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11 Animal Stories to help First Day Nerves

February 1, 2020
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Across Australia this week children have started or are starting a new school year. For some that might be daunting. Who better to help manage their anxiety than a friendly or familiar animal character?

Many young readers will know Fiona the tidy pig, created by Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs. Fiona the Pig’s Big Day shares details of this cheerful pig’s first day at school. Look out for the sweet note in her lunchbox.

Another lovely picture book which may help anxious students (and parents) is My First Day at School by award-winning Rosie Smith and Bruce Whatley.

I love the way this story includes a variety of animals, encouraging readers to make friends with those who might be different; whether big or small, feathered or furry. Using animal characters rather than humans makes the story inclusive of children from any background.

After the animals get ready for school, they enjoy activities that are common to many junior classrooms, helping children know what to expect. The octopus finger painting looks fun.

So many animal characters are out there ready to help anxious kids prepare for their first day. In A Tiger Tail by Mike Boldt, Anya wakes up and discovers that she has grown a tail. Are children with tails allowed to go to school? And there are more ‘First Day’ titles …

The following books feature all kinds of creatures including a sloth, snake, stick insect, wombat, pigeon, tortoise, panda, dinosaur, hippo, and more; First Day Critter Jitters, Twig, Wombat Goes to School, The Pigeon HAS to go to School, Back to School Tortoise, Chu’s First Day at School, We Don’t Eat our Classmates, Look, There’s a Hippopotamus in the Playground Eating Cake.

Any of these anthropomorphic picture books could be read before school begins and again at the end of the first week of school as well, sparking discussions about what did happen at school and ways your child’s experience was the same or different to those of the story animals.

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