School in Children’s Books

Dear Reader,

Have you ever noticed how kids’ books talk about school? And how it changes as the kids grow? The first books for kids, for kindergartners or even pre-schoolers, are of the “Franklin’s First Day” type. They assume the child is nervous about going to school, and they show how the main character learns that his teacher is nice, makes new friends, and has fun in school. The message is: school is great. Don’t be afraid.

But then kids get older and there is a new genre of school books. In these books the main character knows school is bad. There are problems at school, often a bully or a mean teacher is involved. Often the character doesn’t have friends or at least has problems with friends. Do you notice what’s happened? We have gone from telling the youngest children just entering school that it is wonderful and there os no reason to be afraid to admitting to the slightly oder children that school is tough. And it is usually in these books the social environment, not the academics, which is at issue.

So, my question is: why are we lying to the little ones?? Because I think that is what is going on here. We tell thme school is great and everything will be okay, and then a year or two later we find ourselves telling them, yes, I know there are bullies. Yes, it is hard to make and keep friends. Maybe even your teacher doesn’t like you. I am a big fan of trying not to lie to kids. We don’t do Santa for that reason. So whay are we deceiving kids here? What’s the point? If kindergartners wouldn’t go to school without this false assurance, maybe they shouldn’t go at all.

Nebby

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