Hopping Back Into The Classroom by Alexandria LaFaye

Hey, everyone, it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school! If you’re a parent or a teacher, you already know that, huh? And you probably already know that there are lots of picture books that feature schools. But do you know how to choose the best ones to share?

Multi-published author and educator Alexandria LaFaye stopped by to offer her thoughts on finding the perfect picture books that will help your child navigate a new school year. Be sure to read to the end for a very special giveaway!

Hopping Back into the Classroom:
A Look at Some Great School-Centered Books to Kick off the New School Year

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Many kids are itching to get back to school to see their friends, get to know their new teachers, head out to recess, and use those new school supplies—oh and there’s the school work too. Books are a big part of making the beginning of school a great success. The books teachers read help ease kids back into the routine of things or introduce new students to the way things work. For some kids, these books are an essential part of helping them get through their first day jitters.

A Few Great School-Centered Books

My favorite book in this genre is I Love You All Day Long, written by Francesca Rusackas and illustrated by Priscilla Burris, because it reassures preschoolers and kindergarteners that starting school will be a wonderful adventure and that their parent’s love will sustain them all day long. 

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This year, Priscilla offers a wonderful solo addition to the genre with  Hello School, which shows kids how to face their first day jitters while bringing them into a wonderfully diverse and kid-centric classroom. 

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Ryan T. Higgins takes a hilarious turn at the first day of school scenario with the wonderful We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. Who wouldn’t love a book with a description that starts, ‘It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious!’

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The “Secret” Formula for a Great School-Centered Book

When creating or selecting school-centered books, it’s essential that they realistically represent the diversity of a classroom, address a child’s emotions in a way that is embedded in the story, and remain true to how a child sees the world, and offer a curriculum-rich environment.  It’s also wonderful if the book includes a unique and stereotype-free view of teachers, librarians, and school staff. Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series lampoons the dangers of staff stereotyping to hilarious effect.

No Frogs in School

This fall, I’m throwing my own backpack into the classroom (aka hat into the ring) with No Frogs in School. The story centers around Bartholomew Botts’ love for pets, hoppy pets, hairy pets, and scaly pets too. He loves them so much that he has to bring one to school each day. His classroom guests create havoc, making things tough for Bartholomew’s exasperated teacher, Mr. Patanoose.

In creating this story, I worked to embed the curriculum into the story in a kid-centric way by doing things like having the frog-toting Bartholomew contemplate the complexities of color combining.  As he learns that mixing green and yellow makes blue, he wonders how frogs get to be different colors.

Eglantine Ceulemans’ illustrations are fantastic because the class she’s drawn reflects the diversity of the characters I created and the room she’s rendered is so full of wonderful enrichment elements. Not to mention, the quirky kid antics she’s included. It’s because of her amazing artwork that Kirkus said that “each page lends itself to an energetic seek-and-find storytime that promises new discoveries upon multiple reads.”

In the story, I also tried to defy teaching stereotypes by featuring a talented male teacher in an early elementary classroom.  The final feature of my book that reflects my vision of a great book for school-aged children is that Bartholomew is from a multi-ethnic family, like so many kids today who don’t often see their families reflected in the books they read.

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Classroom Library Building Book Giveaway

To celebrate students, teachers, and the need for inclusive classroom libraries, I’m offering a giveaway of 31 books for a K-2 classroom, including a signed copy of NO FROGS IN SCHOOL.

If you’d like to enter to win, you can visit my Facebook community Sylvanocity and check out the pinned post. I’ll be reviewing books from the giveaway each day in August, so that interested teachers can see the books they might win. The contest runs Aug 1-30th. This collection would be a nice expansion or foundation for an inclusive classroom, which would be a great welcome back to school present for any K-2 teacher.

Care to Host a School Visit with A. LaFaye?

Speaking of schools, I LOVE to visit schools and inspire kids to be life-long readers, to follow their talents, to learn to love writing and revision, and to value every member of their school community.  Here’s a sneak peek at A School Visit with A. LaFaye.

I hope you’ll share your favorite school-centered books in the comments below.  Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!

A LaFaye

A. LaFaye

 

For more information about Alexandria LaFaye and her books, please visit her website: 

https://www.alafaye.com/