Quills and Queues

The long, easygoing days of summer are ending. Children used to sleeping in and playing outdoors for hours will soon be following a more structured schedule and meeting both old and new friends. Some kids look forward to this change; others are less eager. My son switches daily between apprehension and cheerleader-like enthusiasm.

Perii Hauschild-Owen, children's librarian at Ashland Public Library, recommends books to help ease the transition. "My experience has been that kids usually love school, even if they think they don't. And prepping them for that first day, with a book or two that addresses their enthusiasm and their worries, is a great idea," she said. Hauschild-Owen offers a list of books to fit any back-to-school situation.

For books that are fun to read aloud and give very young children a jump-start learning letters and numbers, Hauschild-Owen suggests "Just Enough Carrots," by Stuart Murphy, "The Coin Counting Book" by Rozanne Williams, and "The Alphabet Tree" by Leo Lionni.

To stoke the fires of excitement in younger children, Hauschild-Owen recommends "D.W.'s Guide to Preschool," by Marc Brown and "Look out Kindergarten," Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson.

To ease worries, Hauschild-Owen recommends "Mama Don't Go," by Rosemary Wells, Billy and the "Big New School," by Catherine and Laurence Anholt, and "First Day Jitters," by Julie Danneberg. "First Grade Stinks!" by Mary Ann Rodman and "Buster Makes the Grade," by Stephen Krensky are also good for young readers.

"First Day Jitters" is a favorite with my 5-year-old. It features a Mr. Hartwell urging a partially obscured Sarah to get out of bed and prepare for school. Each page has Sarah imagining all sorts of classroom horrors like paper-airplanes flying all over the room and boys pulling girls' pigtails. Mr. Hartwell continues to reassure her as she gets ready and they drive to school. While there are a few hints, most readers are surprised at the end when Sarah is introduced as Mrs. Hartwell, the new teacher. It's a good story to show kids they aren't alone in their first-day-of-school fears.

Sarah Aaronson, who is seven years old and entering second grade, recommends the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Hope Osborne to get kids interested in reading chapter books. "I was super duper excited about going back to school, and I want to tell my friends about the "Magic Treehouse" books I've been reading." she said. The books are great for young readers and each story offers a lesson in history, literature, or science.

Hauschild-Owen recommends a number of series books for older students. "The Judy Moody" series by Megan McDonald and the "Jake Drake" series by Andrew Clement are good reads for 4th grade students. Fifth and sixth grade students may enjoy David Adler's "Cam Jansen" series, and the "I Was A Sixth Grade Alien" series by Bruce Coville.

Thirteen-year old Lauren Frazier in Ashland is looking forward to school. "This year will be fun. "I'm more excited than usual because I'm going into the eigth grade," she said. Frazier said that at her age she likes to read a book she can share and talk about with her friends when she returns to school. She recommends the "Twilight" saga, a popular young adult series by Stephenie Meyer. "The books are about vampires, but they are about a lot more than that, too. My friends and I have been reading them over the summer," she said.

The library has hundreds of books to address both the concerns and interests of young students as they enter a new school year. The books they read now can be a stepping stone to their next adventure.