The Picture Book Image of Entering School



Rich, A. & Bernstein, J. (1975). The picture book image of entering school. Language Arts, (7), 978-982.

Although this article was written in 1975, I thought the issue of the first day of school was relevant – and one that could be tackled by librarians, teachers, and parents in a bibliotherapeutic way. Rich and Bernstein addresses this milestone by examining books that fall into three categories. First, the stories are mainly about positive events regarding school, second, the stories are about children being shy and usually involving “minor mishaps” that are quickly dealt with, and third, traumatic events that can be considered “crises” occur for the student. All of these titles in their varying degrees of portrayal of the first day of school can be used for a group of children to explore how they feel about this major event in their lives.

The image of the totally happy initial school experience – These books look at the bright side of life. It helps children look forward to the first day and encourages good feelings and the hope that all will go well.

  1. The Little School at Cottonwood Corners by Eleanor Schick
  2. Andy and the School Bus by Jerrold Beim

The image of minor fears and mishapsThese books explore the first day of school with a little more feeling, and each title has a bit more dimension that the previous category. Characters tend to be shy, or dealing with hiccups in a way that although seem large at the time, they are surmounted.

  1. Children of the Northlights by Edgar Parin d’Aulaire and Ingri d’Aulaire
  2. Kam Lee Comes to School by Ruth Baylor
  3. Will I Have a Friend by Miriam Cohen
  4. Shawn Goes to School by Petronella Breinberg
  5. The Two Friends by Grete Mannheim
  6. Twenty-one Children by Virginia Ormsby
  7. Did You Carry the Flag today Charley? by Rebecca Caudill
  8. A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill
  9. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
  10. Nice Little Girls by Elizabeth Levy
  11. The New Teacher by Miriam Cohen

The image of major crisesMany other stories show an event or day that can be considered a “crisis” to the student. They do show things turning around in the end, but first the child has to undergo development.

  1. A French School for Paul by Mireille Marokvia
  2. Guesses in a Pocket by Rhoda Bacmeister
  3. What’s Wrong with Julio? by Virginia Ormsby
  4. New Boy in School by May Justus
  5. Polly’s Tiger by Joan Phipson
  6. Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
  7. Let’s Be Friends by Bernice Bryant
  8. Bad Boy, Good Boy by Marie Hall Ets

Perhaps what I love most about the titles that the authors have listed above is that they are incredibly diverse. They range the gambit from Laplanders to obese children to being a minority in class. I am working on a list which includes more recent titles to add to this topic, and will post it soon.



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