There's something about a new pencil.
Its eraser is clean and unsmudged and waiting to help you fix mistakes. On the other end, a nice, sharp point feels like a sign of things to come. A new pencil is all wood and possibilities for a good school year, and so are these great back-to-school books for all ages ...
For 4-to-6-year-olds who love to read, dance, act, and do crafts, a trip to the library with "The Sublime Ms. Stacks" by Robb Pearlman, illustrated by Dani Jones (Bloomsbury, $17.99) may be the thing that makes them smile.
This is the story of Mr. Stephen, who seems to be uncomfortable with his job as librarian. So, when the kids come to the library looking for fun, he asks Ms. Stacks to help (nudge, wink), and she brings glitter, rainbows, exciting stories, and two friends along to make the library the place to be! If your kids have ever been to Drag Storytime, or if a fabuloussurprise day at the library sounds perfect, this is a colorful back-to-school book they'll love.
Though the title might suggest otherwise, "The Art of Teaching Children" by Phillip Done(Avid Reader Press, $30.00) is not just a book for teachers.
From the first day of school to next spring, Done takes readers on a journey that starts every morning before first bell and keeps kids excited to learn all day. But this book isn't just about life at school: Done also touches upon the night-before-school jitters, parental responsibility, bullying, kids and phones, kids and television, and unique ways to teach children at home. Teachers will also be glad to know that he doesn't forget their personal lives – pride, long days, and burn-out – are also addressed here.
If you're a new teacher, a returning teacher, if you want to help the educators in your child's school, or if you just want an eye-opening book about education today, this is the book to find.
Here's another eye-opener: "The Real World of College: What Higher Education is and What it Can Be" by Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner (MIT Press, $34.95), a book that's based on thousands of interviews with college students at 10 varied institutions around the U.S., where the authors discovered that students have focuses and concerns that don't mirror what we've been told are their preoccupations. What's more, today's college students struggle with complicated mental health issues, a keener concern over their futures than ever before, and pressures that their parents never imagined.
Be aware that this book about academia is... well, it's very academic and requires time and thought to tackle. Still, if you're sending a child to college this year or next, this could help you both.
The good news is that if these back-to-school books aren't exactly what you need, your favorite librarian or bookseller can help. Wherever they are, help you find a wide range of books for any student, any learning situation, and any school, as well as books for after-school.
Pencil in a trip there soon.