My little one is starting kindergarten this week. Kindergarten! So what better book to tuck her in with than Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes? I always loved sharing this story the first week of school when I taught first grade, and it was the perfect choice last night as so much anticipation and mixed emotion swirled about – for both of us!
In this beautifully illustrated picture book, Wemberly, a young mouse that worries about everything, faces her biggest fear – the first day of school. In the end of this sweet and reassuring story, Wemberly becomes friends with another mouse in class and has an excellent first day!
Henkes tells a tale of coping with fears and cleverly uses characters to model positive and healthy ways to establish friendships. I just love how Wemberly and her friend Jewel greet each other in a way that makes them both feel comfortable and quickly discover things they have in common by sharing information about themselves. Very realistic and very relatable.
Since my little kindergartener is not tremendously forthcoming with her thoughts and feelings, this story helped anchor some of the conversations I was hoping to have with her on the eve of her first day of school.
Me: So how do you think Wemberly and Jewel were feeling at first?
Me: Yeah. How were you feeling at Open House this morning when we first walked in?
Annie: I felt shy too.
Me: I know…. A lot of people feel shy or nervous when something is new. You know who used to always feel nervous on the first day of school?
Me: Yep! I would worry about all the kids having a great day. I’d worry about planning enough fun things to do. But you know what – the first day always turned out great! Are you worried?
Annie: Yeah. No. I’m just feeling shy.
Me: Yeah. I know how you feel. Wemberly and Jewel started out shy, but then what happened?
Annie: They started to play.
Me: Kind of like you today at Open House with Peyton and James. You all found something you had in common. Remember what that was?
Annie: We were building.
Me: Right. That was fun, huh?
While Wemberly’s parents never engage their young mouse in a conversation about her feelings – repeating phrases like “Don’t worry” and “You worry too much” throughout the book – I certainly appreciated the opportunity this book afforded me to explore some of the emotions that come along with the start of something new. So thank you Kevin Henkes – Wemberly Worried remains one of my most favorite back-to-school books for the 6 and under crowd.
Other great children’s books to help with the first day jitters (Preschool-First Grade)