Gearing up for school

Children’s Book Corner is a column suggesting children’s books from a mother of 11 children, who has also explored writing for children. Today’s column highlights fun children’s book reads for August that will hopefully keep your young reader reading!

By Pamela Tuck

It’s almost the end of summer and time for parents and students to start thinking about going back to school. Are you ready? This time of the year can be bittersweet: Bitter for parents who dread school shopping and getting their children back into a routine of going to school. Bitter for students who hate bedtime schedules and giving up all-day summer fun. The first-day jitters can be exciting for some and horrifying for others. The sweet part of going back to school is all the exciting things students will learn and experience . . . and let’s not forget to mention, having a quiet house . . . at least for 7 hours a day.

As a mother of 11 children, 7 school-aged, you can only IMAGINE what my school shopping list looks like . . . or maybe you don’t want to imagine it. Hopefully, just the thought of my list will help you realize that yours may not be as bad as you think. Nevertheless, over the years, I’ve finally narrowed my method down to a streamline way of preparing.

1. ORGANIZE CLOTHES: I have my children sort their clothes into piles of good clothes, work clothes, and outgrown clothes. 

(This serves two purposes: it allows me to know what’s needed for school AND it’s my first step in organizing the house before school starts.)

2. ORDER ONLINE: I usually order my children’s shirts and blouses online.

I scout out stores during the summer to decide where I need to shop. I’ve narrowed my shopping down to Wal-Mart, Target, Famous Footwear and Ross.

3. SHOP: With checklist in hand, I shop for clothes, shoes and supplies.

The children hang their new clothes up in their ORGANIZED closets for each day of the first week of school, and place their bookbags (filled with school supplies) on the floor of the closet until the first day. 

4. BEDTIME ROUTINE: I have to “reprogram” my children into going to bed early so they can get accustom to getting up early.

5. CLEAN THE HOUSE – it’s always nice to start a new school year with a fresh clean house, especially when you have the help handy.

6. BAKE COOKIES: I’ve started a tradition of having homemade chocolate chip cookies for an after-school treat on the first day of school. We generally eat our cookies with milk and talk about how our first day went. This creates an open line of communication and makes me aware of any concerns my children have on their first day.

Although the basics of preparing for school involves clothes and supplies, the truth of the matter is, going back to school also requires planning for helping your children have a successful school year – emotionally. Let’s face it, children have more to manage in school than just learning reading, writing and arithmetic. They worry more about making friends, fitting in, and bullying. Juggling the stress and anxiety of another school year can be tough.

Before introducing the recommended books, I’d like to share a cute poster for tips on helping your children have a successful school year.

For those of you who have a kindergartener who is excited or nervous about starting school, I have just the book for you!

Drumroll please . . .

The King of Kindergarten
written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This book is recommended for grades Pre-K through K.

This New York Times bestselling picture book is an enthusiastic uplifting story about a confident little boy starting his first day of kindergarten. The layers of kingly language make this book a confidence booster and the storyline paints an overall positive picture of going to school and making friends. This book is excellent for children who are approaching their big day with fear, anxiety or suspicion.

Many back-to-school books focus on emotions of young students, but older students aren’t concerned as much with being away from home all day or being separated from their parents. Many older students deal with social issues, such as bullying, peer pressure and fitting in. My next book recommendation is geared toward students who may be starting a new school, facing inner struggles or bullying. It’s sure to offer hope for those despairing moments.

Drumroll two please . . .

Thank You, Mr. Falker
written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

This book is recommended for grades 3 through 5

This book is an autobiographical story of Patrica Polacco’s struggle with reading and all the frustrations that she faced until her 5th grade teacher, Mr. Falker, discovered her disability and helped her unleash the secret behind it. Her determination and perseverance led her to endless possibilities. An excellent read! This story is also available by video on Storyline Online (

Hopefully these suggestions will help calm the first day of school jitters and build confidence in your children . . . and as always . . . keep you and your child reading!

Categories: Art & Entertainment, Books

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