The Museum Blog

Category: Books We Love

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

The Caldecott Medal in the 1940's

In the first entry of our November Family Literacy Month series, we explored the origins of the Caldecott Medal (Why are there blackbirds on one side of the medal and a horse on the other? Who illustrated a medal for illustrators? Who sculpted said medal?) and shined the spotlight on two of the earliest illustrators, and their respective works, to be honored by the Caldecott Award committee. OUr hope is that readers will reacquaint themselves with illustrators and books that they once cherished while also finding new books to add to the rich fabric of their family's literary tapestry. Join us as we leave the dustbowl behind and jump into a decade where radio was still king, rubber was considered a luxury item, and Jeep, Frisbee and Tupperware all make their grand debut . . .


Who: Louis Slobodkin (born in Albany, NY, 1903)

Book: Many Moons / Harcourt, Brace & Company / 1943

Writer: James Thurber

Plot: A lonely Princess decides that she wants the moon. She must have the moon. Her father, the King, demands that his court acquire it for her. Understandably, there are difficulties with the young princess's demanding request. Can the lowly Court Jester succeed in helping the Princess where the Royal Wizards, the Lord High Chamberlin and the Court Mathematician could not?


Misc: In 1943, Slobodkin brought life to James Thurber's words in Many Moons, although that wasn't an area Thurber often needed help with. Thurber (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) was a celebrated humorist, playwright, author, editor and cartoonist. Instead of using his own drawings for his tale of a forlorn Princess, Slobodkin's sparse, sketched out art was employed. Harcourt, Brace & Company clearly made the correct choice as it earned Thurber the Caldecott Medal the following year. After Many Moons, (also sold as The Princess that Wanted the Moon) Thurber went on to write numerous short stories as well as continue to contribute to The New Yorker alongside his friend and fellow writer E.B. White (who also knew a thing or two about children's books). Slobodkin went on to write and illustrate his own children's science fiction mini-franchise of books known as The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree series from 1952's eponymous first entry through 1972's final entry The Spaceship Returns to the Park.

Availability: In a strange move, the publisher commissioned a new artist, Marc Simont, and re-released the book in the mid-90's. Re-illustrating a book, especially to gain more attention when it's reissued is commonplace in the publishing world (see the works of Roald Dahl and L. Frank Baum for two famous examples), but it's quite rare to replace the illustrations of a Caldecott-winner. Simont, however, was no slouch. A multiple Caldecott Honoree and Medal Winner, Simont had also illustrated Thurber's popular children's book The 13 Clocks in 1950 after being personally asked to do so by Thurber himself. Luckily, if you're interested in Slobodkin's vision of the lunar loving Princess, it's still readily available in book stores and online. Note: Does your family have any copies of Slobodkin's Spaceship entries? If so, you may want to protect them. Depending on the condition of these beloved, but sadly out-of-print books, used paperback copies often start around $100 online. That's right - used paperback copies. If you have any new copies that happen to be laying around, you may even be able to build your own spaceship, as they are listed at approximately $2,000 and up online.




Who: Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. - Dr. Seuss (born in Springfield, MA, 1904)

Book: McElligot's Pool / Random House / 1947

Writer: Geisel

Plot: Young Marco has high hopes that he'll catch a fish in the local pond. But this isn't just any pond - oh, no, this is McElligot's Pool, which one of the locals reminds Marco is one of the most polluted, garbage-filled, fish-unfriendly bodies of water around. This summation of the cold, hard facts does not deter Marco. He is determined to catch a fish in McElligot's Pool. Be it goldfish, trout, or - fueled by his vivid imagination regarding not only the length and depth of McElligot's Pool but of its denizens - checkerboard patterned fish, a more equine-than-usual seahorse or a multi-headed eel.


MisMcGprop.png?mtime=20151112235250#asset:3c: Seuss published five books within three years of each other, from 1937's And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street through 1940's Horton Hatches the Egg. After this flurry of writing/publishing activity, Seuss didn't release his next book, McElligot's Pool, until seven years later. To be fair, most of the modern world was put on hold from 1940-1945 thanks to the war, and Seuss was no exception. He wrote and drew hundreds of political cartoons during World War II, many of which directly attacked foreign leaders including Hitler and Mussolini, while also saving room to lambaste former American hero Charles Lindbergh for his questionable views on the foreign policy future of the United States. McElligot marked the return of Seuss's earliest protagonist, Marco, from Mulberry Street. It also marked Seuss's first time using watercolors, opposed to his usual pen and ink method, to illustrate his story. Random House loved the new, multi-textured look with colors from each spot of the spectrum, but were wary of the costs involved in publishing a book of its length with full color watercolor prints. They compromised by alternating between black and white pages and fully painted pages. Instead of upsetting the balance of the book's beauty, the sharp, monochromatic pages only help in making the rich watercolors jump and swim off the page. Despite being considered one of the most beautifully rendered of all of the Seuss books, McElligot's Pool was a Caldecott Honoree but did not win the Medal, instead seeing it awarded to Roger Duvoisin for his work in White Snow, Bright Snow. Unlike many other works by Seuss, McElligot's Pool did not receive a major adaptation, though the basic language and text of the story was reproduced in 2000 though the song "It's Possible" from Act I of Seussical: The Musical. Veering from the narrative slightly, the musical recasts the role of Marco to a Who named JoJo. Remarkably, though two more Seuss books would go on to receive Caldecott Honors (1950's Bartholomew and the Oobleck and 1951's If I Ran the Zoo), Geisel was never awarded the Caldecott Medal.

Availability: Readily available online and at your local library or book store!

Continue reading

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

The Caldecott Medal in the 1930's

We're taking a look back at the history of the Caldecott Medal. This series of blogs, titled "Four & Twenty Blackbirds", receives its name from one of the engravings on the actual prize Medal given out for the best children's book illustrations.

At the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, we know how important reading is to the learning process. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

"If we encounter a man with rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads."

The same can be applied to families. If you encounter a knowledgeable, humorous family with a large vocabulary and an even larger imagination, you should ask them what books they read. Don't be surprised when you find numerous Caldecott Medal Winners & Caldecott Medal Honorees on their list.


CaldecottMEDAL.jpg?mtime=20151104161709#

The Caldecott Medal - named after 19th Century illustrator Randolph Caldecott - was designed by American artist Rene Paul Chambellan in 1937. The front, and most recognizable side of the medal, is taken from Caldecott's cover illustration of The Diverting History of John Gilpin from 1878. The picture of the titular Gilpin riding his horse is the image emblazoned upon all books that are chosen as Caldecott winners and honorees. The back of the medal is from Caldecott's illustration of the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence, specifically the line, "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie".

After nearly eighty years of illustrators being chosen by the American Library Association as either a Caldecott Medal Honor book (which, in our estimation, is a much more prestigious designation than "Nominee" or "Runner-up") or Caldecott Medal Winner, over 300 books have been lucky enough to receive the extra appreciation and recognition for their beautiful, sumptuous, stark, lush, mesmerizing and wondrous illustrations. But for every Seuss, Sendak and McCloskey, whose works have stayed in the public eye via re-printings, adaptations, etc., there's a Slobodkin, Yashima and McDermott whose works still remain as award-worthy as they were decades ago even if they've fallen out of the spotlight.

Taking inspiration from the backside of the prestigious medal, we'll be spending some time here on our blog looking at different artists who have been recognized by the fifteen member Caldecott committee. Let's look at some of the best children's book illustrations that each decade has to offer, starting in the first decade the Medal was awarded.


Thomas HandforthWho: Thomas Handforth (born in Tacoma, WA, 1897)

Book: Mei Li / Doubleday / 1938

Writer: Handforth

Plot: Set in Peiping (then current name of Beijing), China, Mei Li and her brother San Yo sneak out of their home to attend the New Year's Eve fair. Mei Li strives to show San Yo that girls can do - or at least should be allowed to do - all the things that boys can do. Young Mei Li arrives home to greet the Kitchen God who may somehow be connected to the mysterious words of the fortune teller at the fair.

Misc: Mei Li was the second book to ever win the Caldecott Medal. Handforth, mostly recognized as an artist specializing in lithographs, ultimately illustrated only six picture books for children in his short lifetime. Handforth had spent a significant amount of time in China and was familiar not only with the fashions and culture of the rural Chinese family that appear so prominently in the book, but had also seen first hand the disparity in social opportunities between the genders - even in the very young. Many early 20th Century books, even those recognized by the Caldecott committee, have an unfortunate take on non-American cultures, employing language considered too coarse by 2015 standards. This makes Mei Li, a story about gender inequality with a Chinese female protagonist, even more progressive than one expects. The book was lauded when it was first published for the detailed black and white ink drawings as well as Handforth's propensity for having the characters and their surroundings "spill" out of the "frame".

Availability: Out of Print. Copies range from $30-$80 depending on hardcover, softcover, edition and condition.



If you'd like to learn more about Handforth, Mei Li and his other works, please read Kathleen T. Horning's thorough and illuminating look at not only at the choice to honor Mei Li, but the inception of the Caldecott as an award.








Who: James Daugherty (born in Asheville, NC, 1889)

Book: Andy and the Lion / E.M. Hale & Company / 1938

Writer: Daugherty

Plot: An updated version of the classic Androcles and the Lion - a short story that pre-dates Aesop! Taking place near a rural American farm pre-WWII, Andy comes across a lion on his way to school. The lion has a thorn in his paw and is in great distress. How does Andy help the Lion? How does this kind act affect the relationship between Andy and the King of the Jungle? First impressions, kindness, compassion and gratitude are all on display in this short story full of of ink sketches filled in with yellow and sepia tones.

Misc: Daugherty had a productive few years leading up to World War II. After having spent much of WWI designing and illustrating American propaganda posters for the war efforts, he begun writing and illustrating children's books. After receiving a Caldecott Medal Honor for his work on Andy and the Lion, he would receive the Newbery Medal for his biography on Daniel Boone (simply titled Daniel Boone) the following year. Andy and the Lion has aged remarkably well and I highly recommend it. Daniel Boone has not aged nearly as well, with its constant degradation of Native Americans in order to prop up Boone's heroic narrative being the most problematic among a host of less than compassionate issues.

Availability: In Print. Copies range from $3-$14.


Continue reading

Family Literacy Month Kick-Off

BabyStorytime Meredith01

By Meredith Lamothe

We’re always excited about literacy here at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Sure, we were thrilled that we were going to celebrate Family Literacy Month this November, but really—we focus on literacy all the time!

We recently hosted a well-attended Jumpstart To Read event; we host Books Alive! events several times a year where costumed characters bring favorite stories to life, and we have weekly Baby Storytimes as part of First Friends Playgroup, where we can teach early literacy skills to the caretakers of our youngest visitors. So a whole month dedicated to literacy? It was a no brainer!

What does family literacy month mean at CMNH?

It means that we’ll have literacy tips posted around that you can peruse as you play. We’ll have multiple activities throughout the week that highlight literacy—and how easy it is to promote and explore at home. We’ve also made up some great handouts, have several guest speakers planned, and will have weekly crafts and games in our Muse Studio—all related to literacy!

We also have our museum. Our museum is a literacy gold mine! Literacy goes so far beyond reading books. Yes, that’s an important part—but literacy, specifically family literacy, is so easy to incorporate into your daily life—or your museum visit!

When you’re playing with your kids in the submarine—make it a story. Does that story have a beginning, middle and end? DING DING DING! LITERACY ALERT! Choose a favorite color when you walk in the museum and then as you play, find that color in each of the exhibits! DING DING DING! Visit the Muse Studio and have your child explain to you the steps they’re taking in making a craft or playing with the magnet table! DING DING DING!

Any conversation, any question, any exploration can easily be made into a rewarding literacy experience. If you have questions, we’re happy to help.

We’re always excited about literacy!

About the Author: Lead Educator Meredith Lamothe has always been a book nerd, library lover and fan of acting out and telling silly stories. She has a blast hosting the Museum’s weekly First Friends Playgroup and has her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science with a focus in Children’s Programming from Simmons College.

Continue reading

"Of Beauty and Beasts" Illustrator Interviews

The illustrators from the summer 2015 Gallery 6 exhibition "Of Beauties and Beasts" answered some of our questions about their style of illustrating, from where they get their inspiration and more! The exhibit is on view in the Children's Museum of New Hampshire through Sunday, September 6.

Rebecca Emberley

Q. Your beasts from Ten Little Beasties are such great combinations of fangs and fur. Did the process of collage allow for some fun experimenting when creating these creatures?

A. Collage is a very forgiving art form and allows for lots of experimentation in any genre, but beasts are particularly fun! There are no limits to fangs, scales and horns!

Karel Hayes

Q. In what way have your own favorite childhood books influenced you art today?

A. One of my favorite books from my childhood was a 1932 edition of Robert Lewis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. I found it in a second hand bookstore when I was about ten years old. Second hand bookstores were favorite places for my family to visit. I was first attracted to the book by the wonderful watercolors by Juanita C. Bennett. She was not as well-known as Jessie Wilcox Smith, but I think her work rivaled that well-know artist.

Robert Squier

Q. Your illustrations are done in “digital media” but the results look very traditional. What inspired your style of illustration?

A. I'd like to think my illustration style is still evolving! My earliest influences were Marvel comics and MAD magazine. When I started working professionally, I worked as a freelance commercial illustrator; that required me to be a chameleon, adapting my style to many different clients' needs.

When I made the transition to illustrating for children, I concentrated on traditional media like watercolor, acrylics and color pencil. I started working digitally out of necessity. Many of the projects I was working on required speed and flexibility – a digital illustration is easier to edit than an acrylic painting. My earliest digital work looked "computery," but over time I've learned to work in a manner that looks more traditional. I prefer a more traditional look because it allows me to bring in the texture, layers of color, and lively line that I developed during years of working in traditional media. But doing the work digitally allows me to work more quickly and allows for easier editing.

For most pieces, my process includes both digital and traditional techniques. For example, I might do a pencil sketch, scan it, tweak it on the computer, print it out, add shading and texture to the printout using an ink wash, scan it again, and then add color and additional texture on the computer.

Emily Drouin

Q. Your art features some truly terrifying “Beasts.” Where do you get inspiration for these monsters?

A: Ever since I was a child, I've had a passion for illustration and storytelling, and love drawing monsters and robots! I am inspired by those countless trips to the library as a child, such books by Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, Lewis Carroll, comics such as Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, Disney Adventures, and from Jim Henson movies and shows like Star Trek, Invader Zim, Futurama, Dr Who, Farscape and Stargate.

david-mcphail.jpg?mtime=20150901143138#a

David McPhail

Q. Your two styles of illustrating, pen and ink and acrylics, are very different from each other. Do you find that one lends itself better to portraying “beauty” or “beasts”?

A. Nearly ALL of my books were done in pen and ink, and watercolor. A few are PENCIL and watercolor. Every few years, I feel the urge to "paint," to stand at an easel and apply gobs of paint to a canvas or board. Often, this desire to paint, coincides with a book illustration project that lends itself nicely to the medium. Edward and The Pirates, for example or Farm Boy's Year. When this "convergence" happens I get out my box of acrylics and I prepare some boards with a mix of white gesso, and Burnt Umber paint. I don't like to paint on a WHITE surface. It is much too stark for me. I prefer to paint on a mid-range tone, that way I can make SOME things darker and then bring the "lights" forward. When all is ready, I begin.

Unfortunately, a three or four year gap between "painting" projects, leaves me rusty, and unsure so it takes a while to get up to speed. Sometimes, by the time the book is finished, I feel that I'm just beginning to get the hang of it! But deadlines must be met! Of the nearly 200 books that I have illustrated, fewer than ten were done with "paint."

Yong Chen

Q. Most of your illustrations in the exhibit seem to focus on the “beauty” around us such as family, tradition, friends and even the underwater scene with the sinister looking shark is beautiful! Are there unexpected challenges when it comes to creating scenes of beauty?

A. Thank you for seeing my art in such perspective. Actually my goal of making art for children is to build connections of love, respect, curiosity and understanding between different cultures, and in large, between each individual person - us. I admit, I appreciate all the beauty around us, and perhaps that's why I naturally express how I see them in my paintings, but that is not the reason I make art. For example, the book Swimming with Sharks came to me when I didn’t understand much about sharks. After I read the manuscript, I upgraded my understanding of the universe, and how much we rely on the balance and health of the earth. I turned to passion to express my new ideal. Because I was afraid of sharks as I grew up, then I turned to respect the shark as an equal member of our living environment as a beautiful creature. When I worked on the illustrations for this project, I related these mixed feelings as I tried to communicate with my audience. If I just to create scenes of beauty, I may not have problems. But the trick is how to use beauty to educate my audience with messages so that they will accept, and that is not an easy task.

Teri Weidner

Q. For people who have never tried to illustrate a children’s book, it might seem like a simple process. But your work goes through many edits and alterations before being finalized. Do you ever find that the process is tiring or is it all a challenge you’ve come to embrace?

A. I think illustrating a picture book is a sort of marathon. It can be a long, difficult process drawing 32 pages, but the format offers an amazing opportunity to tell a visual story. I start all my books knowing that the first round of sketches will probably change dramatically by the time I start the final color artwork. I really enjoy the process of reworking and refining the imagery. Most of my books go through at least 5 rounds of sketches, some initiated by me, some initiated by the editor and art director. My experience with publishers has varied dramatically from book to book. I've had some publishers that gave me almost no feedback beyond "This looks great!", even when I knew my drawings were still far from adequate. In those cases, I've continued to work on improving the sketches on my own, until I was also happy with the results. My favorite way to work, though, is with editors and art directors who can help me hone the imagery, and who offer up creative and clever ways to improve my sketches and make the book stronger. Occasionally I don't agree with their comments (which can be frustrating) but after a day or two of stewing I can usually begin to see where they're coming from and use their ideas as a spring board to improve the illustrations. Even with criticism I think is way off base can be helpful, because it forces me to define which direction the visual story is going, and defend my choices. If I can't defend them, then the pictures really do need to be reworked! So yes, sometimes the editing process can be tiring, but over the years it's something I've come to embrace. If it leads to a better book, it's worth all the effort!

Sean Bixby

Q. You have such a fun variety of creatures in your illustrations from The Uncrossable Canyon books. I imagine your sketchbook as being filled with drawing experiments. Is the planning/sketching phase the most fun for you or do you prefer working on the final illustration?

A. The planning and sketching phase are really fun to me. For The Uncrossable Canyon series, the author had many fantastic characters written into the story who were fun to design. There were also many other characters that I was able to create myself. There is a lot of brainstorming and experimenting in the process of coming up with characters. For crowd scenes I filled them with some of my favorite animals, including my dog, my favorite monsters and dinosaurs. I even looked at sketchbooks from when I was young and redesigned some of the characters I had created years ago. I have to focus a lot during this phase as I am constantly drawing and revising the characters and also the layout of the final illustration. It’s once I have the drawing down on the final paper that I can start to relax a bit more. When I start to paint, my mind is a little more free and I can listen to music, movies or podcast. So with all this said I would say have no preference as each part of the process is unique and challenging in its own way.

Continue reading

Books We Love for Family Learning

There is no better feeling than that of spending time happily engaged with a child. And we know from emerging research into brain development that children get more out of the time and attention adults spend on them than previously believed.

You may have heard the phrase “parents are a child’s first teacher.” This idea that the primary adults in a child’s life are their most important influence is true not simply about learning language or how to hold a spoon, but also in establishing lifelong values. When an adult includes a child in activities they enjoy – whether music, drawing, reading, building, or anything else – the child associates that experience with the shared good feeling.

Intrigued? Museum staff and Dover Public Library‘s Children’s Librarian Kathleen Thorner have compiled this reading list to help you make the most of family learning experiences.

These books peek inside the developing brain to help us better understand just what babies know, when they know it, and how they learn:

Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn – And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsch-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff with Diane Eyer. 2003

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind by Allison Gopnick, Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia K. Kuhl. 1999

Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers, the National Research Council, National Academy Press. 2000.

Here are some resources to help you plan outdoor adventures with your family:

Best Hikes with Kids. Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine by Cynthia Copeland, Thomas Lewis & Emily Kerr. 2007

New Hampshire Off the Beaten Path 8th: a guide to unique places by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers. 2009

These books are packed with ideas for how to feed the imagination and spirit of the children who share your home:

Winnie the Pooh’s Rainy Day Activities by Sharon Harper. 2002

Kitchen Science by Peter Pentland. 2003

I’m a Scientist: Kitchen by Lisa Burke. 2010

I’m a Scientist: Backyard by Lisa Burke. 2010

Festivals, Family & Food by Diana Carey. 1996

The Nature Corner by M.V. Leeuwen. 1990

Continue reading

Books We Love for Transitions

Museum arts & humanities educator Xanthi Gray introduces a book at a Story Explorers session.

Books We Love is a collection of book titles for adults, independent readers, and for reading aloud with children.  Each column will be organized around a theme and will include recommendations by Museum staff and the Dover Children’s Librarian, Kathleen Thorner.  We invite you to use the comments to contribute your own favorite titles related to that same theme, or to share your experiences reading about, and with, your children.

Why are we writing about books?
Books allow us to reflect on our experience and explore ideas.  They can stand in for a trusted advisor, community leader, friends and family. And their distance from our own pressing concerns can be liberating and helpful.  When we read with our children we share both the love of reading with them, and offer an opportunity to think and learn together.

Whether we read to ourselves or with our children this is a great way to think about books – as opportunities to safely explore new ideas, consider options, and play out our hopes and dreams.

New Beginnings

This collection of titles focuses on transitions – a theme that resonates with the change of seasons and beginning of school.  Titles for adults include helping children make decisions, coping with stressful transitions, and what to expect from typical developmental milestones.  For children the books focus on school as a common experience with change that is often highly anticipated by both children and their adults.  Themes range from first day jitters to coping with cliques, and feature children, teachers and even the class pet.

The Most Recommended Book

All of our education staff, and librarian Kathleen Thorner, each had one book title in common.  That was The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. 1993.  Its popularity surprised us and we wanted to highlight it.

Books for Parents

Good kids, Tough Choices: how parents can help their children do the right thing by Rushworth M. Kidder.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.  – Kathleen Thorner

Great kids: helping your baby and child develop the ten essential qualities for a happy, healthy life by Stanley I. Greenspan.  Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007.  - Kathleen Thorner

Parenting through Crisis: helping kids in times of loss, grief, and change by Barbara Coloroso.  New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. – Kathleen Thorner

The Parents’ Guide to Psychological First aid: helping children and adolescents cope with predictable life crises edited by Gerald P. Koocher and Annette M. La Greca.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. – Kathleen Thorner

Touchpoints Three to Six by T. Berry Brazelton.  This series explores predictable developmental milestones and examines the tension children experience as they grow more independent and competent.  A helpful framework for parents whether your child is 2-yrs old or 12-yrs old. – CMNH Staff

Recommendations for younger children (for starting school):

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, 2000.  Sarah is afraid to start at a new school, but both she and the reader are in for a surprise when she gets to her class. - Kathleen Thorner

Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London, 1996.  Froggy is nervous about his first day of school, but, even though it’s hard to sit still, he has a wonderful time. – Kathleen Thorner

I Am Too Absolutely Small for Schoolby Lauren Child, 2004.  When Lola is worried about starting school, her older brother Charlie reassures her. - Kathleen Thorner

I Don’t Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake, 2009.  Simon the rabbit does not want to go to his first day of school, but by the time his mother comes to take him home, he is having such a good time that he does not want to leave. – Kathleen Thorner

Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins.  A great introduction to what happens at daycare and preschool for young children – CMNH Staff

Will You Come Back For Me? by Ann Tompert. To help ease the fears of separation for children going to daycare or preschool for the first time – CMNH Staff

Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells, 2001.  Yoko loves kindergarten, but she doesn’t want her mother to leave–until her new friend helps her realize that “mothers always come back.” – Kathleen Thorner

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Ahley Wolff, 1996.
Introduces the letters of the alphabet as Miss Bindergarten and her students get ready for kindergarten. – Kathleen Thorner

Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou. – CMNH Staff

Who Will Go to School (Kindergarten)Today? by Karl Ruhmann. – CMNH Staff

My Preschool by Anne Rockwell, 2008.  Follows a little boy during his day at preschool, from cheerful hellos in circle time, to painting colorful pictures and playing at the water table, to passing out paper cups for snack. – Kathleen Thorner

Sumi’s First Day of School by Soyung Pak, 2003.  Sumi is nervous about going to school because she doesn’t speak English. However, by the time she finishes her first day there, she decides that school is not as lonely, scary, or mean as she had thought. – Kathleen Thorner

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, 2000.  A mouse named Wemberly, who worries about everything, finds that she has a whole list of things to worry about when she faces the first day of nursery school. – Kathleen Thorner

Good books for Older Readers (school experiences):

Ellie McDoodle: new kid in school by Ruth Barshaw, 2008.
Ellie writes and doodles in a journal of her family’s move to a new home and her struggle to make friends, which gets a lot easier as she leads a nonviolent protest about long lunch lines at school. – Kathleen Thorner

Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming, 2010.
An unlikely teacher takes over the disorderly fourth-grade class of Aesop Elementary School with surprising results. – Kathleen Thorner

How I Spent My Summer Vacation.  By Mark Teague.  Start the school year off with a laugh when your teacher asks YOU – how did you spend YOUR summer vacation? – CMNH Staff

How to be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey, 1993.  When Robbie York is marked as a target by a bully at school, he decides that the only way to survive the third grade is by being cool. – Kathleen Thorner

Justin Case: school, drool, and other daily disasters by Rachel Vail, 2010.  Through his journal entries, Justin relates his daily worries as he goes through third grade. – Kathleen Thorner

Nikki and Deja by Karen English, 2007.  When an arrogant new girl comes to school, third-graders and best friends Nikki and Deja decide to form a club that would exclude her but find the results not what they expected. – Kathleen Thorner

School Days According to Humphrey by Betty Birney, 2011.  Humphrey the hamster is puzzled when unfamiliar students fill Mrs. Brisbane’s classroom at summer’s end, but he soon learns that his friends from last year are fine and that the new class needs his special help. – Kathleen Thorner

School!: adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School by Kate McMullan, 2010.  Each morning, student Ron Faster hurries to Harvey N. Trouble School, where he encounters such staff members as science teacher Ms. Roxanne Pebbles, music instructor Mrs. Doremi Fasollatido, and the resigning janitor Mr. Iquit. – Kathleen Thorner

Stuart’s Cape and Stuart Goes To School by Sara Pennypacker.  Bored because there is nothing to do in the house to which his family has just moved and worried about starting third grade in a new school, Stuart makes a magical cape out of his uncle’s ties and has a series of adventures. – Kathleen Thorner and CMNH Staff

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, 2010.  Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with an advice giving paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.  – Kathleen Thorner

Continue reading

Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy