Review: The Playground Problem & Starting School

I have two lovely books to review this week on the topic of adjusting to life at school.   Some kids seem to fly into the school yard and never look back; for others, it can be really difficult to get used to being away from home and learn to negotiate playground politics!

The Playground Problem by Sally Rippin is part of the brilliant ‘Hey Jack’ series of books aimed at boys, but great for any early readers.  Each book helps young Jack through one of the trickier aspects of early childhood, like sleepovers, sports competitions and school work challenges.   The Playground Problem sees Jack in a ‘lonely mood’.  His best friend Billie, who he plays with every day, is home sick from school and Jack is at a bit of a loss. School feels longer and more boring than usual without Billie to talk to – and there is no one to play with at recess.  Luckily, a boy named Alex is just busting to show someone the ant’s nest he’s found!  It turns out that Alex is pretty fun to hang out with. But what will happen when Billie comes back?  Can you share your very best friend with someone else?  This is an engaging tale about friendship dynamics and the (mis)understanding of the notion of  ‘best friends’ that seems very common in the early school grades.  Simple language, short chapters and bold, clear font makes this series ideal for class reading lists and libraries, or for encouraging early readers at home.  It’s age appropriate for around 5-7 years old, depending on your child’s reading level.



Starting School Starting School by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker is a colourful picture book that introduces children to the things they’re likely to encounter in their first days of school.   Meet Tim, Hannah, Sunita, Joe and Polly – they’re all feeling a little bit differently about what it will be like to be a school kid! Polly really likes her new bag tag, while Tim is making sure he can open his own lunch box.  Hannah feels excited on her first day, but Sunita notices that she doesn’t know anyone.  This book addresses all the little things that can become big issues when starting school, with page headings and clear illustrations for pre-readers. ‘Getting to know people’ covers the daunting task of learning names and faces.  ‘In the classroom’ talks about the general rules that make school life easier, like looking after your own things and putting your hand up when you want to talk.   The book is full of friendly faces and realistic situations that are new to most kids, like lunch orders , show and tell and homework.  Importantly, it demonstrates that it’s ok to have fears and concerns and highlights ways that these can be addressed, like talking to the teacher or friends.  It also shows that every child has different concerns and abilities, but that the whole class will be moving forward together on their learning journey.  Highly recommended for preschoolers.  Put it on your Christmas present list if your child is off to school next year!

The Playground Problem is published by Hardie Grant Egmont while Starting School is a new release from Penguin Australia.  I thank them both kindly for my review copies.

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7 comments for “Review: The Playground Problem & Starting School

  1. August 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Both of these books look good in their own way. Oh, the best friends issue!!!!

  2. August 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Sounds like two great books to read!! I love reading, mind you I haven’t had lots of time for that lately 🙂
    I think the Playground Problem Book should be read to boys before they go to school, or at least it would have helped when my older two boys were younger 🙂

  3. August 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I never knew these existed – thanks for sharing – I think I will need it when my VERY sensitive middle boy starts school! xx

  4. August 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Good timing for the starting school review…all that transition stuff is about to begin…

    • This Charming Mum
      August 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Yes, it’s about now that people start thinking about how to get the little ones adjusted.

  5. August 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    These look perfect for my boys, especially the 8 yr old who is finding other kids a bit of a challenge at the moment. Thanks for sharing!

    • This Charming Mum
      August 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Yes, it depends on the reading level, but I think these sort of quirky books that introduce kids to social problems in a way that’s not too teacherly are a great idea. Sorry you’re son’s having some trouble with that side of things. My oldest daughter is too. Hard work for parents when they’re sad/uncomfortable eh?

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