Back to School Books for the Youngest Students

By Lee Littlewood

August 5, 2013 5 min read

Many young children harbor apprehensions about the beginning of the school year. Reading reassuring books about school can help them anticipate the start of class with excitement and self-esteem.

"My New Teacher and Me!" by Al Yankovic; illustrations by Wes Hargis; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $17.99.

Just knowing that Weird Al Yankovic penned a new children's book was enough to peak my interest. After all, humor and zaniness always make kids feel more at ease, so the timing is perfect.

Al prides himself on seeing the world slightly askew and forecasts that view upon young Billy, a small boy with a big imagination. When Billy discovers his new teacher is the very strict, "by the books" Mr. Booth, he challenges him with exotic stories sizzling with adventure and myth — "For instance, this friend of my third cousin Ned's, got a farm where the dairy cows each have two heads. That's so 'highly unlikely' the tourists all stop, just to take their own pictures, at three bucks a pop!"

Mr. Booth, of course, is highly irritated at Billy's stories, but he begins to ease up when Billy reminds him that, "every great thinker and leader we got, could see all kinds of things other people could not."

A fun tribute to imagination and seeing the world with originality, Yankovic's zesty, rhyming tale is a blast to read aloud. Its' action-filled, cartoonish illustrations offer plenty of extra fun.

"Chamelia and the New Kid in Class" by Ethan Long; Little, Brown & Co., 34 pages; $16.99.

Appealing illustrations created with digital collage, using photographs and samples of Alexander Henry Fabrics, bring to life the sassy Chamelia, always used to being the star. Chamelia tells her friends about her summer vacation through song and dance, so she's dismayed with a new boy arrives who quickly steals everyone's attentions.

Cooper wins at soccer and art, and it's not until Chamelia too appreciates the boy's amazing rock collection that she realizes there's room in the spotlight for both.

Succinctly penned with standout artwork and a charming storyline about friendship and sharing attention, Long's colorful tale wins.

"Bobbo Goes to School" by Shirley Hughes; Candlewick Press; 32 pages; $16.99.

Preschoolers often have the hardest times starting school. In the prolific Hughes' new picture book, little Lily throws her beloved stuffed toy on top of the school bus and worries she'll never see it again. Bobbo, on the other hand, has the time of his life and is rescued from a tree by the schoolchildren, who cherish him until he finds his way back to Lily.

A universal tale of missing a "lovey," coupled with an introduction to the charms of a classroom, make "Bobbo Goes to School" a sensitive, down-to-earth tale for preschoolers. Hughes' detailed artwork perfectly captures that snapshot in time.

"Amelia Bedelia's First Library Card" by Herman Parish; pictures by Lynne Avril; Greenwillow Books; 32 pages; $17.99.

Hooray for books! That's the theme of this zippy Amelia Bedelia picture book. Amelia and her class take a trip to the library and get their very first library cards. But things get turned topsy-turvy quickly, and Amelia throws her empty juice box into the book return slot, accidentally gets a book about weather instead of cupcakes, and that book gets rain damage.

Understandably, Amelia is very upset and worries she'll never be allowed another library card. But things work out, and the librarian is very happy someone enjoys books as much as Amelia.

Amelia Bedelia has been a favorite of girls since 1963. Now, younger Amelia (in a picture book format aimed at 5- to 8-year-olds), is introduced. What a winning idea!

KIDBITS

The adorable Posey returns to make little girls happy in "Princess Posey and the New First Grader," by Stephanie Green, (Putnam, 85 pages, $12.99). Ree Drummond's "Charlie Goes to School," (Harper, 32 pages, $17.99), sends ranch dog Charlie to head up his own "school" with other animals as students.

"Too Much Glue" by Jason Lefebvre (Flashlight Press, 32 pages, $16.95), is a hilarious school romp about a boy who overuses, to put it mildly, his glue bottle. Next, numbers think they're the stars in "123 Versus ABC," by Mike Boldt, (Harper, 32, $17.99), but letters disagree!

To find out more about Lee Littlewood and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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