HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Back to School Book Picks: 2010 Edition

Back to School Book Picks: 2010 Edition

The Children’s Book Review | August 18, 2010

You may be looking for a book to ease the nerves of a child beginning their first day of school or entering a new grade. Perhaps you just want to find your daughter a good read that puts her back into school mode. Maybe you want your son to start thinking about school topics; such as, math. Whatever your needs, I know you’re going to find a book that is just right for you and your child.

As I work on my own family’s back-to-school needs—hello, Pre-K—time is of the essence; so, I’ve included the publisher’s synopsis for each of these fabulous school themed books.


Preschool Day Hooray!Preschool Day Hooray!

by Linda Leopold Strauss (Author), Hiroe Nakata (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 2-5

Hardcover: 24 pages

Publisher: Cartwheel Books (June 1, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Every preschooler will relate to this empowering text that is fun to both hear and say.

“Hi to teacher,/Coat on hook./ Run to shelf/ And find a book.// Painty hands and/ Gooey glue./ Tricky puzzles/ I can do!”

In a durable big-kid format (POB with light cardstock pages), with bright and active illustrations that celebrate a happy place where kids learn to love school.

Add this book to your collection: Preschool Day Hooray!


Ready For Kindergarten, Stinky Face? (Scholastic Reader Level 1)Ready For Kindergarten, Stinky Face

by Lisa McCourt

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Cartwheel Books (July 1, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: It’s time to go to kindergarten, but Stinky Face has a question . . .

“But, Mama, what if the sink in my classroom pours grape juice instead of water?”

As the situations grow stranger, Stinky Face’s mama always has just the right answer to make him feel better.

With Lisa McCourt’s zany ideas and Cyd Moore’s motion-filled illustrations, this reader is sure to make every worried kindergartner-to-be a little less nervous.

Add this book to your collection: Ready For Kindergarten, Stinky Face

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

by Audrey Vernick (Author), Daniel Jennewein (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Balzer & Bray; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Your buffalo is growing up. He plays with friends. He shares his toys. He’s smart! But is he ready for kindergarten? (And is kindergarten ready for him?)

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? is a hilarious look at first-day-of-school jitters from author Audrey Vernick and illustrator Daniel Jennewein.

Add this book to your collection: Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

Kindergarten CatKindergarten Cat

by J. Patrick Lewis (Author), Ailie Busby (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (July 27, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Here’s the purr-fect read-aloud for kindergarteners!

When Mr. Bigbuttons finds a tiny stray kitty cat outside near the jungle gym, he knows exactly where to bring it—into the kindergarten classroom, of course. And so the children welcome their newest classmate, name her Tinker Toy, and share their circle time spots with her. Tinker Toy fits right in, even answering Teacher’s questions with a loud “Meow!”

J. Patrick Lewis is one of the most renowned children’s poets writing today, and he has created a real gem. His simple rhyming text demands to be read aloud—and the large type and bright, irresistible illustrations by Ailie Busby make this a fantastic book for story time in classrooms and libraries.

Add this book to your collection: Kindergarten Cat

Elementary School

1+1=5: and Other Unlikely Additions1+1=5: and Other Unlikely Additions

by David LaRochelle (Author), Brenda Sexton (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 5-7

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Sterling (September 7, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: How much is 1+1? Think the answer is 2? Not always, as this playful approach to addition proves! David LaRochelle takes children on a joyful mathematical journey that will engage their minds and teach them to think about numbers in a creative, outside-the-box way.

Brenda Sexton’s wild and wacky illustrations add layers of witty fun to LaRochelle’s clever game.

These wacky equations don’t add up…or DO THEY?
1 goat + 1 unicorn = 3 horns!
1 set of triplets + 1 set of twins = 5 babies!
1 duet + 1 quartet = 6 musicians!
1 ant + 1 spider = 14 legs!
1 century + 1 decade = 110 years!

Add this book to your collection: 1+1=5: and Other Unlikely Additions

Dear TeacherDear Teacher

by Amy Husband

Reading level: Ages 5-8

Paperback: 24 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Synopsis: In his witty letters (sometimes half-eaten by crocodiles) Michael explains that he really wants to come to school but the Secret Service has recruited him to rescue a lost explorer on Mount Everest. His adventures continue from there to include a treasure map, a pirate king, and a rocket to the moon on a mission for NASA. But Michael gets a surprise when he receives his teacher’s clever response to his letters. The unique envelope closure for the book completes the package!

Originally published in the UK, Dear Teacher has been shortlisted for both the 2010 Cambridgeshire “Read it Again!” Children’s Book Awards and the 2010 Sheffield Children’s Book Award, both child-selected awards.

Add this book to your collection: Dear Teacher

Super Fly Guy (Scholastic Reader Level 2)Super Fly Guy

by Tedd Arnold

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Cartwheel Books; 1st paperbach printing edition (May 1, 2009)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: The second book in a humorous, award-winning series about a boy and his pet fly is now available as a Level 2 reader!

Fly Guy loves the school lunchroom. But when the lunch ladies discover there’s a fly in the cafeteria, chaos ensues!

Using hyperbole, puns, slapstick, and silly drawings, bestselling author/illustrator Tedd Arnold creates an easy-to-read story that is full of fun and excitement.

Have you heard the buzz? The first book in the Fly Guy series, Hi! Fly Guy, is a Theodor Seuss Geisel honor book.

Add this book to your collection: Super Fly Guy

The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary SchoolThe Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

by Candace Fleming

Reading level: Ages 7-11

Hardcover: 176 pages

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Here’s a chapter book with all the kid appeal and absurd mayhem of Louis Sachar’s classic Sideways Stories from Wayside School! These hilarious fables, complete with morals, will make you wish you went to Aesop Elementary.

Welcome back to Mr. Jupiter’s inimitable class at Aesop Elementary. His rambunctious, special students are fifth graders now . . . and they rule the school! Bernadette Braggadoccio stirs things up when her probing investigative reporting for the school’s TV station reveals some scandalous stuff. But . . . don’t believe everything you hear. Is that new art teacher really a crazy lady with zillions of cats, or could there be more to this story?

For their last year at Aesop, the fifth graders are hoping for the coolest class pet—a unicorn, a pink-headed duck, or at least a giant squid. Imagine their disappointment when they get guinea pigs. But . . . appearances can be deceiving. These guinea pigs have some very unusual traits.

So whether readers knew Mr. Jupiter’s class back in fourth grade or are new to Aesop Elementary, they’ll be chomping at the bit to join these fabled fifth graders for the zaniest school year ever.

Add this book to your collection: The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

Middle School

How to Survive Middle SchoolHow to Survive Middle School

by Donna Gephart

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old David Greenberg dreams of becoming a TV superstar like his idol, Jon Stewart. But in real life, David is just another kid terrified of starting his first year at Harman Middle School. With a wacky sense of humor and hilarious Top 6½ Lists, David spends his free time making Talk Time videos, which he posts on YouTube. But before he can get famous, he has to figure out a way to deal with:

6. Middle school (much scarier than it sounds!)
5. His best friend gone girl-crazy
4. A runaway mom who has no phone!
3. The threat of a swirlie on his birthday
2. A terrifying cousin
1. His # 1 fan, Bubbe (his Jewish grandmother)
1/2. Did we mention Hammy, the hamster who’s determined to break David’s heart?

When David and his best friend have a fight, David is lucky enough to make a pretty cool new friend, Sophie–who just (gulp) happens to be a girl. Sophie thinks David’s videos are hilarious, and she starts sending out the links to everyone she knows. Sophie’s friends tell their friends, and before David knows it, thousands of people are viewing his videos–including some of the last people he would have expected.

David may still feel like a real-life schmo, but is he ready to become an Internet superstar?

Add this book to your collection: How to Survive Middle School

Word After Word After WordWord After Word After Word

by Patricia Maclachlan

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Hardcover: 128 pages

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; 1 edition (May 18, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Every school day feels the same for fourth graders Lucy and Henry and Evie and Russell and May. Then Ms. Mirabel comes to their class—bringing magical words and a whole new way of seeing and understanding.

From beloved author Patricia MacLachlan comes an honest, inspiring story about what is real and what is unreal, and about the ways that writing can change our lives and connect us to our own stories—word after word after word.

Add this book to your collection: Word After Word After Word

Noonie's MasterpieceNoonie’s Masterpiece

by Lisa Railsback

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Hardcover: 208 pages

Publisher: Chronicle Books (February 24, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Fantastic illustrations with a fresh, contemporary look enrich this debut novel about a 10-year-old aspiring artist stuck living with an aunt, uncle, and cousin who clearly don’t recognize her genius. A humorous and heartfelt reminder that “a brilliant artist is never afraid,” this book reveals that sometimes our greatest masterpieces are the bonds we unexpectedly forge with the people in our lives.

Add this book to your collection: Noonie’s Masterpiece

Big Nate: In a Class by HimselfBig Nate: In a Class by Himself

by Lincoln Peirce

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (March 23, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Big Nate is in a class by himself!

But things don’t always go your way just because you’re awesome.

  • Nate barely survives his dad’s toxic oatmeal before rushing off to school—minus his lunch.
  • He body slams the no-nonsense principal.
  • He accidentally insults his least favorite teacher, the horrifying Mrs. Godfrey (aka Godzilla).
  • And school has barely started!

Nate keeps his cool. He knows he’s destined for greatness. A fortune cookie told him so.

For fans of the ever popular, ever hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid series: Get ready to meet Big Nate!

Add this book to your collection: Big Nate: In a Class by Himself

The Witchy Worries of Abbie AdamsThe Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

by Rhonda Hayter

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: Dial (April 1, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Abbie Adams and her family come from a long line of witches, and she’s having a tough time keeping it a secret from her best friend and the rest of her school. Especially the day her little brother morphs into a wolf and tries to eat his teacher.

That’s also the day her father brings home a kitten. Abbie’s been begging for a cat for months, and she falls in love with that fluffy fuzzball right away. But there’s something peculiar about this kitten, and it just might take a witch like Abbie to figure out what it is.

Add this book to your collection: The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

The School of PossibilitiesThe School of Possibilities

by Seita Parkkola

Reading level: Ages 9 and up

Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Storm is being forced to attend the School of Possibilities for troubled youth. But Storm notices that something strange is going on at his new school. The students are not…normal.

Soon he’s being spied on, followed by classmates-and worst of all, forced to accept the headmaster’s perfectly behaved daughter as his girlfriend. He can feel himself becoming more obedient, more like his classmates. Storm tries to resist, but he doesn’t understand how or why the school is controlling him.

Can Storm escape-or will he be turned into a zombie of “good” behavior like everyone else around him?

Add this book to your collection: The School of Possibilities


The Great Eight: Management Strategies for the Reading and Writing ClassroomThe Great Eight: Management Strategies for the Reading and Writing Classroom

by Pam Allyn, Jaime Margolies, Karen McNally

Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Teaching Resources (Theory an (June 1, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Synopsis: Maximize your classroom productivity with management techniques that enhance student learning and achievement. Full-color photographs from veteran teachers Pam Allyn, Jaime Margolies, and Karen McNally showcase eight easy-to-implement management strategies and dozens of innovative, practical ideas, each accompanied by the authors’ explicit, easy-to-follow instructions. From arranging furniture and creating kid-friendly storage space to designing flexible teaching areas and planning schedules, the authors show teachers how to create a highly productive classroom environment. They also describe classroom-tested routines for reading and writing instruction—whole class, small group, and independent practice—including the read-aloud, spelling and word work, and across-the-curriculum integration. Their beautiful photographs and practical solutions to everyday challenges will inform and inspire all year long! For use with Grades K–2.

Add this book to your collection: The Great Eight: Management Strategies for the Reading and Writing Classroom

Leave us a comment: Which book is your favorite back-to-school read? Or, for all you teachers, tell us about your favorite classroom read?

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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