Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Perfect Book to Begin the School Year

Last spring I was walking a group of kindergarten students to the speech room when one of them, Andrea, said, “I know a knock, knock joke.”
            “I’d love to hear it,” I answered.
            “Knock, knock.”
            “Who’s there?”
            “Nobody who?”
            “No!” Andrea said. “You can’t ask ‘who’, because nobody’s there.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.” I searched her face, looking for clues. Maybe this was the part of the joke where I was supposed to laugh. I was a little out of practice with knock, knock jokes but she helped me out by repeating, “Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
This time I knew better than to ask. Andrea smiled, delighted I was finally catching on. She knocked again. I asked the question again. She giggled and said, “You got it. There was nobody there.”
Another student, Michael said, “My turn. Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
His mouth tightened into a thin slit and his eyes widened, glistening with a mischievous joy. He couldn’t hold that expression long before he broke into laughter. “Did you get it? Nobody was there!”
Pretty clever for a couple five-year olds.
I suppose these knock, knock jokes came to mind because nobody has been knocking at my speech room door for the last eight weeks. But that is about to change. I return to work on Monday and the kids start school the following week.
Over the summer, I’ve been on the lookout for a few good books to introduce to my students. I found the perfect one to start the school year: “A Dress for Me!” by Sue Fleiss, illustrated by Mike Laughead. My students loved the adorable young hippo from her earlier book, “Shoes for Me!” Now the hippo is back and as charming as ever. The book begins,

School is starting.
I’ve grown tall.
Time to buy new
clothes for fall!

“Should we shop now?”
I say, “Yes!”
Mom says I can
choose a dress!

With the wide variety of dresses to select from, it’s not surprising this young hippo has a hard time finding the perfect one. She sees clothes with stripes, spots, plaids, ruffles, polka-dots, pointy collars, shiny sequins, and even a dress that looks like her grandma’s rug. Adjectives bounce across the pages and illustrations provide even more opportunities for kids to use describing words. It will be easy to start the year off with a nod to a couple of the “Common Core Standards” like one for teaching adjectives (L.K.5 if you’re interested), or teaching rhyming words (RF.K.2. if you want to know.)

This book will open a flood of stories from my younger students. They always love to tell of their preparations for the school year. I know they won’t all be able to shop for “new” clothes, but that doesn’t lessen their excitement over their trips to second-hand stores or their cousin’s closet, full of beautiful, outgrown garments.

In nine days I’ll be meeting a new crop of kindergarten students and the “older” kids will soon be knocking at my door with new clothes and fresh school supplies. As in years past, I’m sure they will be brimming full of summer stories and new jokes like this one:

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?

Well, I don’t know yet, but I’ll keep you posted.


  1. I was laughing out loud reading this because I am all too familiar with the Knock-Knock joke telling abilities of 4 and 5 year olds! (Usually I get "Knock Knock" "Who's There" "Orange you glad I didn't say banana!?!") The book looks adorable! Wishing you a great first day Monday!

  2. Thank you for dropping by and thanks for the good wishes for Monday. I'm ready!

  3. My daughter (six) loves to make up knock knock jokes. It is her favorite car ride game. And YES, kindergartners are smart!

  4. They are smart, engaging, creative and SUCH fun to be around. Of course my older students are too :)

  5. Thanks for sharing this with us as part of this month's themed carnival, all about books for starting school - a great addition.

  6. What a great book! As a speech therapist and reading specialist- although currently not practicing!- I am so thrilled to have found your site. I will be back often.

  7. Thank you! And thanks for dropping by.