One more week until school starts, and I have to admit, the butterflies are mounting (literally and figuratively speaking)! My first-timer continues to ask me valid questions about kindergarten...
"If I go to school everyday, does that mean weekends too? What time does school close and lock up the doors? Will I go to school if there's a snow storm?"
My son is clearly curious yet cautious about kindergarten, and we've made it a priority to keep the dialogue relevant during story time. One of our picks this week has truly captured my heart. Written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper, "The Kissing Hand", is a New York Times bestseller that has been around for decades. I'm excited to feature it in this week's story-telling Sunday blog, as it masterfully tackles the issue of separation anxiety.
Penn tells the story of Chester Raccoon who is starting school for the first time and is sad to leave his mom. Chester's mom reveals a family secret that is sure to put his little worries to rest - it's called the "kissing hand". As described in the book, a gentle kiss on the hand captures the love of his mom from near and far. Chester is reassured that if he's feeling sad at school he can simply press his "kissing hand" on his cheek to feel his mom's love from home.
"Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm. Chester felt his mother's kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart. Even his silky black mask tingled with a special warmth."
I love the instant gratification and tangible concept relayed in this story. I could see my son's immediate reaction as I described the magic power of a loving kiss. We practiced by kissing each others hands and wrapping our fingers around it to feel the love travel to our hearts. Like Chester, I could sense a bit of relief from my son knowing that he found a secret way to be comforted on his first day of school.
Overall, the story is engaging, relatable, and heart warming. I appreciate the whimsical illustrations set in a forest, and enjoy the emotive vocabulary throughout. Words like, "cozy", "toasty", and "thoughtful" jump out. Penn's story-telling allows for an honest conversation about feelings, separation anxiety, and coping tools.
As a bonus, the book comes with "kissing hand" stickers that kids can use on their hands when they start school. Just a wonderful idea for our little ones starting school for the first time!
I highly recommend the "The Kissing Hand" as a back-to-school pick for any little reader, especially those starting school for the first time. A big "kissing hand" high five from me!