Books really are a fantastic resource, aren't they?! We love how they can be used in many ways to promote learning and development in a child-friendly way. With educators thinking ahead to the start of the new school year, it's a good time to focus on the power of books in helping children to navigate the transition as they start school.

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Starting school can be a challenging time for some. Even those children who have been used to attending an Early Years setting can find the transition overwhelming. A new environment, peers, adults, routines and expectations can take time to get used to. This can be especially difficult for children who have had the summer at home. Getting back into the routine of getting up, getting ready and leaving the house can be tricky for the adults as well as the children!

In the first few weeks, some children might need reassurance, time and attention to settle in and adjust. Picture books are a fantastic resource for helping children to feel safe and comfortable as they are a great way to encourage conversation about feelings which they might be experiencing. In this way, books are a reliable resource for promoting personal, social and emotional development. We can use books to help children to develop their emotional literacy, giving them the vocabulary to express how they feel. This might be excited, happy, worried, scared, sad, tired, or surprised.

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Books also bring a sense of familiarity. We can read some of the classics which children are likely to have heard in nursery or preschool, books they can join in with and can share ideas about. This can be reassuring as well as developing confidence. Some of our favourites are...

* The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson
* The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
* Dear Zoo - Rod Campbell
* The Colour Monster - Anna Llenas
* Ruby's Worry - Tom Percival
* Supertato - Paul Linnet & Sue Hendra
* The Tiger Who Came to Tea - Judith Kerr
* Billy and the Beast - Nadia Shireen
* Barbara Throws a Wobbler - Nadia Shireen
* Owl Babies - Martin Waddell
* You Choose - Pippa Goodhart

As well as books which are already familiar to children, it's always good practice to include a range of books that encourage conversation about families. Audit your books to ensure they are diverse and offer the children the opportunity to see themselves and their community represented. This helps us to inspire conversation around differences, promoting a message of kindness and acceptance. It's also valuable for children to feel like they belong and we can do this through the books we have available. We live in a rich, multicultural society which needs to be celebrated through our provision, from the book corner and displays to music and carpet time activities. When children see themselves reflected in the environment within the classroom, this builds confidence, self esteem and a sense of pride.

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Some of our favourite books which celebrate diversity include:

* My Hair - Hannah Lee
* Specs for Rex - Yasmeen Ismail
* The Perfect Fit - Naomi Jones
* The Proudest Blue - Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
* All Are Welcome - Alexandra Penfold
* In Every House on Every Street - Jess Hitchman
* Super Duper You - Sophy Henn
* We Are Family - Patricia Hegarty
* This is Our House - Michael Rosen
* Incredible You - Nathan Reed and Rhys Brisenden
* Our Skin - Jessica Ralli and Megan Madison
* Love Makes a Family - Sophie Beer
* Mixed - Arree Chung
* What Makes Me a Me- Ben Faulks

Alongside your book collection, it is beneficial to have resources which children can use in play and for the retelling of stories. Think about introducing puppets, peg dolls, story spoons, soft toys and small world set ups. Remember to ensure your resources are diverse and inclusion - we have an important role to play in facilitating conversations about acceptance.

Books really are such a simple but effective way to help children feel settled, reassured and safe when they start school. They faciltate conversations, bring a sense of familiarity, help with the understanding of difficult concepts and promote diversity. We'd love to hear which books are popular with your new starters.

Don't forget to tag us in your reading corners on our social media channels.

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