stories for the adventure that is school (or any other big life-changing adventure)

Savannah is off to pre-school this year, and William and Ivy start Kindy. In honour of these major life moments, here's a small collection of books that are lovely to read in the first week or two of school. I hope you find something that feels right for your new (or returning) school kid.

I’m going to read Off to School Baby Duck to all three of our new school kids via Marco Polo this week too. It’s a cute story of a baby duck who is scared to go to school but, predictably, has a good day. It was a favourite for their fathers long ago—mostly out of print now, but full of nostalgia for our family.

I hope the first week of school* goes smoothly if you have a little person you love who is starting that big adventure!

* School in Australia runs on the calendar year, but even if you’re well and truly settled into the routine now, I’m sure you’ll enjoy those stories.

a tender ode to the mutual 'ownership' that comes from unhurried and uncomplicated friendships

a tender ode to the mutual 'ownership' that comes from unhurried and uncomplicated friendships

ages 2 to 8 years
Ownership is one of childhood’s most profound experiences. Ownership of treasures found, gifts, emotions, and relationships all contribute to a growing sense of self and a sense of interconnectedness.

Jose Saramago*, Portugese novelist, anarcho-communist and political agitator, wrote “Liking is probably the best form of ownership, and ownership is probably the worst form of liking.” That strikes a familiar chord when thinking about children and 

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honouring the simple, unconditional (sometimes intense!) childhood love of fabric-friends

honouring the simple, unconditional (sometimes intense!) childhood love of fabric-friends

ages 2 to 6 years
When Ivy was a newborn, some ladies from Church gave her a cuddly pink bunny blanket with her name on it. She was never the best sleeper, so ‘bunny’ became a wonderful tool for comforting/settling—we couldn't (wouldn’t) go anywhere without her.

Ivy is now 4-years-old, but bunny still means the world to her. She doesn’t need her for comfort now, but the friend who helped her through so many difficult times still holds immense value. I think that’s why she loves Guff

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a beautifully illustrated call to be wary of first impressions—and to seek out the best in life

a beautifully illustrated call to be wary of first impressions—and to seek out the best in life

ages 2—8 years
There’s a scene in Emma (by Jane Austen), where Emma is talking to her friend (or plaything depending on your viewpoint) Harriet about a proposal. Emma says, ‘You must be the judge of your own happiness.’—and then proceeds to tell her how to judge her happiness!

Most of us are spared an Emma in our lives—we mostly judge our own happiness and find our own way. But sometimes we can be so secure in our current happiness that it becomes difficult to envision a different happiness.Children are prone to this too.

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a tender hearted look at dementia and the beauty of a life lived with simple pleasures

a tender hearted look at dementia and the beauty of a life lived with simple pleasures

ages 4 to 12 years
Angela—who gets up before daybreak—waits for a special visitor. As she waits she bakes shortbread cookies, the ‘lovely sweet smell’ reminding her of her childhood. ‘That’s why she makes them so often.’

She becomes anxious as she waits and, with ‘her heart lurching in all directions’, she tries playing along to a quiz game on television. ‘That’s when she hears a small voice behind her 

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a lyric look at life’s unexpected moments, friends, rescuers, and the wonders of finding beauty

a lyric look at life’s unexpected moments, friends, rescuers, and the wonders of finding beauty

ages 2 to 8 years
If there is one certainty over the course of a lifetime, any lifetime, it's that there will always be something unexpected coming. Sometimes it’s a storm and sometimes it’s the ‘most beautiful sound’ we’ve ever heard. Alfred Fiddleduckling experiences both.

Alfred is a soon-to-hatch-egg when the story begins, safely nestled in a fiddle case on a sweet little boat loaded with new ducks for the Captain’s home

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an ode to dads and the value of a simple childhood

an ode to dads and the value of a simple childhood

ages 2 to 8 years—and dads!
Sam introduces us to his whole family, Mum, brother Leon, and Dad, and tells us about the things he does with his Dad. They’re simple things—the stuff of a blessedly ordinary childhood.... As he shares his life, we see the love and admiration Sam has for Dad but even more, we see the love Dad has for his family.

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a profound exploration of death and the intertwining of grief and joy

a profound exploration of death and the intertwining of grief and joy

ages 6 years to adult
Because grief, when it visits, consumes us and seems to blanket all the world in sadness, our inclination is to shield children from its depths, or to show them how to escape as quickly as possible. It’s a strange, if quintessentially human, response. Our great love for the children we care about motivates us but 

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gift idea for Valentine's Day—or for every day you want to celebrate kissing

gift idea for Valentine's Day—or for every day you want to celebrate kissing

Do you do Valentine’s Day? It’s not huge in Australia relative to say, America, but it's getting bigger every year. We’re pretty hit-and-miss at our house, but one year I nailed it: I left a copy of I Love Kissing You on Roger’s pillow.

This is a sweet and simple book about enduring, grown-up love.

 

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