Books help young readers get ready to go back to school

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17 2013 2:00 p.m. MDT

"The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

Penguin Young Readers Group

School bells are ready to ring, signaling new backpacks and pencils and decisions about cafeteria food or lunch in a bag. Some children will be learning the basics of ABCs, colors or math with numbers more than 10. Others will think about new friends, reading groups and even bullies.

For each of these and many more concerns and new experiences, there are books that prepare children. For the child who is fearful of everything on the first day of school and wishes to be left alone, there’s a relevant book. Another story features a math-hating boy who would rather write poetry than multiply. One child finds out calling someone a bad name is not OK, and a girl learns a new student can be made a welcome part of the “group.” Some children will find out school isn’t just about the students: What if the crayons got tired and quit?

For every child, every stage of excitement, every fear, there’s a book to support and enjoy in preparation for school. Here are a few selections.

THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT,” by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel/Penguin, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

When Duncan opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters from the crayons. They were tired. It’s no secret Duncan used his red crayon more than any other. “I need a rest,” protested the red crayon. Black crayon was tired of being used merely for outlining, and pink protested because it hadn’t been used at all. What could Duncan do to appease the crayons in their rebellion?

COLORS FOR ZENA,” by Monica Wellington, Penguin, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

Zena's day begins in black and white, but soon color appears everywhere. When Zena and her animal friends combine colors, they agree the result is “magnificent!” Author Monica Wellington has included a color wheel and art activities for children to explore while appreciating the color in their lives.

"AN ABSOLUTELY ABSURD ANIMAL ALPHABET,” by Linda D. Sorensen, Xlibris, $31.99 (Pre-4)

Color and tongue-twisting descriptions define the animals representing the alphabet. From “pretty peacock pampers the plain penguin,” to “grumpy goat gobbling green grapes,“ the absurd animals will earn smiles aplenty.

TWENTY-SIX PIRATES: An Alphabet Book,” by Dave Horowitz, Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

There’s “Pirate Nat who lost his hat,” “Pirate Quaid who's not afraid” and “Pirate Roy, a dangerous boy.” When 26 zany pirates are put on one boat, it’s bound to be bedlam. Dave Horowitz’s swashbuckling crew can incite a giggle-fest for every first-grader.

OLIVER AND HIS ALLIGATOR,” by Paul Schmid, Disney-Hyperion, $15.99 (ages 3-5)

Oliver has going-to-school jitters. He takes along an alligator because he “sometimes felt his brave wasn’t nearly as big as he needed it to be.” Oliver is so nervous be can only say, “Munch, munch!” Alligator helps by swallowing a lady who wasn’t his mother (“Welcome to your new school!”), a girl (“ Hi! My name is Grace”) and all the children and tables and everything on the walls. Oliver finds out “school is kind of a little bit boring” and not as much fun as being with the group, even if it is inside the alligator. “Oliver and His Alligator” is perfect for those who need a little courage when beginning school.

RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL,” by Kim T. Griswell, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev, Sterling Books, $14.95 (ages 5-8)

All Rufus Leroy Williams III wants is to go to school and learn to read his favorite book. One problem: He is a pig. Even though he has his backpack, lunchbox and blanket ready, the principal says, “No pigs in school!”

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