Kindergarten. It’s not peculiar to the USA, but the States took up the movement toward early childhood education after Friedrich Froebel introduced the concept in Bad Blankenburg, Germany, on June 28, 1840. “Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers,” Froebel believed.
Starting kindergarten. One hundred days of kindergarten. The last day of kindergarten. Moving on to first grade.
We have pre-schools, ECFE, playgroups, many ways for very young children to socialize, learn to get along with people outside of their family and neighborhood, but kindergarten remains a steadfast milepost in a young life.
Here are books to share with your children and students who are beginning, attending, and finishing up their kindergarten experience.We’re approaching the last day of kindergarten, so we begin there:
The Last Day of Kindergarten by Nancy Loewen, illustrations by Sachiko Yoshikawa (Marshall Cavendish). That’s right … the LAST day of kindergarten. It’s the end of kindergarten. All those worries and fears have been replaced by fun challenges, the excitement of learning, and good memories of new friends, a special teacher, and a touch of sadness that the school year is coming to a close. But, wait … first grade is ahead. That makes the last day of kindergarten a very special day indeed.
Polka-Dot Fixes Kindergarten by Catherine Urdahl, with illustrations by Mai S. Kemble (Charlesbridge). Polka-Dot is thrilled to be going to kindergarten, especially when Grandpa gives her a fix-it kit, complete with duct tape, runny soap, and polka-dotted bandages. Liz, a girl in her classroom, finds fault with everything about Polka-Dot, providing a challenge – how can Polka-Dot fix this predicament with her tool kit?
Welcome to Kindergarten by Anne Rockwell (Walker Books). Tim gets to visit his kindergarten classroom before the school year starts. He’s glad to know his days will be filled with variety, new friends, sports, and treats! As always, Anne Rockwell’s illustrations perfectly fit the visual interest level of her readers.
Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis (Harcourt). Dexter has many fears about his first day of kindergarten, but author Katie Davis finds humorous ways to reassure her main character. In fact, as sister Jessie advises Dexter, “kindergarten rocks!”
Kindergarten Kids (HarperCollins). Melissa Sweet and Stephanie Calmenson teamed up to create this busy activity book that will reassure not-quite-there-yet kindergarteners that they’re going to enjoy school. There are rhymes, riddles, guessing games, counting, and the kids sing, draw, and laugh their way through the day. Teachers will enjoy this book, too.
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson (Viking). Carlson’s beloved Henry is heading off to the first day of kindergarten. He’s ready. He knows all about kindergarten and he’s excited … until it’s time to head into the building. It doesn’t take long, though, and Henry remembers how much fun he’s going to have.
Henry’s First 100 Days of Kindergarten, also by Nancy Carlson (Viking). Go, Henry! Counting to 100. We forget what an achievement that is for a young student. The teacher adds one jelly bean to a jar every day, students bring in 100 show-and-tell items, and the variety of items are at once fun and familiar—a popsicle-stick house, a 100-year-old great-grandmother—everything reinforces the concept of 100. With magic markers and pen-and-ink, Nancy Carlson creates a friendly school environment that will feel instantly comfortable to young readers and listeners.
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate, with illustrations by Ashley Wolff (Dutton). Miss Bindergarten, a border collie, teaches kindergarten and there are many books about her teaching experiences (including Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten and Miss Bindergarten Has a Wild Day in Kindergarten), but the dedication of this teacher speaks well for teachers everywhere. It’s an alphabet book, an animal identification book, and a book that reassures young children how interesting and colorful kindergarten will be.
The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing (Grosset & Dunlap) made the New York Times Bestseller list. That’s what a big deal kindergarten is! All kinds of kids feel all kinds of things before their first day of kindergarten, but by the end of the day they all agree: kindergarten is cool! You’ll enjoy the familiar rhythmic structure of Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas with Natasha Wing’s lively poetry.
Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee with illustrations by Harry Bliss (Harcourt) is a book about kindergarten anxiety. No, it’s a book about shoelace tying. No, it’s a book about counting. No, no, no. It’s a very FUNNY book about getting to kindergarten without worrying about rules and appearances and potential disasters. A lighthearted, laugh-out-loud book.
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (HarperCollins). Beezus is beset by the problems that her kindergarten-aged sister causes, but Ramona doesn’t really mean to be so troublesome. Especially not when she invites her entire kindergarten class to a party at her house … without telling her mother. A good read-aloud.
Do you have other favorite kindergarten titles to add? Add to the list … we’ll post the results on the CLN site’s Reading Lists.