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Language & Learning

4 Books to Read to Your Kid Before Starting School

From classics to new faves, these books can help your kid get ready for school

Learning to share, missing mom, and making new friends are all a big part of starting school. And while the first days can be a big transition for everyone, books can help your kid realize that it's all 100-percent normal. Here are four that can help make the transition a little smoother.

The Kissing Hand
by Audrey Penn (Tanglewood Press)
Great for: Separation anxiety
Those quick morning goodbyes at drop-off can be rough for both of you, but this sweet story about a raccoon mama and her little guy Chester has the solution to separation anxiety. Mrs. Raccoon kisses Chester's palm and reminds him that if he presses it to his face, he'll feel his mother's love and his sadness will end. The lesson stays with little Chester: He later returns the favor by smooching her palm so she has a secret 'kissing hand,' too.

The Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt (Philomel Books)
Great for: Problem solving
Duncan, the crayons' owner, learns about his colors' needs and desires when they each write him a letter about his drawing style. Red and Blue are overworked, while White, Black, and Peach feel neglected. And don't get Gray started on all the big animals he has to fill in (hippos, elephants, whales). Can't he just color a few small rocks and leave it at that? And why can't a monster be pink? Thinking outside the (crayon) box is the lesson learned.

Wemberly Worried
by Kevin Henkes (HarperCollins Publishers)
Great for: Nervousness 
Wemberly the mouse is a bundle of nerves whose worries have taken over her life. Her indoor concerns (a crack in the wall, the radiator's clank) and the outside ones (an unstable tree, the soundness of playground equipment) are trumped only by the biggest of all: going to school. Fortunately, her teacher, Mrs. Peachum, has a plan. She introduces Wemberly to an equally anxious classmate named Jewel. Together they play and bond and decide that school is really nothing to worry about.

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for Children)
Great for: Bedtime
Got a kid who isn't into bedtime? Try putting him in charge of a pigeon. Mo Willems' genius tale addresses the reader-and listener-by asking for help to make sure the bird doesn't stay up late. Just like a kindergartner, the bird claims he's not tired in the least and instead wants to have a hotdog party, watch TV and even count the stars. But in the end, of course, he gets sleepy and drifts off (here's hoping your kid does the same!).