- Rebecca Purdy
The first day of Kindergarten can simultaneously be fun and fearful, thrilling and anxious, exhilarating and tearful, and that’s just for the adults! Imagine what it’s like for a 5-year old!
Easing that transition is why approximately forty public and private agencies, businesses, and individuals have joined together for the Passport to Kindergarten initiative spearheaded by Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area. Our goal is for every kindergarten student to begin school with a strong foundation for school success. In support, library branches have dedicated a small portion of their annual Back to School display specifically to kindergarteners and created a bookmark filled with titles to help ease the transition for children and their caregivers.
In “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn, Chester Raccoon does not want to go to school! He would rather stay home with his mom and play with his friends and his toys. Mrs. Raccoon acknowledges the strangeness and scariness of doing something new, but reassures him that he’ll make new friends and play with new toys. Then she shares a family secret guaranteed to make school seem as “warm and cozy” as his days at home”--the Kissing Hand. Taking Chester’s hand, Mrs. Raccoon spreads his tiny fingers into a fan and kisses him right in the middle of his palm. “Chester felt his mother’s kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart.” Now, whenever Chester feels lonely and needs “a little loving from home” he can press his hand to his cheek and think, “Mommy loves you.” This book is guaranteed to create Kissing Hands wherever it’s read!
In “Kindergarten Rocks!” by Katie Davis, Dexter Dugan is an expert on kindergarten because his “big sister, Jessie, went there too one time.” His stuffed dog, Rufus, however, is “an eensy teensy beensy bit scared.” Dexter shares Rufus’ fears with Jessie, such as Dexter getting lost. Jessie guarantees that won’t happen; after all, she insists, she’s not that lucky. Instead she offers a helpful solution; when “Rufus gets scared, just give him a hug.” Once school begins, slowly, but surely Dexter, I mean Rufus, begins to relax. He sees a preschool friend, and enjoys art, letter writing and books. Everything is great, until Dexter realizes that his fear has taken a cruel twist--it’s Rufus who is lost! Jessie helps find him and the day ends with Dexter exiting the bus and joyfully proclaiming, “Kindergarten Rocks!”
In “Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes, Wemberly worries about everything, morning, night and throughout the day. She worries about the tree in the front yard and the crack in the living room wall. When she is especially worried, Wemberly rubs the ears of her stuffed bunny, Petal, but then she worries that if she doesn’t stop, Petal will have no ears left. Soon she has yet another worry--school--and by her first day, Wemberly’s list has grown even longer! As soon as she arrives, the teacher introduces her to someone special; Jewel, standing by herself and holding a doll. At first the two girls just peek at each other, but soon Petal starts making friends with Jewel’s doll Nibblet and it’s not long before Wemberly and Jewel becomes friends too!
Originally published in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.