Getting Ready for School (A Book Review of Sorts but also a Rant)

It’s summer, so I’ve been pretty lax about keeping up a writing schedule. I have however, done quite a bit of reading. I just finished Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir, A Widow’s Story as well as J. M. Coetzee’s Nobel and Booker prize-winning novel, Disgrace. I would highly recommend both of these. Having three small children, I also read a lot of children’s books. Today a couple of them got me thinking. Here’s the scoop on one of them:

Book furniture at Open Books bookstore, Chicago

Book furniture at Open Books bookstore, Chicago (Photo credit: Amy Guth)

Harris heads to Kindergarten next year, which terrifies me just a bit. He’s been going to a Montessori pre-school since he was two, so it’s not the empty nest feeling that I’m worried about, it’s the school system itself. As an elementary school teacher I know how (often unintentionally) hard it can be for free-spirited, independent thinkers like Harris. I am hoping this isn’t the case, but I guess we’ll just have to trust in the compassion of others and find out.

I’ve seen a lot of “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” type stories in the bookstores, including the incredibly stupidly titled Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, which isn’t quite as dreadful a text as The Night Before Kindergarten. Let me make this clear–I haven’t been looking for these books, but they’re almost impossible not to spot. There is a new niche market (did I mention that a quick search on amazon reveals that the majority of these books are written after 2000?) preying on parents’ fears about their children’s first school days. Actually I’m not sure if it’s fear or just this idea among parents that we need to prepare our kids for absolutely everything and that somehow we need a book for anything and everything.

I have zero interest in buying a “Kindergarten” book for Harris, and yet while reading stories with him today, we rediscovered a book that we both enjoy. While I was reading it, I thought–this is my Kindergarten book for Harris. The book is entitled Only One You by Linda Kranz. The text is simple, the art is lovely, and the ideas inside are all I need to help Harris (and myself) prepare for Kindergarten and beyond. The final line reads, “There’s only one you in this great big world . . . Make it a better place.” That’s the kind of message that is worth sharing.

For further information on any of these books just head to amazon or your local bookstore.



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