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  Countdown to Kindergarten:
Books to Make the Going Easier
  by Jeanne Duffey for Parent + Family
In This Review

Countdown to Kindergarten

Little Miss Spider at Sunny Patch School

Wemberly Worried

Chicken Chickens Go to School

More Reviews

As adults, we deal with so many stressful issues in our lives—from finding and keeping a job to making ends meet financially—that we tend to underestimate the experiences that may make a child anxious. Children need help with dealing with new experiences, and, as newbies, they have a lot of “firsts.”

The first day of school is a humdinger. It’s a huge event in both of your lives. You have the responsibility to prepare them for this important milestone. Reading books on the subject to your soon-to-be kindergartener is an ideal way to provide reassurance.

Take Countdown to Kindergarten by Allison McGhee. Ten days before school starts, the black-haired moppet in the brightly colored, appealing illustrations drawn by Harry Bliss, an award-winning cartoonist and cover artist for The New Yorker, realizes “I am in Big Trouble.”

She’s heard from a first-grader that there are a lot of rules at school and one is that you must know how to tie your shoes. If she doesn’t learn in ten days, she’s afraid she’ll have to wear a sign that reads “Velcro Girl.” Panic sets in, but everything works out in the end. The irreverent text and illustrations are enjoyable for both the beginning student and parents.

Luminescent oil paintings and sparkling simple rhymes are hallmarks of David Kirk’s Little Miss Spider books. This one, Little Miss Spider at Sunny Patch School, ninth in the series, deals with the fear children face about the first day at school.

Little Miss Spider, an appealing big-eyed insect, is having trouble mastering her new lessons. “She found she lacked talent/for hiding in trees,/for chirping like crickets/or humming like bees.” But her wise principal knew she had a talent for the greatest gift of all.

Some children’s books strike a chord with parents, too. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes addresses the issue of incessant and unconstructive worries and anxiety. Wemberly, a cute little mouse child carrying a stuffed bunny, worries about everything, the crack in the living room wall, the noise the radiators make, her doll Petal.

And more than anything, she worries about the start of school. “What if they make fun of my name? What if I can’t find the bathroom? What if I hate the snack? What if I have to cry?” These are all legitimate concerns that your kindergartener may have on her mind, too.

Making friends at school is a worry. Valeri Gorbachev addresses the subject in her book, Chicken Chickens Go to School. The friendly and charming illustrations depict a world of animals living in a human world.

Mrs. Heron the teacher assures Mother Hen’s two chicks that they will make friends quickly. The first experiences of the chicken students don’t bear that out until the very end when they find out that it takes a little time to be friends with Rabbit, Beaver and Frog.

Check out these titles at any Springfield-Greene County Library or ask a librarian for more books on the subject.

Countdown to Kindergarten by Allison McGhee
Little Miss Spider at Sunny Patch School by David Kirk
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Chicken Chickens Go to School by Valeri Gorbachev
-Jeanne Duffey is Community Relations Director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District.
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