Top Ten First Day of Kindergarten Books

first day of kindergarten books

My oldest daughter be going to kindergarten this week (sniff, sniff) and we have been reading lots kindergarten books to prepare.  Here are our favorites (in no particular order)…

Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt– This is the perfect book for a kid (or parent) who loves space.  Everything about the first day of kindergarten is related to a space mission.  The teacher is the commander, the classroom is a capsule, and classmates are crewmates.  Hilarious story with very cute illustrations!

Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis– Dexter’s big sister tells him all about kindergarten and helps him find his lost stuffed animal on the first day.

Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum– In this story the mom is nervous about kindergarten and her son had to reassure her that everything will be fine.  The illustrations show mom small and blue when she is anxious and big and colorful when she feels fine.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate– This rhyming book shows the teacher and her twenty-six students (from Adam the alligator to Zach the zebra) getting ready for kindergarten.

Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson– It is a simple story about a little mouse who is excited and then a little nervous about kindergarten.  It is written in both English and Spanish.

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus– Just as the title says, Mom comes to kindergarten… and embarrasses her daughter because she doesn’t know the rules.

Tom Goes to Kindergarten by Margaret Wild– Tom the Panda is nervous about kindergarten so his parents stay with him the first day.  Then they want to come back because it is so much fun!

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing– Cute book that is written in the style of “The Night Before Christmas.”  My daughter thought it was funny that the teacher had to ask the crying parents to leave.

The Berenstain Bears Go To School by Stan & Jan Berenstain– Sister Bear is nervous about going to kindergarten in the Bear Country School so she meets her teacher and checks out her classroom.  On the first day of school she has lots of fun building blocks, painting pictures, and looking at books.

Kindergarten Countdown by Anna Jane Hays– This rhyming book counts down the week before kindergarten with numbers and days of the week.

Preschool Author Study

Eric Carle author study

So you’ve got a kid who likes a book.  Awesome!  Now go to the library and check out three (or five or ten) more books by the same author.  BAM!  You are doing an author study.  That was easy.

Author studies are great because if you are choosing books by an author your child already likes, so he will probably discover MORE favorite books.  You are encouraging a deeper connection attachment to reading. By discussing and comparing the books, you build critical thinking skills.  At the very least you are reading and learning an author’s name.  🙂

We chose Eric Carle because we were going to a Very Hungry Caterpillar puppet show.  Eric Carle is a familiar author, but I still found lots of books that I had never read before.  I think it is a good idea to chose an author/illustrator for preschoolers since it is so easy to see how the pictures are all in the same style.  Some other favorite preschool author/illustrators are Lois Ehlert, Donald Crews, David Shannon, and Sandra Boynton.

Obviously an author study for the under 5 set is going to look a little different than with school age kids.  You won’t be discussing the author’s use of imagery in his writing style.  Well, maybe you can.  Here are some preschool-appropriate ideas to try with your author study:

  • Talk about the jobs of author and illustrator.  Point out the author and illustrator’s names on the cover and title page.
  • Go to the author’s website to see a picture or video of the author.
  • Talk, talk, talk about books.  Which one is your favorite and why?  How are the books alike?  Are there any characters that appear in multiple books?
  • Write a letter or draw a picture to send to the author. (Your preschooler can dictate the letter and you do the writing)
  • Act out your favorite book with puppets.
  • Write your own book in the author’s style.  Use the same characters or setting, or continue the story of a favorite book.  (Again, you’ll have to do the actual writing)
  • Draw or paint or picture inspired by the illustrations.
  • Make a chart to compare the books.  We did an easy checklist that asked- Were there people in the story?  Animals?  Was there a problem in the story?  Did you like the book?

Seasonal Book Library

I read Simplicity Parenting and it recommended de-cluttering kids’ rooms so there were fewer toys and (gasp) books available to them.  I forgot the exact number, but I think the book advocated having five books out at a time for young kids.  Um, we can’t do that.  We started out with about five books when my oldest was born.  Now we have three shelves full of kid books.  I love books.  My daughters love books.  We have lots of books.

book library

But I get it.  The idea is if you only keep a few books out a time, it won’t be so overwhelming to kids.  Five favorite books is easy and simple.  Too many choices can be a bad thing.  And admittedly, it is difficult to find a particular favorite book on our overcrowded shelves.  I like the idea of focusing on only a few books at a time.  I also like the idea of weeding out some of our books.  So I took out all the seasonal/holiday books and put them away in a closet.

spring books

When it was winter, we had all of our snowmen and mitten books on a special shelf downstairs.  Now that it is spring (hurray!), the winter books are gone and replaced with flower and Easter books.  It makes the books a little more special and exciting that they only come out during a certain times during the year.

You could do this with any books, not just seasonal.  Just put away some of your books and then create a rotating library in your child’s room.  It can change every week, month, or season…depending on when you remember.  🙂

More Snow Books

IMG_8438

These are some of our favorite snow books…

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett- This is a fun Goldilocks story, except set in the far north.  This time the bears are polar bears!  Kids will love the gorgeous pictures.  Jan Brett is known for her beautiful illustrations, with sidebars showing even more of the story.  While you are reading, compare/contrast this story with the traditional Goldilocks.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz-  Caldecott Award-winning illustrations and simple sentences tell the story of a boy’s excitement as snow starts to fall.  This is a good book for beginning readers.

Snowy, Blowy, Winter by Bob Raczka- This is a quick, fun read with lots of rhyming with words that end in ‘y’.  See if you can come up with some more snowy words while you read!

Snow Happy! by Patricia Hubbell- This book has cute watercolor illustrations and fun rhyming words to tell what one family does out in the snow.

Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker- In this a boy describes his love of snow (in blue print) and his sister tells why she doesn’t like snow (in red print).  It would be fun to read this together with your child reading one part and you reading another.  Or read it yourself in two different voices.

Snow by Cynthia Rylant-  It is a very sweet story of a girl excited about snow.  She tells about how she feels and what she will do in outside in the snow.

Marco Flamingo by Sheila Jarkins- Marco is the only flamingo that wants to go north to see the snow.  The story is told in both English and Spanish, so it would be great exposure to another language.  It also has a large section with no words, just pictures of Marco’s activities in the snow.  See if your kiddo can use their own words to tell that part of the story!

Non-fiction Snow Books

Sometimes it is difficult to find good non-fiction books for kids.  These are all packed with information about snow AND have engaging pictures that kids will love.  Even adults will learn something new!  Read one of these books, and then go out in the snow and experience it up close!

IMG_8484

Who Likes the Snow? by Etta Kaner– This book asks questions about snow and then a fold-out flap reveals the answer with a scientific explanation.  Curious kiddos who ask lots of questions will love this book!  I think the illustrations and fold-out flaps make it most suitable for younger readers (preschool- grade 2).

The Story of Snow- The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson, Ph.D.- I like this book because it has one sentence in large print on each page and also a small paragraph with further explanation.  You can just read the one sentence for toddlers or preschoolers.   Older elementary kids will appreciate all the extra information.  The beautiful photographs of snow crystals are amazing.  This book can be used with kids of all ages!

It’s Snowing by Gail Gibbons– This book explains how snowflakes are formed, types of precipitation, and snow activities.  I especially like how it references different countries and continents around the world.  It would be great to read with a map or globe nearby.  It also has extra snow facts on the last page.  This is a great reference book for elementary (grades 1-4).

How to Get Free (or Really Cheap) Kid Books

If reading is the best way to teach your kids, then books are the best things to give them.  Here are a few ways to get free (or really cheap) books for your kids:

  • book trade playdate–  Have books that you no longer want or multiple copies of the same book?  Invite friends over for a playdate and everyone brings a set number of books.  Then you can take turns picking out “new” books
  • book baby shower– Have each guest bring their favorite children’s book and write a little message in it.  This is especially a great idea for a second (or third or whatever) baby shower when you already have the necessities.
  • book birthday party– Ask for books for presents!
  • Craigslist– Check out the “free” and “kid” sections of your local Craiglist.  http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
  • Freecycle– See if anyone wants to get rid of kid books in your area.  https://www.freecycle.org/
  • garage sales– Look for garage sales with kids items and go right before they close.  They will probably sell you a whole box of books for a few dollars just so don’t have to pack them up!
  • used book sales– Libraries and elementary schools sometimes host used book sales as a fundraiser.  The school where I taught had a sale every spring- paperbacks for $.50 and hardbacks for $1!
  • thrift stores– As well as selling used clothes and toys…there are also books!
  • Half Price Books– Shop the clearance section for amazing deals.  This was my go-to shop for books in my classroom.  http://www.hpb.com/
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library– If there is a program available in your area, you can sign-up to get a book in the mail every month!  This programm is for kids from birth to five years old. http://imaginationlibrary.com/

Leaf Man Activity

IMG_7377

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is a wonderful autumn book.  The unique illustrations show people and animal shapes made out of leaves.  What a perfect fall activity!  We headed to the park to gather our materials.  The girls loved picking out leaves, acorns, sticks, grass, pine needles and cones to take home.  I made sure I got doubles of ones they liked so we could make symmetrical arms and legs.  (TIP:  The inside cover of the book provides a cheat sheet of the names of trees, in case you are nature-challenged like me.)

IMG_7379

Start off by recreating designs in the book.  It seems easy, but finding similar shapes and colors and copying a picture can be tricky for little ones.  Elementary kids should be able to do it without help.  Then see if they can make up their own shapes!  Play a game and see if you can guess what animal they are trying to make.

IMG_7378

Talk about symmetry and see if you can make designs with one or two lines of symmetry.

IMG_7380

Play with the leaves and then put them back in nature when you are finished.  I love easy clean-up!  Or you can press the leaf design by putting books on top of it.  Leave it (ha!) for a few days, then iron it between two sheets of wax paper, and you’ll have a longer-lasting shape.

IMG_7381

Ask preschoolers questions about their Leaf Man.  What is his name?  Where would he go on his adventure?  Who would he meet?  What will happen to him in the wind?  Elementary kids might be inspired to write their own Leaf Man story.  They can use their own pressed leaves as illustrations or you can take pictures and print them off.