Back-to-School Picture Books for Young Readers

Whether entering school for the first time and starting kindergarten or just going back for another school year, emotions can be mixed. A clever group of picture books explores those feelings, and one even shares ideas for the perfect class pet.

Two books share a theme of children reluctant to go to school. In “Super Saurus Saves Kindergarten” by Deborah Underwood, Arnold is convinced that his teacher is really Zorgo the Evil Genius. His sister tries to convince him otherwise. But Arnold knows that he can handle anything, because he is SUPER SAURUS! What Arnold finds out is that Dino Tykes Elementary School is just fine. Kids will giggle at the clever illustrations by Ned Young show the teacher, with scary mask and armor, just as Arnold imagines. But the next page shows the actual (dinosaur) teacher with spiky black hair and goatee, shirt and tie. The alternate realities make this book a fun one to read to youngsters. Which page shows what is really going on and which shows Arnold’s super imagination? And when their classroom is invaded by a super scary T-Rex (or is it a hungry lizard?), Super Saurus knows just what to do to get the invader under control. This is a book kids will definitely want to read over and over — just for laughs. (Disney-Hyperion Books)

fall is forAlong the same line, “Fall is for School” by author and illustrator Robert Neubecker has a child who is not at all excited about the coming of Fall and the return to school. His enthusiastic younger sister, though, points out all the fun and interesting things that they do in school. After hearing about pumpkin drops, studying mummies, dinosaurs, and even recess, her older brother admits that his baby sister might just know what she is talking about. Neubecker writes with rhyme that makes it a fun book to read aloud. (Disney Hyperion Books)

“K is for Kindergarten” by Erin Dealey is an A to Z book filled with cute rhyme and A to Z activities for kindergarteners, such as looking at a calendar to see how many days until school starts, and tips for reading (“When an adult reads you a book, have them run a finger under each word as they read. You try it too!”) It might just be a fun book for a kindergarten teacher to read out loud to the class! (Sleeping Bear Press)

k is for

And last, but certainly not least, is “The Teacher’s Pet” by Anica Mrose Rissi. Mr. Stricter the teachers petdecides to keep one of the frogs the class hatches as a science project. He chooses the frog that definitely does not look like the other frogs. In fact, it looks like a little hippo. When the other tadpoles are released to the wild, the class names the keeper tadpole Bruno. While he was the last frog to hatch and the smallest, he grew quickly. He loved to eat markers and scissors and books. Bruno topped out at the size of a hippo. Mr. Stricter loved Bruno, but the class was not as enamored. They complained about his snoring during silent reading and his farting during show-and-tell. But Mr. Stricter wouldn’t listen. What Bruno does next has even Mr. Stricter listening when the students tell him it’s time to release Bruno into the wild. And the students are there to make sure that the next class pet is an appropriate one. The illustrations by Zachariah Ohora are perfectly bright and cheerful and will make everyone laugh.

A minor quibble is that the new classroom pet comes from a pet supply store. Many picture books instead choose to show animals getting adopted from a rescue. And even mice, rats and gerbils are available through animal rescue groups. Also, in the window of the pet supply store? Puppies. Ouch. This could be a golden opportunity for teachers or adults reading the book to point out that rather than buying the new pet from a store, they might have gone to a rescue to adopt one. (Disney Hyperion Books)



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