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For the first time in many years, I will not be taking a first-day-of-school picture to send to my mom, or picking out my first day outfit. It is a strange feeling, but with everything going on right now, I’m definitely a little more than relieved.

But I know that many students will be returning to classrooms in just a few weeks, and some little ones for the first time. The pandemic is confusing enough, but throwing an entirely new experience like school at them? I can’t help but feel bad.

So now, more than ever, those kiddos will need a boost. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this, like talking it through or practicing it at home. But reading about our favorite characters going to school may make it seem less scary. There are so many books about going to school, and I’ve seen how it can really help get them excited, or at least in the mindset.

As a kid, I loved learning, and school was fun, but the first day was always the hardest. I never wanted to leave my mom. So I know that the start of school is especially difficult for those kiddos who love to be around mom or dad or a guardian.

I remember my mom reading me the same book every year the day before school started, and honestly, it helped a lot. It really did get me excited, and this particular book gave me something tangible to hold onto throughout the day. That book? The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.

Anyone who has read this heartwarming book will remember it fondly. Chester Raccoon is about to start his first night of school, but he doesn’t want to leave his mother. So she passes on the family secret of the kissing hand, planting a kiss on his palm and telling him to hold onto it all day, knowing her love went with him. If that’s not the sweetest thing you’ve ever read, I don’t know what is.

So that morning, my mom would kiss my hand. Throughout the day, if I got nervous or scared or homesick, I would just hold on tight to my hand and know her love was with me. It might not seem like much, but it made a big difference.

It doesn’t mean much to little kids that school ends at three o’clock, or even that they’ll be home again after school is done. But having something tangible, something they can feel and look at and think about will hopefully make the day a little easier. Even if that doesn’t help, it’s a cute story with beautiful illustrations.

So I put forth The Kissing Hand as the best back-to-school book. And don’t worry! The kissing hand stays on even after washing your hands, an important part of our pandemic times. You can request a copy of the book by following this link. Happy reading, and whether you’re at school or at home, have a great school year!

~~Lindsey, Library Aide