Title: Kindergarten ROCKS!
Author/Illustrator: Katie Davis
Publisher: New York: Harcourt, 2005.
Genre: Picture book, fiction
Audience Age: 4-7 (but especially kindergartners and their families!)
Themes/Topics: kindergarten, overcoming fears, new experiences
Opening Sentences: I am Dexter Dugan and I know everything about kindergarten. This is because I am actually going to be a kindergartner. Very soon.
Synopsis: Dexter’s not scared about kindergarten. Not at all. Nope. Nosirreebob. Not scared. But his stuffed dog, Rufus, is worried about a LOT of things. What if he gets lost? What if the kids are mean? What if the bus driver doesn’t know the way to the school? What if…?
Dexter’s sister, Jessica, who was a kindergartner a long, long, long, long, long time ago (she’s now in third grade) tries to reassure him, but it’s not easy. She finally suggests that if Rufus gets scared, Dexter should give him a hug. (Brilliant, Jessica!)
Things are going even better than Dexter could have imagined (even if he’d let himself imagine anything other than disaster) until Rufus gets lost! Calamity! Where is Rufus? Will Dexter (or Rufus) find out that really, truly, without a doubt, Kindergarten really ROCKS?
What I like about this book: Besides everything, that is… It is so true to a kid’s experience of wanting to appear brave, but of having all kinds of fears about the first day of kindergarten, or the first day of camp, or anything they’re experiencing for the first time.
I don’t remember my first day of first grade (we didn’t have kindergarten), but I remember the first day of second grade. A little one-room schoolhouse had been hauled into the school yard for the first and second graders (the school was overcrowded because the high school had burned down, and so extra grades were crammed into the elementary school). I was sure we were supposed to go to the little school – but what if I was wrong? I remember standing in the middle of the sidewalk between the big gateposts, not wanting to move in case I made a mistake – then my friend Frances, who wasn’t afraid of anything as far as I could tell, swooped down on me, grabbed my hand, and dragged me over to the little school, where our teacher was waiting.
Katie Davis captures this fear of the unknown perfectly – as well as the fun of finding out that once you get past the fear, the experience ROCKS. Her art is simple, giving the effect of having been colored with wax crayons, and perfectly illustrates the text.
Because the book is from 2005, it is longer than picture books usually are these days, but kids will enjoy every word, I am quite sure.
Activities/Resources: A great way to get the feel of kindergarten or preschool is to play school. Set up a play center, a story center, an art center, a small table and chairs, get some friends over, and practice what school will be like – be sure to make it fun!
Katie Davis has a counting printable for Kindergarten ROCKS! at her website.