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Books ease student jitters

As preschool or kindergarten approaches, your soon-to-be students may start getting nervous. Books, especially those that contain relatable characters, may help children process their feelings about leaving their parents and going to school. What questions do your children have? Start a dialogue with them by opening a tome. Here are a few favorites to choose from:

*"Llama Llama Misses Mama" (Viking Juvenile, 2009), written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. On Llama Llama's first day of preschool, Llama Llama is distraught when it's time for Mama Llama to leave. She reassures Llama Llama she will return. Tip: Let your child know that you will go away for a short while, but you will come back.

*"I Love You All Day Long" (HarperCollins, 2004), by Francesca Rusackas and illustrated by Priscilla Burris. When Owen the pig frets about starting preschool, making it for one whole day without his mother, she reassures him that her love goes wherever he goes. The mommy pig imagines him at various points of his day, from making friends to banging cymbals to making messes. Tip: Talk to your child about what he can look forward to, and reassure him you love him even when you're not together. Your child will pick up on your confidence.

*"The Kissing Hand" (Tanglewood Press, 2007), by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak. Chester Raccoon doesn't want to go to school. His mother reassures him that he'll enjoy making friends, but he wants to stay home with her. She shares a special family secret: the Kissing Hand. She spreads her son's fingers into a fan and kisses his palm. Whenever he feels lonely at school, all he has to do is press his hand to his cheek to feel his mommy's love. Tip: Send your child to school with his own secret "Kissing Hand" and a photo of mommy and daddy. Upon departure, give a confident kiss and say goodbye.

*"Wemberly Worried" (Greenwillow Books, 2010), written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Wemberly, a shy white mouse with gray spots, frets. As her first day of nursery school draws near, she's even worrying about the playground equipment. "What if the teacher is mean?" Luckily, her teacher introduces her to a friend on the first day. Tip: Talk to your child about making friends, and set playdates with classmates.

Other choices:

*"First Day Jitters" (Whispering Coyote, 2000), by Julie Danneberg and illustrated by Judy Love. This book is a fun twist; it's not just the students who worry about starting school. The new teacher does, too.

*"Meet the Barkers: Morgan and Moffat Go to School" (Puffin, 2003), written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. Morgan and Moffat, the Barker twin doggies, love school. They get excited as their first day of school approaches. But Moffat is bossy in class and tries to be a teacher's pet. She winds up with lots of gold stars but no friends. Together the doggies realize how to get appropriate recognition in class and make friends.

*"I Am Too Absolutely Small for School" (Candlewick, 2005), a "Charlie and Lola" book written and illustrated by Lauren Child. Charlie's little sister, Lola, decides that while her parents think she is "nearly almost big enough to go to school," she is "absolutely not BIG." Her brother coaxes her into starting school.

*"Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten" (Puffin, 2001), by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff. The book uses rhyme schemes such as an iguana that cries, "I won't go!"

*"Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come!" (Puffin, 2001) by Nancy Carlson. Henry, a mouse, shares his feelings about being nervous, about making new friends, and about meeting the teacher on the first day of kindergarten. When he arrives, he's a bit worried. His apprehensions are overcome when he finds the classroom full of happy kids and fun things to do.

If you have tips or questions, please email or call Parent to Parent at 704-236-9510.

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