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Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: School Anxiety

Author: Robert Quackenbush
illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Interest Level: 1st Grade

From the Book Jacket: Here is the story of a young boy who is about to enter first grade and doesn't know quite what to expect. Will his friends be there? Will he have to know how to read and spell? What if he can't understand anything his teacher says? Looks like a case of first grade jitters! Robert Quackenbush and Yan Nascimbene tell a reassuring story that is sure to chase away those jitters for any soon-to-be first grader.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: One of my favorite things about this one is the word - Jitters. What a FANTASTIC way to describe difficult feelings like fear and anxiety to a six year old. Most children don't know how to communicate those types of emotions because they are not equipped with the language and coping skills. It makes me think about the importance of emotional intelligence. As an educator I am a big part of helping the inner growth of a child. Bibliotherapy like this is a great step in supporting that growth especially when students are feeling school is a fearsome place. I showed First Grade Jitters to both of our 1st grade teachers and they read it at the start of the school year. Apparently, at the end of the day one of the teachers commented to her students she was nervous about something. "Oh, well then you have the jitters," replied one of her students. This gave me an "I heart kids" moment. It will be nice as the school counselor to use the word jitters as a communication and validation tool.

Dinosaur Starts School
Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards
illustrated by Deborah Allwright
Interest Level: Grades K-1

From the Book Jacket: “What would you do if on the very first day of school Dinosaur wasn’t smiling his big, toothy dinosaur smile? You’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Dinosaur. School will be fun.’”

So begins the story as a little boy helps his dinosaur friend overcome his fears of the first day of school.  All sorts of questions that children might ask are addressed by the little boy - why does he have to go to school, what if he has to speak up and say his name, what if he doesn't like what they serve for lunch?  His answers should calm the tummies of any young student.  And best of all, he explains how to make new friend.  By the end of the day, Dinosaur loves school and can't wait to come again the next day.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I read this a few weeks into the school year with kindergarten classes. I'm well aware there are school anxiety issues going on with lots of different kids those first few days or weeks. This is great to use as a check-in with students. All of the questions proposed throughout the book are PERFECT. Even though the little boy has an answer for each of Dinosaurs worries, I was excited to hear how the kids would respond. Maybe this would be a confidence booster. It definitely was. School jitters decreased!

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