for choosing the book:
This book has been chosen not only because it was conceived
by Alan and Janet Ahlberg, possibly one of the most popular children's
writer/illustrator team in the U.K., but also because it was conceived
in school with the pupils help. It, therefore, reflects the world of school,
in England, as seen through the eyes of children.
Starting School follows a multicultural group of children
as they begin their education England. On the first day, they are seen
as they arrive - some on bikes, others in cars, and many on foot. They
meet a cheerful lollipop man who guides them across the road towards their
new school. where their teacher introduces them to the daily routine.
As time goes by, and the children become more secure in their surroundings,
the story goes more deeply into the minor conflicts that can occur during
the school day. It ends, however, on a high note with preparations for
the end-of-term Christmas play.
Activities for use in school:
1. Get the children to look carefully
at each page in the book to see which things are the same in your school
and which things are different. They can then choose ONE thing, describe
it, illustrate it and put it in a class booklet 'Our School', which could
be kept in the reading corner.
2. You might like to write a letter on behalf of a child in another European
country, asking to be told about schools in England. The children can
then respond, rather like the replies to the ladybird letters in chapter
one of Nigel Hall's book 'Writing with Reason'.
3. Get the children to make a brochure of their school that could be used
by parents, or children who are about to begin at the school. It could
also be sent to a partner school in another country.
4. Older children might like to reflect on what they can remember about
starting school. Have things changed very much? Do they have a particular
incident that sticks in their minds that they would like to re-tell. This
could be recorded on to tape and made into a radio documentary. In addition,
the children might like to interview parents/grandparents about their
memories of starting school. You could read part of chapter three in Laurie
Lee's 'Cider with Rosie' (Penguin, 1979) which recounts his first day
at school, as a stimulus:
I spent that first day
picking holes in paper, then went home in a smouldering temper.
'What's the matter, Loll?
Didn't you like it at school, then?'
'They never gave me the present!'
'Present? What present?'
'They said they'd give
me a present.'
'Well, now, I'm sure
'They did! They said: "You're
Laurie Lee, ain't you? Well, just you sit there for the present".
'I sat there all, day but I
never got it. I ain't going back there again!'
Early school memories.
NB . Further literature and language-based activities
can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières available from