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Getting kids ready for school is difficult in the best of times, and it goes without saying that these are not the best of times. From kids who will be going to school for the first time to early elementary students who need refreshers on social skills and emotional support, as well as tweens who are looking for books to help them navigate the maelstrom of emotions that is middle school, the Forest Park Public Library Youth Services Department has a book recommendation for you.

These are the ones we’d like to spotlight in our collection:

Picture Books

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Join the call for a better world with this New York Times bestselling picture book about a school where diversity and inclusion are celebrated. Perfect for every kid, family or classroom!

In our classroom safe and sound.

Fears are lost and hope is found.

Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.

Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.

Danbi Leads The School Parade by Anna Kim

Danbi is thrilled to start her new school in America. But a bit nervous too, for when she walks into the classroom, everything goes quiet. Everyone stares. Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get anything right. Luckily, she isn’t one to give up. With a spark of imagination, she makes up a new game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember! Danbi Leads the School Parade introduces readers to an irresistible new character. In this first story, she learns to navigate her two cultures and realizes that when you open your world to others, their world opens up to you.

How To Get Your Teacher Ready (English) | Cómo cuidar de tu profesora (Spanish) by Jean Regan, Lee Wildish, and Raquel Mosquera (Translator)

Learn how to get your teacher ready for back to school…from the first day to graduation! The kids are in charge in this hilarious classroom adventure–from the creators of the New York Times bestseller How to Babysit a Grandpa.

Explains how to help your teacher get ready for events in the school year.

Explica cómo ayudar a su maestra a prepararse para los eventos del año escolar.

Jamie is Jamie : a book about being yourself and playing your way by Afsaneh Moradian and Maria Bogade

When free-spirited Jamie arrives at a new preschool, all the children learn that gender expression doesn’t determine which toys to play with.

There are so many fun things to play with at Jamie’s new preschool–baby dolls to care for, toy cars to drive–and Jamie wants to play with them all! But the other children are confused by Jamie’s gender expression . . . is Jamie a boy or a girl? Some toys are just for girls and others are just for boys, aren’t they? Not according to Jamie!

Join Jamie’s new friends as they learn the importance of cooperation, creativity, and empathy. Jamie Is Jamie is a great way to start a conversation with children about gender expression by: challenging gender stereotypes showing readers that playing is fundamental to learning reinforcing the idea that all children need the freedom to play unencumbered

A special section for teachers, parents, and caregivers provides tips on how to make children’s playtime learning time.

Milk Goes to School by Terry Border

First days of school are tough, and making new friends is even tougher. Milk’s dad gave her a sparkly new backpack and told her that she was the creme de la creme, but most of the other kids don’t seem to agree. In fact, some of her new classmates think Milk is just little a bit spoiled. . . .

In this latest hilarious picture book from Terry Border, our food friends go to school and learn that it’s not just Milk that’s the creme de la creme. Some other food can be just as sweet.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael Lopez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look, talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

A moving and universal picture book about empathy and kindness, sure to soothe heartaches big and small–now a New York Times bestseller

When something sad happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer comfort. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen . . . which is just what Taylor needs.

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustration, The Rabbit Listened is about how to comfort and heal the people in your life, by taking the time to carefully, lovingly, gently listen.

Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Lulu is excited about her playdate with Finny-and especially excited about Finny’s Rolly-Roo. In fact, Lulu loves the toy so much that she . . . kind of forgets to play with Finny. So when the girls accidentally break the Rolly-Roo, will Lulu realize her mistake? In this compassionate and charming story about the value of a great friend, Lulu and Finny repair the broken toy, and soon forget all about it, blasting off on new imaginative adventures together as Ladybug Girl and Grasshopper Girl.

Middle Grade:

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone

Molly Frost is FED UP because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top. Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit. Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her a F. Because it’s impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips. Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction. Because middle school is hard enough. And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what’s right, and they’re not backing down.

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

After his quick-tempered father gets in a fight and is sent back to jail, sixth-grader Bryan, known for being quiet and thoughtful, snaps and follows new friend Mike into trouble.

As for tips on how to get kids ready for school, the Youth Services department is having a small in-person program geared toward this:

FPPL Back To School Tips Program (click the title to go to the registration page)

Starting a new school year sometimes comes with worries and/or excitement. Doodle, do a zentangle, create an affirmation fortune teller, make your own hand warmer, and get some tips from our social work intern on handling the new school year. Ages 8 to 10.

As a precaution, this event is limited to six attendees at a time and participants are expected to fully mask and distance inside the program for safety. To allow as much space for our kids as possible, we ask that adults only accompany children in the room if absolutely necessary and mask inside the program room out of an abundance of caution since we will be meeting in an enclosed space.  A recording (or remote option) will be available for this program for those interested.

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