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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Books for starting school

COURTESY OF Lorna Bradbury

Ask Lorna: books for starting school

Lorna Bradbury picks out the best books to deal with your child's pre-school nerves

Emma Chichester Clark's 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo' (HarperCollins)
Emma Chichester Clark's 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo' (HarperCollins) 

Q My daughter is starting school next month. If I read one book to her over the coming weeks, what should it be?
Lottie, via email
A There are so many picture books aimed at children starting school, ranging from simple descriptions of the school day – books that are designed to generate a conversation between parent and child – to more sophisticated stories, often involving some of our best-loved characters.
Of the first set of books, my favourite by far is the Starting SchoolLadybird book from the Seventies, now sadly out of print. It introduces children to what they should expect – their coat peg and the class pet – using simple text accompanied by illustrations that could almost be taken for photographs.
It stands behind each of the new books: Starting School by Caryn Jenner and Arthur Robins (Franklin Watts), or Going to School by Anna Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright (Usborne) or, for slightly younger children, Going to Playschool by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln). My favourite of these is When an Elephant Comes to Schoolby Jan Ormerod (Frances Lincoln) which casts an elephant as the new boy, leading to some funny moments, particularly when it comes to messy play like paint and glue and bubbles.
If you’d like more of a story, though, three books stand out. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child (Orchard) is one of the less well known Charlie and Lola stories. It follows the usual pattern: Lola won’t do something, and Charlie persuades her that she should. In this case, she is worried about starting school and says she won’t go, and Charlie comes up with a series of reasons why she should, including that if she doesn’t, she won’t learn to write and won’t be able to send a letter to Father Christmas.
Shirley Hughes’s Bobbo Goes to School (Bodley Head) is about a bad-tempered girl, Lily, who throws her teddy into the air; he lands on the roof of the school bus and is whisked off to school. The children eventually find him in a tree during playtime, and Lily gets a glimpse of the school day when she comes to the classroom to collect him.
But my favourite is without a doubt Emma Chichester Clark’s new book in her series about Blue Kangaroo, which has been a huge favourite of my children. Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! (HarperCollins) is, like the Hughes story, about a girl called Lily and her special teddy. This time it’s Lily’s anxiety that is the subject – as usual, projected on to her toy. On Lily’s first day, Blue Kangaroo has a tummy ache, but he perseveres into the classroom, and Lily has such fun that she leaves him on the window sill when she goes home. In a magical twist, he spends the night doing all the things he had watched the children do – painting pictures, building towers, doing sums – and when Lily arrives the next morning she is confronted by the amazing results.
Please email your questions about children’s books to You can follow @lornabradbury on Twitter
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