Back to School Picture Books! A review by Amy Halvorson Miller


Last week I talked with some school-age friends of mine, who every August are asked whether they’re ready for school to start. As usual, there was a range of reactions from hangdog to happy-dance. Let’s celebrate with or reassure our young students with two new back-to-school picture books. It’s a good time for some extra read-aloud snuggles and giggles.

Little Mole Goes to School by Glenys Nellist opens with a worried Little Mole and Mama walking to school on the first day. He is afraid he won’t know the alphabet or be able to see and hear the teacher well. (Remember, moles live underground.) Mama encourages Little Mole to sit up front and learn along with his friends, sending him off with a hug.

The charming class of woodland animals begins the school day, but Little Mole compares himself to his classmates: “I wish I had eyes like that.” and “I wish I could sing like that.” Finally! Recess is a welcome break. The animals are frolicking in a “playground” in the woods when Little Squirrel finds a tunnel to explore.

It’s great fun until the tunnel collapses. Here is where Little Mole’s skills save the day, digging out while the other animals use their unique abilities to help. Little Mole eagerly shares his excitement about his day with Mama singing their way home.

The end pages include a list of characteristics of each animal species in the story. Notes on helping a child who is anxious about school from a family therapist are included, as well.

Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School! by Carrie Finison is a funny and energetic tortoise-and-hare story set on the first day of school in the tropics. Little Tortoise definitely does not want to be late, so she loads her lunchbox and dons her helmet trying her best to take off likety-split! As you would imagine, she hurries, but cannot keep up with cheetah, llama, lemur, pangolin, and even snail (on a scooter).

Little Tortoise cries, left behind and alone. Then who arrives later than she? Her new teacher, Mr. Sloth! While the class argues over who arrived at school the fastest, Mr. Sloth greets them declaring they were all on time. All except someone who overslept: Little Hare.