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School's First Day of School

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It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially . . . the school.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published June 28, 2016

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About the author

Adam Rex

94 books730 followers
Adam Rex grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, the middle of three children. He was neither the smart one (older brother) or the cute one (younger sister), but he was the one who could draw. He took a lot of art classes as a kid, trying to learn to draw better, and started painting when he was 11. And later in life he was drawn down to Tucson in order to hone his skills, get a BFA from the University of Arizona, and meet his physicist wife Marie (who is both the smart and cute one).

Adam is nearsighted, bad at all sports, learning to play the theremin, and usually in need of a shave. He can carry a tune, if you don't mind the tune getting dropped and stepped on occasionally. He never remembers anyone's name until he's heard it at least three times. He likes animals, spacemen, Mexican food, Ethiopian food, monsters, puppets, comic books, 19th century art, skeletons, bugs, and robots.

Garlic and crosses are useless against Adam. Sunlight has been shown to be at least moderately effective. A silver bullet does the trick. Pretty much any bullet, really.

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5 stars
1,662 (43%)
4 stars
1,451 (37%)
3 stars
571 (14%)
2 stars
109 (2%)
1 star
32 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 647 reviews
Profile Image for sAmAnE.
580 reviews87 followers
May 14, 2021
شاید اگر بچه‌ها این کتاب رو که از زبان یک مدرسه نوشته شده بخوانند، نظرشون در مورد مدرسه رفتن و مدرسه عوض بشه.😉
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
August 23, 2017
Update: First day of school for kids in this house, 8/23/17!

Each year I and my family read and rate all the Goodreads picture book nominees. This one is nominated for 2016. I make a few comments and then add their separate ratings and a comment. There's 15 and this is the third being rated. My rating might be somewhat influenced by the family, naturally.

In this one, the school building is a character, and it's a new school, Frederick Douglas Elementary, that talks with the janitor, learning it as it goes, learning to see what its purpose is, to be there in the best way it can for kids. And the building also does fun stuff TO kids, which is funny. I think there's too many words for a picture book, but the images by rock star illustrator Robinson (last year's Newbery winner for Last Day at Market Street) are great. I thought they could have done even more fun things with the building doing stuff to kids for fun, but this is a really likable book! And reminds me of Chris Ware's Building Stories, where the building has consciousness. 4 stars.

Tara (my wife): 4 stars. Fun. I liked it when the building squirted the boy.
Harry (11): 4 stars. Same as mom.
Hank (10): 3 1/2 stars. Cool, awesome. I liked how the school learned, also.
Lyra (9): 3 1/2 stars. Read it twice already at school.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,029 reviews2,385 followers
August 23, 2017
Won't somebody please think of the children school?

How does he feel to be crammed full of noisy children and teachers all day? Will he get embarrassed if his fire alarm goes off? And, what about those kids who say they hate school? How do you think that makes him feel?

Find out the answers to all these questions in Adam Rex's delightfully clever book.
Christian Robinson provides the cheery illustrations.

Profile Image for Angie.
2,389 reviews50 followers
August 21, 2016
Fun read aloud for the first day of school. Would be awesome to have the janitor come read it ... but they are always super busy.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,449 reviews473 followers
May 28, 2021
This is part of my 365 Kids Books challenge. For a fuller explanation see my review for 101 Amazing Facts about Australia You can see all the books on their own shelf. The Reviewers seemed to run correctly last week, but didn't run this week at all, and the Readers list hasn't been fixed at all. I guess algorithm don't care. Looking at the beta pages, algorithm loves stars.

The heartwarming story of two good friends: School and Janitor and the first day of school. I like Robinson's work a lot. For some reason I especially liked the construction picture on the copyright and title pages, because there are women builders, which still isn't very common in picture books. I understand why this old school style of building isn't used these days, but I love them. They look friendlier to me than the newer types. Even more so when they have smiles.

And there, now I've finished the backlog of library books cluttering up the den. Onward to the ebooks I have standing by.

Library copy
Profile Image for Tatiana.
839 reviews60 followers
October 12, 2021
Last year, amidst a pandemic, a new elementary school opened in our district. It was built brick by brick in a big field. More than once during those first hectic days of hybrid teaching and social distancing and masks falling off noses I thought what it must look like from the outside. I never considered what the school itself was feeling.

For me, School's First Day of School hits different, as the kids say.

I love this gentle twist on starting a new school year. It celebrates the little things that make a building a place to learn. It would make a great read-aloud!
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews108 followers
August 8, 2016
Over the summer, a school was built. The school liked its name, Frederick Douglass Elementary. It liked the quiet summer days with just the janitor who warned the new school that soon it would be full of children. But the school wasn’t sure that it liked the idea of children! And when they did arrive, there were so many of them. They went everywhere. Some children didn’t like being at school, and one little freckled girl in particular caught the school’s attention. As the day went on though, the school started to see what he was built for and the children who didn’t want to be there also started to understand why they were there too.

What a clever clever premise for a book! It takes the school building itself and gives it the angst of the first day of school, the wonder about all of the different kinds of things that go on from the play structures to the classrooms and the cafeteria. Steadily with apparently no effort at all, children will be introduced to all of the parts of an elementary school. They will also find that their fears mirror that of the school and that all they need to do is give it the first day and see how that goes. Like the school, they might just be looking forward to the second one!

The illustrations by Robinson are merry and bright. They too add to the calming feeling of the book, creating a look that is friendly and soothing at the same time. The children are from all different backgrounds, creating a dynamic and diverse atmosphere. The school itself somehow exudes personality, even managing to look at little embarrassed about the fire alarm.

A marvelous book for first-day jitters, this picture book will be loved by everyone headed to their own school. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 13 books192 followers
July 28, 2016
So sweet and spot-on... I cannot think of a better book for beginning school. Wonderful.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,867 reviews5,031 followers
June 13, 2020
Cute. An unusual approach to reassuring kids nervous about the first day of school.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,174 reviews187 followers
February 17, 2020
The newly-constructed Frederick Douglas Elementary School looks forward to the start of the school year with trepidation in this engaging, warmhearted take on a classic childhood concern. Will he like being filled with children, even if they get everywhere and make messes? How will he react when some of the children don't like him? In the end, despite some initial tensions - an embarrassing accidental fire-alarm, a sad little girl who declares her dislike of school - he eventually decides that being a school is a very good thing indeed...

I enjoyed this newest offering from author Adam Rex, known for his many humorous picture-books, and illustrator Christian Robinson, awarded a Caldecott Honor just this year for Last Stop on Market Street . Children who fear the first day of school might find some comfort in the idea of an anthropomorphic school that has his own reservations, while others will undoubtedly just enjoy the humorous role-reversal in School's First Day of School, tickled at the idea of a school being afraid at all. The artwork is colorful and appealing, depicting a diverse range of children attending Frederick Douglas Elementary. Recommended to anyone looking for children's stories about the first day of school.
Profile Image for Gary Anderson.
Author 0 books88 followers
August 9, 2016
If you're looking for a first-day-of-school read-aloud, look no further. School's First Day of School is the story of the first day of a brand new school told from the personified point of view of the building known as Frederick Douglass Elementary. Everyone, including the building, is a little nervous about opening day, and that anxiety is expressed in different ways, some positive and some not so positive. As School's First Day of School engages the imagination and promotes empathy, many students will see themselves in this book. What if the first faculty team meeting of the year included a reading of this book?
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books231 followers
September 16, 2016
A hundred stars.

This is the kind of book I want to hug—it's so smart and layered and inventively well written. The inclusion of the Janitor character is brilliant and the way the school's experience mirrors that of a child attending a new school year is, as has been noted, perfect. But there's more than that too. This is a book that affirms school itself. That it's a place that matters, where we learn new things, where we feel nervous and sometimes bored or unhappy, where we laugh and come out of our shells, where we make observations and important relationships. Let's take care of our schools and the people in them the way Janitor takes such good care of this one.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
9,807 reviews417 followers
July 3, 2017
Delightful. Honest and authentic. A good lesson in empathy, presented obliquely so it doesn't seem didactic. Could also be used a model for a Creative Writing exercise.

I wish the funny joke was included, instead of just mentioned.

And I liked that the teacher said "Don't tell anyone, but I think it's the best." ( It's tough to encourage talent without showing favorites, but necessary because we need our most talented kids to continue to strive rather than settling for mediocrity.)

This book will probably be bought by, or given to, lots of teachers and school libraries, and the creators deserve every cent of the royalties they earn for it, imo.
Profile Image for Jennifer Worrell.
Author 14 books113 followers
April 22, 2021
I'm starting to think Rex is a genius. A story told from the POV of a school is creative enough on its own. But when the school tells the janitor, "I thought this was your house", I thought, that really *is* what a school would think. I was fully immersed in the world of an inanimate object, and loved every minute. I don't want to give this one back to the library, but I don't want the building to get a bad impression of me.
Profile Image for Barb.
109 reviews3 followers
July 30, 2016
Looking for a book to read on the first day of school? This may be a good choice! Told from the point of view of a brand new school, we see the fear and trepidation of a first experience at school? Is anyone going to like me? Am I going to like this experience? Readers will find it is ok to be nervous, but interesting things happen on the first day of school.

Adam Rex has told a great story and Christian Robinson illustrates it beautifully. You will probably spend more time looking and talking about the illustrations than it takes to read the text. (Illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street, Newbery Medalist).

I am recommending this book to my teacher friends for the first day of school. It will also be useful for older children when talking about point of view. Students will find a few chuckles in the happenings on the first day of school.
Profile Image for Kifflie.
1,447 reviews4 followers
September 14, 2016
Frederick Douglass Elementary is a brand new school, and he's just as nervous as the kids when he opens his doors for the first time. There's some adjustments to make (even buildings can make mistakes with their fire alarms on the first day), but eventually the school and the kids start getting used to each other. A wise and friendly janitor helps School understand things.

An original new take on the back-to-school story. I think both author and illustrator really capture all the emotions neatly.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,812 reviews12.8k followers
April 30, 2017
Ther first day in a new school is not only scary for children, but the structure as well. The story surrounds a school as 'he' goes through the process of learning how nerves can soon turn to glee, given the time. The school learns that he is able to provide support for the inhabitants and get through Day One with only a few glitches. Neo liked it and asked if his school (new this past September) felt the same way. I asked him to talk to it when next he was there (but perhaps whisper and only when others are not around) ;)
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,808 reviews227 followers
September 22, 2020
So much fun! Poor school, so confused, so unsure! This would be the perfect book to read to a nervous Kindergartner (or first grader ... or second grader ...).

The art is very basic, but perfectly complements the story.

Full disclosure: I read this to my high school senior, and she said it was just okay.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 647 reviews

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