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Getting Involved in Your child's Education

When parents are involved in their children's education, kids do better in school.1. Want to learn how to help your child achieve and succeed? Read on! You'll learn why involvement is so important and suggestions for how to get involved.

 Back to (or Starting) School

The Night Before Kindergarten. Natasha Wing, illus. by Julie Durrell. Grosset & Dunlap, paper $3.99 ISBN 978-0-448-

The Night Before First Grade. Natasha Wing, illus. by Deborah Zemke. Grosset & Dunlap, paper $3.99 ISBN 978-0-448-

Alphabet. Matthew Van Fleet. Simon & Schuster/Wiseman, $19.99 ISBN 978-1-416-95565-8

First Day Jitters. Julie Danneberg, illus. by Judith Dufour Love. Charlesbridge, paper $6.95 ISBN 978-1580890618


Wow! School!Wow! School!
By: Robert Neubecker

Wow! It is fall and time for school! Share Izzy's first day as she travels from her mountain home to gleefully experience the first day. A large format supports the bold, highly detailed illustrations where readers can find Izzy to share her excitement.

Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader


To ease separation anxieties, In My Heart by Molly Bang telegraphs reassurance and love. A working mother and her preschooler may not be together during the day, but no matter what Mom is doing (“. . . waiting for the bus . . . reading the paper . . .”), she tells her child: “You’re in my heart.” The authentic, informal tone and warmly colored illustrations emphasize the richness of the parent’s and child’s separate lives rather than the difficulties of being apart. (2–4 years)


Three books specifically address what pre-kindergartners can expect on the first day. In Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis, Dexter isn’t scared about starting kindergarten — his stuffed dog Rufus is the nervous one. Older sister Jessie understands and reassures Dexter that he’s going to have a great time. The humorous art resembling kids’ crayon drawings is just right for this comforting story. Anne Rockwell treads similar ground in Welcome to Kindergarten, when a young boy and his mother tour his new classroom and find it’s not so big and scary after all. Rosemary Wells’s collection of forty-five vignettes follows Emily, a little rabbit-child, through a whole year in My Kindergarten. Wells draws on many iconic images of kindergarten — first-day jitters, library visits — as well as traditional subjects such as numbers, letters, and patterns. (all 3–5 years)

And don’t miss these classic first-day stories: Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner! by Amy Schwartz, Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, and Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff.  

You can choose any one of these books to be the one you can have for free this month, if you are a Pivotal Gold member.  Please just send me an email with the title.  Not a member yet?  There is more information here.  

Welcome young adults back into the classroom this fall with a fresh take on the old reliable school story. Something unusual awaits readers in each of these novels, poised to grab students’ attention with encroaching horror, amazing superpowers, or startling characters.

In Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs (Dutton, 2008), Phoebe’s mother returns from a trip to Greece with an engagement ring, and whisks her daughter off to a secret island in the Aegean Sea. Phoebe enrolls in an ultra-exclusive academy where her future stepfather is headmaster and all her fellow students are descendants of Greek gods and goddesses, complete with corresponding superpowers. The familiar high school setting is populated with cliques like the Zeus/Hera set (who “make Paris Hilton look like a Vestal Virgin”) and the über Goths of the “Hades harem,” and Phoebe’s cross-country competition includes Hermes’ offspring. This lighthearted, imaginative recasting of mythology sparkles with witty dialogue and humorous antics.

Piper McCloud also has supernatural ability, in Victoria Forester’s The Girl Who Could Fly (Feiwel & Friends, 2008). Hidden at home by her elderly parents, Piper’s airborne talent frightens the Lowland County populace. Dr. Letitia Hellion arrives with an invitation to attend a top-secret maximum-security school where Piper joins classmates whose powers include brute strength, telekinesis, X-ray vision, and hyper-speed. Dr. Hellion and her mysterious staff of scientists hide terrible secrets. Piper and super-genius Conrad pursue the truth in a fast-paced, clever story that explores the ethics of scientific experimentation.

Bianca reluctantly enrolls in isolated, gloomy Evernight Academy when her parents take teaching jobs at the eerie boarding school, in Claudia Gray’s Evernight (HarperTeen, 2008). Not feeling beautiful or wealthy enough to fit in, shy Bianca falls in love with fellow outsider Lucas. As their relationship intensifies, each carries a dark secret; Bianca is a vampire, like her fellow Evernight students, and Lucas is a vampire hunter. Gray builds the mood through skillful foreshadowing in this tale of ill-fated lovers, weaving in clever scenarios of thousand-year-old vampires learning to use iPods and microwaves so they will fit into the 21st century.

Frankie also attends a boarding school in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion, 2008). A legacy student at Alabaster Prep following in the footsteps of her father and older sister, sophomore Frankie wants to be valued for herself. Underestimated by her senior boyfriend Matthew, she discovers that he and his best friend Alpha are co-leaders of The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a secret all-male society devoted to pulling pranks. Frankie surreptitiously commandeers the Bassets, leading them through increasingly risky and hilarious mischief. Frankie, a refreshingly strong and cerebral heroine, displays a keen sense of self in this story that explores class, tradition, and feminism.

Self-declared nerd Leon, 17, is stuck with outcast Melody as his class project partner, in Brian Katcher’s Playing with Matches (Delacorte, 2008). Her face severely burned in a childhood accident, Melody is the butt of jokes and snide remarks. When they discover a shared love of offbeat humor, their friendship grows and turns to romance. Then Leon captures the attention of popular beauty Amy, and rationalizes his way to dumping loyal, intelligent Melody with not so predictable results. Full of Leon’s self-deprecating, ironic humor, and relationship angst, Playing with Matches invites readers to look past the surface as each character reveals hidden strengths and struggles.

Tweens and middle schoolers will identify with The Truth about Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman, 2008). Zebby, 14, and her friend Amr set up an uncensored Web site where classmates can post their true thoughts and feelings about their school. When it turns into a place to trash a popular classmate, with vicious anonymous comments and links to fabricated sites like “Lilly’s Lesbian Diary” and “We Hate Lilly Clarke,” Zebby and Amr debate their responsibility, especially when Lilly runs away from home. Told from alternating viewpoints of the various eighth graders involved, this is full of authentically insecure middle school voices, lending itself to consideration of cyberbullying and freedom of speech.

Dust off your classroom and library shelves and make room for these titles offering a bit of lighthearted fun, romance, teen angst, horror, and/or explorations on some provocative themes.


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Watch a video of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

For children, sight word recognition is an important step to being able to efficiently learn to read. If they don’t have to stop and consider what each word is, they will have the freedom to comprehend the meaning and context of sentences and paragraphs.
Consequently, it’s critical for parents, babysitters, guardians, grandparents and educators to help beginning readers