Thursday, September 8, 2016

Learning from Picture Books – SCHOOL’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

I enjoyed this fresh perspective on the back-to-school story.

It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he's not the only one going through first-day jitters.

School’s First Day of School was written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian 
Robinson. It was published by Roaring Brook Press in 2016.


“That summer, they dug up the big field, and poured the foundation, and set brick on top of brick until they’d built a school.”

My Thoughts as a Writer:

It’s an interesting and tricky challenge to take an inanimate object and write a story from its perspective, but I think it works here because schools are so familiar to kids. I liked the conversational writing style, which is full of the small details of everyday life.

The illustrations are a lot of fun and kids will enjoy studying them to see what the students are doing in the group scenes

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

I’d love to read this book to students so they can think about a different perspective on back-to-school. It’s also a good way to introduce some of the places and what a day in school might be like. The pages with scenes from different parts of the school would be fun to talk about, and to model “reading the pictures”.  

I liked the message that anyone can be nervous or worried at the beginning of school. The words reflecting emotion (e.g., “worry”, “felt bad”, “embarrassed”), are nice opportunities to discuss how to talk about feelings.

Ages: 4 – 8

Grades: kindergarten to grade 5

Themes: first day of school, fears, diversity, janitors or custodians


How is your school the same or different from the school in this book? Make a list!

What do you think your school might say on your first day? Draw a picture of your school and write one sentence to share your school’s feelings.

Find your janitor or custodian and interview them to find out what they do to get your school ready for students! Share what you found out.

Which page is your favorite? Explain why.

This book has an activity guide


  1. What a clever idea for a book and a great message for kids. Love the idea of a school having jitters -- just like the kids.

  2. It's fun to imagine the school feeling first day jitters right along with the kids. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love that this book is writtenn from the perspective of the school. Instantly, the title makes me want to read the book to get into the heart of this inanimate object. The story seems to beg the question: If walls could talk, what would they say? Childrne will love your activities. I especially like the idea of interviewing the janitor. I think kids (and adults) will be amazed at how much janitors do. Thanks for a great book review.

  4. So many opposite takes in today's PPBF choices/ Different perspectives can be so helpful. Christian Robinson is one of my favorite illustrators.

  5. Nobody considers what the school thinks about Back-to-School! What a fun way to approach the subject.


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