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A Word from Pat Scales

August: Everything School-Related

July 31, 2012

August: Everything School-Related

Regardless of whether school begins in August or after Labor Day, students approach August with the realization that summer vacation is about to end.  Many schools offer back to school information sessions for parents and students – school supply lists, curriculum offerings, school safety tips, menus for the school lunch program, after school activities, field trips, information about clubs and student and government, etc.  Much of this information is sometimes delivered via the school’s website and at an open house when families can visit the school and meet the teachers.  Public libraries have a roll too.  Summer reading programs are winding down by August, and kids welcome an opportunity to stay involved at the library.  Consider sponsoring special programming for school-age children and teens that help them focus on a positive school experience.  Here are a few ideas:

  •  Many students approach school with anticipation, but some experience school anxiety.  Lighten up the beginning of school by introducing some humorous books.  Suggestions from Random House include:

  Junie B., First Grader (at Last) (ages 6-8) by Barbara Park & illus. by Denise Brunkus

                    The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room (ages 7-9) by Patricia Reilly Giff & illus. by Blanche Sims

                                               How to Survive Middle School (Without Getting Your Head Flushed), Deal with an Ex-Best Friend, um, GIRLS, and a Heartbreaking Hamster (ages 8-12) by Donna Gephart.

                       The Fabled Fourth-Graders of Aesop Elementary School and The Fabled Fifth-Graders of Aesop Elementary School (ages 7-12) by Candace Fleming.

  •  Have readers make a poster on School Bus safety that features a favorite main character.  Get them started by introducing the following books:

                     The Berenstain Bears Catch the Bus (ages 4-6) by Jan & Stan Berenstain

                      Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (ages 6-8) by Barbara Park & illus. by Denise Brunkus

  •  Talk about students’ favorite Field Trips.  Divide readers into groups and ask them to plan a local Field Trip for each subject area.  Suggest that they read the following books from Random House:

                     Scat  (ages 8-12) by Carl Hiaasen

                    The Sixty-eight Rooms (ages 8-12) by Marianne Malone & illus. by Greg  Call

  • Talk about healthy School Lunches and have them plan a different menu for each day in the school week.  Then introduce the following book as an example as an alternative lunch experience:

                     When You Reach Me (ages 8-12) by Rebecca Stead

  • Have readers suggest activities for an After School Program.   Younger readers will enjoy reading about kids in the following after school program:

                    The Zigzag Kids series (ages 6-9) by Patricia Reilly Giff

  • Talk about the purpose of Student Government and why such an organization is important.  Suggest the following books from Random House:

                        Rosie Swanson: Fourth-Grade Geek for President (ages 8-12) by Barbara    Park.

                    Class President (ages 8-12) by Louis Sachar & illus. by Amy Wummer.

  • Ask readers if they have ever taken part in Field Day.  Have them plan a Field Day activity for their school.  Younger readers will enjoy the following book:

         Junie B. Jones is Captain of Field Day (ages 6-8) by Barbara Park & illus. by Denise Brunkus.

  • Have readers to think about the good reasons for using the School Library.  Introduce the following book:

                 Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I Don’t)  (ages 6-9) by Barbara Bottner &  illus.  by Michael Emberley.

  • What are some Special School Programs that they have enjoyed?  Maybe it’s an author visit, or a special speaker.  They will find great joy in the following:

                    Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta (ages 7-10) by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

  • Suggest that older readers locate a book that fits each of the following subjects:

                  Reading

                 Language Arts

                 Math

                 Social Studies

                 Science

                 Foreign Language

                 Music

                 Art

                 Drama

                 Physical Education


  • Challenge all readers to think creatively and critically by asking them to name a favorite main character and share what subject they would especially excel in.  Suggestions from Random House include:

             Autumn Winifred Oliver from Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different  (ages 8-12) by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb.

            Lydia from Child of the Mountains (ages 9-up) by Marilyn Sue Shank.

             Deza Malone from The Mighty Miss Malone (ages 10-up) by Christopher Paul Curtis.

            Hollis Woods from Pictures of Hollis Woods (ages 9-12) by Patricia Reilly Gif.f

            Darnell from Darnell Rock Reporting (ages 8-12) by Walter Dean Myers.

            Brian from Brian’s Hunt, Brian’s Return, Brian’s Winter and The River (ages 9-12) by Gary Paulsen.

           Juli Baker from Flipped   (ages 10-up) by Wendelin Van Draanen

               Leon  from How to Get Suspended and Influence People (ages 12-up) by Adam Selzer.

            Jerry Renault from The Chocolate War (ages 14-up) by Robert Cormier.