Congratulations! You’ve made it through Christmas and New Year celebrations and now we’re heading right on into ‘Back to School Season’. The girls’ book packs for this year arrived just a few days before Christmas so as soon as the Christmas tree was packed away, the school books were unpacked. ChickPea is going into Year Two and has done a very impressive job with painting all her book covers this year. The one featuring my go-to cookbook at the moment, ‘Simple’ by Yotam Ottolenghi is my favourite and I’ve very much considered ripping it off and framing it! She’s promised me she will re-paint it for me and I shall keep badgering her until this happens. Anyone else seeing Ottlenghi at the Powerhouse in January?!
PudStar is going into Year Six and is FAR TOO COOL to paint her covers anymore so she spent TOO MUCH TIME choosing the exact right wrapping paper to cover her books and then I outsourced her to a dear friend for 24 hours for a wrapping and contacting party. Praise Be for the whole ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ thing. If you are are in charge of contacting, my now retired wonderful library technician Julie wrote me a post here with her contacting tips.
New lunchboxes (if needed) always feature under the Christmas tree in our household, I’m a fan of a useful gift. This year our lunchboxes are from Name My Stuff which does this supremely cool personalization ‘thing’ and the names NEVER COME OFF (ever). The owner, Tea, is incredibly helpful and as one of my children is fussy in the extreme and has eaten approximately one school lunch ever, she spent a long time with her showing all options and features and working out might may be a good fit lunchbox for her. I live in hope! Name My Stuff is both online and instore (Oxley Road, Sherwood, Brisbane) and you can see their range here.
Lime Tree Kids is my other go-to for back to school supplies and their Sinchies range is great. We also have the MontiiCo smoothie cups and they have CHANGED MY LIFE – how pretty are they – pictured above on my bench. Okay they have just lessened the screaming in the mornings, which is pretty much changing my life. When we need to be out by 6:30am, I make a fruit, oats, yoghurt (chia if I’m feeling brave and can smoosh them enough that the kids won’t detect them) smoothie and take them all in the car. There is no condensation on the outside for small children to scream about and the smoothie stays cold for hours. My children take an insanely long time to wake up (they take after their father) and breakfast can take 45 minutes which I simply do not have on work mornings.
The girls have made beeswax wraps with Nonna for this year, but I can recommend the beeswax wraps from Biome – I have some still going strong from two years ago.
Just sticking for a minute with useful school items, I darned well love a good waterproof bag for all manner of foul things – mostly sporting things like wet towels, shoes and socks and stinking (holy hell stinking) taekwondo wraps and punching pads. These waterproof bags from Jamberry in many glorious colours are on my ‘must buy several ASAP’ list.With lunchboxes and text books sorted, I turn now to my favourite books about school-related topics such as starting school, the politics of the playground, anxiety and friendships. Whether they are super confident, or feeling apprehensive, children’s books are a great way to introduce new experiences such as starting school or going back to school. Books are a way of entering the world of the classroom from the safety of a bedroom or the lap of a loved parent or grandparent.
Click on title links or cover images to purchase.
Books for Starting School and Early Years of School
‘First Day’ (2013), written by Andrew Daddo and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley, Harper Collins.
‘I am Too Absolutely Small for School’ (2003) written and illustrated by Lauren Child, Candlewick Press.
‘Grug Goes to School’ (2009), written and illustrated by Ted Prior.
‘Starting School’ (1988), written by Janet Ahlberg and illustrated by Allan Ahlberg, Viking.
‘Do I Have to Go to School’ (2006), written by Pat Thomas and illustrated by Lesley Harker, Hodder Children’s Press.
‘Fiona the Pig’s Big Day’ (2006), written and illustrated by Leigh Hobbs, Penguin Books. CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT – borrow from your local library.
‘I Don’t Want to Go to School’ (2000), written by Christine Harris and Craig Smith, Random House Australia. CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT – borrow from your local library.
‘Millie Starts School’ (2001), written by Jane Godwin and illustrated by David Cox, Puffin. CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT – borrow from your local library.
Books About School Friendships and Feelings
‘Jessica’s Box’ (2008), Written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas, New Frontier Press. CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT – borrow from your local library.
‘Hey Warrior’ and ‘Hey Awesome’ by psychologist Karen Young (illustrated by Norvile Dovidonyte) are wonderful for a in-depth but child friendly explanation of anxiety, how to calm it and even its role in you being an awesome kid. These books have blown me away – I could sing their praises for days and I use them with children from 6 to 16.
‘The Terrible Suitcase’ (2012), written by Emma Allen and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, Omnibus Books. Read my full review of this one here. I love this one for those feelings of ‘I just want to look like the other kids’.
‘Twig’ (2015), Aura Parker, Scholastic Press Australia is a gorgeous one about being yourself and standing out in the crowd. My full review and craft activity is here. There are also some great downloads at Aura Parker’s website here.
And for the Tweens and Teens?
I can’t recommend ‘Find Your Tribe’ by Rebecca Sparrow highly enough. She has a range of books aimed at tweens and teens and another on the way I believe, but this one is just perfect for a child entering high school. Bec also has an online course called ‘The Lighthouse Plan’ which I was a beta-tester for and it was just amazing – it aims to form stronger connections between parents and their tweens and teens. The next round of ‘The Lighthouse Plan’ starts soon and you can read more here.