes. Perfect is a good back-to-school read because it reminds us to loosen up, have fun with ourselves and others, and to embrace all the newness with a sense of joy and curiosity instead of fear.
What did you like about going back to school?
MA: For me the best part of going back to school was crisp, fresh, never-before-used art supplies. Sharp pencils, colorful markers, unopened glue sticks, and brand new erasers, all just waiting for me to go crazy.
How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Why is How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? a good back-to-school read?
Jane Yolen: It consolidates things that I, as a child, and my three children learned about reading (though of course none of us looked like a dinosaur!). Most importantly, it points out that learning to read can be approached in a fun way, with rhythm, rhyme, and DINOSAURS!
Do you have any advice on how to assuage the back-to-school jitters?
JY:How does a dino kid
really get rid
of the back-to-school fright?
Make lists and practice
This old dino remembers
when she was small.
If you are prepared,
you will have
no jitters at all.
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds
Why is The Word Collector a good back-to-school read?
Peter H. Reynolds: Every school, year students are deluged (great word!) with words they read, they hear, they see, and that they are asked to learn. I want kids to start the year off seeing words as marvelous treasures to be collected, to savor, to connect with personally. Word collecting is a joyful quest, not a rote task. Dive in to the sea of words with your net and have fun!
Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why?
PHR: Well, I had many great teachers, including some mentors in Boy Scouts, so it is hard to choose just one. My 7th grade math teacher, Mr. Matson, invited me to use my art and storytelling to teach math, which ended up becoming an animated film by the end of the year. That was an incredible experience. Through it, I met Jim Morrow, the media teacher at the high school who was a sci-fi writer, game designer and comic book collector. His wife Jean also became a mentor—she taught film and media and encouraged me greatly. Turns out that cool teachers hang out with each other, and through Jim and Jean, my twin brother and I became friends with a cadre of creative teachers, each who inspired us in different ways. They treated us like smart humans—not students—and in fact, we were all on a first name basis: Bonnie, Risa, Dan, Linda, Steve, Rol... the list goes on. Their inspiration ripples on!