If you have a child who is starting school this year now is the time to start reading picture books about characters who are also going through the same experience. In I am TOO absolutely small for school we love the conversations between Lola and her big brother Charlie about her thoughts and reasons for not wanting to (or even needing!) to start school!
The Story: Lola is talking to Charlie about why she is still too small to go to school. She’s too busy doing important things at home, she doesn’t need to learn to count any further than ten and can talk on the phone instead of learning to write. Eventually she agrees to go because her imaginary friend Soren Lorenson is going. And of course she has a wonderful first day!
The story focuses on questions and worries that child may have before their first day of school including eating school dinners, wearing a uniform and making friends. Lauren Child addresses the seriousness of Lola’s questions in a humorous way and in her own inimitable style Lola has an answer for everything! Lola is surprised when Charlie says she can’t phone Father Christmas so she’ll need to learn how to write letters and she also acknowledges that it could be useful to learn to read a bedtime story to an ogre. The thought of Soren Lorenson going to school without her changes Lola’s mind and, although there are no classroom scenes in the story, the final page shows Lola reassuring Charlie that she was fine on her first day.
The text is fun to read and includes many of Lola’s inimitable phrases and mispronounced words, we find ‘schooliform’ very funny and Lola is reassured when she hears that she doesn’t need to wear one. Our daughter loves Lola’s choice of school outfit (which Charlie manages to dissuade her from wearing!) it’s one of the funniest pictures in the book!
I would definitely include I am TOO absolutely small for school in a list of books to prepare a child for the experience. Lola’s concerns and worries can stimulate discussions about any fears and questions that a child may have. From a teacher’s point of view I find that one of the most stressful experiences for new school starters is lunchtime and the idea of eating with others. In the story Charlie allays Lola’s fears by explaining that she can also take a packed lunch and doesn’t have to eat a school dinner. This is also a great book for an Early Years teacher to read to a new class so that s/he can recognise, and help, a child with any concerns that they may have.
Lauren Child has managed to introduce and explain a familiar childhood experience using humour and originality. The fact that familiar characters were discussing the situation certainly helped to answer some of our daughter’s questions about school and prepare her for her first day..
Author / Illustrator: Lauren Child