Thursday, 14 June 2012

Five books that are perfect to prepare for that first day at school

It's probably one of the most important days in your child's life. That first step over the threshold of their new school. "Big" school, not Nursery or Preschool. Charlotte's about to take that step and she's understandably nervous (to say nothing of how ' cat on hot bricks' my wife and I are!) So recently we've been piling through several books designed to soothe the nerves, showing how the bookworld's favourite characters got on when they first started school.

Here's a top five of our favourites (in no particular order).

1) "I Want a Friend! (A Little Princess Book)" by Tony Ross

Tony Ross' "Little Princess" has soared in popularity, boosted by the success of the TV show but when we first reviewed this book, we weren't quite prepared for just how sensitively (and cleverly) this book deals with a child's first nerve-racking day at school. The Princess goes incognito, and soon finds it quite hard to make new friends and settle in. But she's not the only child there with the same problem - and soon enough, the Little Princess learns that sometimes you might not find a friend when you're looking really hard - they might find you instead.

Very touching little book, probably the best LP book to date.

2) First Week at Cow School by Andy Cutbill and Russell Ayto

This was a recent addition to our reviews list and we loved its mix of raucous humour and cow in-jokes. Daisy the Chick-Cow is off to school and her nervous mum Marjorie is there to make sure her offspring does OK in her first week at cow school. She struggles, but thanks to some timely intervention by Daisy's chicken chums, things turn out rather well for the cow that emerged from an egg all those books ago.

Funny and colourful. We loved it.

3) Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean Adamson and Belinda Worsley

The Topsy and Tim books are fantastic, serving up life lessons with two of the most enduring and popular characters in children's books. Now the subject of a series of iPhone / Android apps as well as a successful book series, they show no signs of dropping in popularity.

This book shows what happens when the twins have their first day at school. Looking out for each other, and helping each other to take in the flurry of information that comes with their first day at school, Topsy and Tim find out that school is fun and interesting and nothing to be scared of. Of the books we looked at for this list, this is probably one of the books that probably matches most children's actual first school experience and one they can identify with more easily than most.

4) Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson

It's extremely unlikely that your child will be enrolling in Cowgirl school in September, but just in case, here's a fun book recommendation featuring a cute little cowgirl called Cactus Annie. She's not much use on a horse, she can't rope cattle for toffee and her first few days at school don't go particularly well. With an end-of-term contest looming, can Cactus Annie brush up her skills to save the day? Yep you'll have to read on to find out.

Reading between the lines and dancing between the lovely illustrations from Melanie Williamson, the lessons in this book are exactly the same as the lessons all children will encounter at their proper school. Dressing things up in cowgirl clothes just makes it all more fun.

5) Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton

This book was given to us through the excellent BookTrust programme, and it's become one of our staple favourites at home. The story of Splat, a slightly fuzzy and worrisome cat and his first day at school is a comedic take on the sort of things cats get up to. Learning about chasing mice, drinking milk and being slightly sneaky, Splat soon finds out that having a mouse for a best friend can cause all sorts of problems. Poor Seymour.

Lovely artwork and a great story from Rob.