Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: The Twelve Days of Kindergarten Series

Writing about school-related books reminded me of a picture book series my son and I read over and over again a few years back. Deborah Lee Rose’s The Twelve Days of Kindergarten, The Twelve Days of Winter, and The Twelve Days of Springtime portray a kindergarten classroom over the course of a typical school year. As the titles suggest, the books follow the counting pattern of the familiar Christmas song. (“On the first day of kindergarten, my teacher gave to me the whole alphabet from A to Z. On the second day of kindergarten, my teacher gave to me two picture books and the whole alphabet from A to Z…”) A nice variation from most counting books, the Twelve Days books give kids practice counting backwards and building their memories as the list of “gifts” grows from one item to twelve.

Carey Armstrong-Ellis’s hilarious illustrations are the reason my son and I returned to these books again and again. The same eight students are pictured throughout the series (how’s that for a student-teacher ratio?), and each student displays his or her unique personality in an entirely age-appropriate way. Your child will enjoy predicting what new trouble the two roughhousing boys will create, what elaborate outfit the fancy girl will wear, how the horse-loving girl will express her passion, and whether the shy girl will come out from behind the teacher’s back or the nose-picking boy will ever get his finger unstuck. Observant readers can even guess the narrator’s identity. Armstrong-Ellis clearly knows her way around a kindergarten classroom. Her illustrations incorporate charmingly familiar details like an alphabet chart and various supplies stored in cubbies or shelved behind handmade curtains. The classroom gradually descends into chaos as each book progresses. The supplies come off the shelves, hamsters Chuck and Joe become Chuck and Josephine and breed offspring that escape from their cage, and a deceptively quiet student invites outdoor animals into the classroom. You get the sense that the teacher, who looks to be a seasoned pro with a youthful spirit (check out those earrings), finds this group of students more challenging than most.

I highly recommend these books for your preschool or kindergarten child. Older kids might enjoy reading them aloud to younger siblings or just reminiscing about the good old days of kindergarten.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I hadn't seen it and it is hilarious!