Check It Out: These picture books help kids get into the swing of school




Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at

Here is what I have noticed at my house this past week: apple and pear trees heavy with fruit; acorn-bearing squirrels scurrying up tall evergreens; and a woolly caterpillar inching its way down the driveway.

I know that the calendar says it’s still summer, but all of the signs point to fall — right down to the Halloween candy stocked on grocery store shelves. The transition from summer to autumn happens to be one of my favorite things about this time of year. Pumpkin-flavored lattes, cozy sweaters, fires in the fireplace: Bring ’em on!

However, there was a time in my life when September’s approach caused more dread than delight. Like those six-month checkups at the dentist, the first day of school was unavoidable and unnerving. Even if I knew that by the second or third day of school I’d settle into a familiar routine, I would always experience a deep unease in the pit of my stomach the night before the first class. Bah humbug. (I have to admit that even now, I still feel a bit dispirited come Monday mornings).

One way to dissipate dispiritedness, I find, is to read. Now that school has started for most of Clark County, students, especially the little ones who are experiencing teachers and homework for the very first time, might enjoy — and be more able to relate to — books about school. To help harried parents, the following is a list of recently published school-themed picture books available from the library.

• “Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School” by Rich Torrey.

• “Birdie’s First Day of School” by Sujean Rim.

• “Clifford Goes to Kindergarten” by Norman Bridwell.

• “Five Little Ducklings Go to School” by Carol Roth.

• “If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!” by Elise Parsley.

• “Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten” by March Tolon Brown.

• “Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School” by Simon Puttock.

• “My Humongous Hamster Goes to School” by Lorna Freytag.

• “Rosie Goes to Preschool” by Karen Katz.

• “Stanley at School” by Linda Bailey.

I don’t know about you, but if I had access to picture books about the trials and tribulations of the working world, I’d start a personal bibliotherapy program to help with my Monday morning blues. The books would have to use animals as the main characters because fur and whiskers always make things better. I can just see the titles now: “Too Many Nuts: Mr. Squirrel is Ready for Retirement,” or, this little gem, “Water Coolers and Potlucks: Mrs. Tiger Gets Catty at Work.” Of course the most popular title would probably be, “Bark! Bark! Bark!: Fido Runs into Office Politics.”

Happy school and work to all!


Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at