Home > Fun > Books


Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg — helping with the transition into school

As summer winds down, the beginning of school is on our minds. Not just a new school year, but actually starting school. It is our first child’s first step into real school. It feels very big and grown up. Where has my baby girl gone? I started school in the US at 5 and a half, but in the UK they start school at four — a whole year earlier, so perhaps that is why it seems too soon!  But regardless of her age, she is starting school in one month. And I want to fully embrace this exciting time for her and mark this new beginning with more than just new uniforms or end of the summer playdates. 

So for her Reception year (the equivalent of  US Kindergarten), this book, Starting School, is simply perfect. Beginning school can often seem big and scary for both children and parents, but this book by the Ahlbergs makes everything seem easier. It’s a wonderful book written and illustrated by a husband and wife duo, who are some of my favourite children’s book authors. If you know Peepo!, Each Peach Pear Plum, or The Baby’s Catalogue (all favourites in our house) then you will also love Starting School with the sweet, detailed, and classic illustrations. 

The Ahlbergs wrote this book when their daughter was beginning school, so it is a well considered book. The book takes away those BIG feelings by simplifying things into small ‘bite sized’ pieces. Organised by days, then weeks, it ends with Christmas holidays (hooray for a future holiday to look forward to!). And the daily repitition of routines like eating, storytime, and going home creates a rhythm that makes everything seem manageable. It makes the prospect of school anything but overwhelming. And it is an enjoyable read too, with funny little illustrations to discover which paint a picture of how quirky classmates and silly situations are all part of the school experience too. Very real, and a lot less serious than big school sounds.

We’ve kept this book on our holiday cottage windowsill and we dip into the pages casually, reading it in our pjs both morning and night, rain and shine. Beatrice adores the book, and recently has shown even more interest in reading it. It is as if she knows school is getting closer, and she races into my mom’s room in the morning to jump under the covers and hear it again. Needless to say, she is excited, so perhaps she really is ready… my big girl going to big school. 




Comments (4)

August 18, 2017

Nice book! Actually Reception is the equivalent of US Pre-k, not Kindergarten (I know after moving my kids from the US to the UK, and now we’re back in the US – they have to be 5 to begin Kindergarten). So if it can help you with the mixed feelings, this not the big school yet, you still have a baby girl 🙂

Lara in London
August 29, 2017

Thank you Judith. I have several friends in education here in the UK and in the US, and they have told me it is more like Kindergarten these days, but I am hoping you are the one who is correct! And of course, I still have a baby girl, it just feels BIG 🙂

August 28, 2017

Crazy, in Germany kids don’t start school before they are 6 or even 7! Before that, children can either stay home or go to daycare, which is very popular over here. But still, what are they doing with children so young? I would love to see a lesson!

Lara in London
August 29, 2017

I think it is half a day of learning and half a day of play, but like you, I think 6 or 7 makes more sense and wish it was that way here! Enjoy your smart German school system! xx

Leave a Comment