By Mama Love
It was the first day of preschool for my 4-year old. She wore her pink lollipop shirt, jean shorts and café-colored cowboy boots. She seemed confident and ready for school. The big question on my mind, though, was: Was I ready?
I felt she would adapt quickly because of her outgoing personality, but there was still some nervousness. After all, the minute one child begins to cry in the classroom, it can cause a ripple effect. My daughter was warmly welcomed by the teacher and, without hesitation, sat on the carpet with the other children. The parents gathered around and waited for instructions.
Everything was routine in a good way: introductions were made, rules were explained and kids were excited to get started.
Then the teacher explained that school was for kids, not adults (the sign for parents to get ready to leave.) She asked for everyone’s attention, including the adults, and pulled out her “first day of school” book called The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
The Kissing Hand is about a mama raccoon and her son, Chester Raccoon, who is starting school. Chester is a little scared about his first day of school and wants to stay home with his mother. She assures him he’ll love school and promises he’ll have new friends, toys and books. Even better, she has a special secret that’s been in the family for years — the Kissing Hand. She takes his hand and kisses his palm, right in the very middle. Chester feels his mother’s kiss rush up his hand, his arm and into his heart. Mama Raccoon tells Chester that, whenever he feels lonely at school, he just has to press his hand to his cheek to feel his mother’s love.
The book addressed separation anxiety through heartfelt illustration that was calming for the kids. After the teacher finished the book, she asked the children to find his or her parents and kiss the middle of their hands, while we kissed the middle of their hands. She told the children that if they became lonely during class, they could press their hands to their cheeks and feel the love. I could see in my girl’s eyes that she knew how much love was there and that everything would be alright.
Now we will share the memory of this book forever and will remember how it helped to ease the anxiety of starting school. What a difference a book made just by being read aloud.
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This month, we celebrate early reading and want to encourage parents and caregivers to Read Early, Read Aloud with babies, toddlers and preschoolers! You can learn more about Read Early, Read Aloud, including age-appropriate book suggestions, tips for reading with young kids and, soon, local reading events, at the Read Early, Read Aloud pages.
Be sure to enter to win 50 books in our “My Favorite Book” contest. You can play by answering a couple questions here on Ready. Set. Grow! or on Twitter. For full details, visit the “My Favorite Book” contest rules page by clicking here.
- Read Early, Read Aloud: Musical Literacy (readysetgrowla.org)
- PAWS to Read (readysetgrowla.org)
- If Reading Were Like Baseball, We’d Be Rounding Third Base (readysetgrowla.org)
- Sharing in the Joy of Reading: Read Early, Read Aloud (readysetgrowla.org)
- Raising Biliterate, Bilingual Kids Equals Double the Benefits (readysetgrowla.org)