Tuesday, August 31, 2010


By David Shannon

(Blue Sky Press, 1999)

Thoughts of a new school year can make everyone nervous—students, parents, teachers, even principals. There are high hopes that things will be different, better. Yet sometimes hopes are dashed as soon as the rules are stated. Author and illustrator David Shannon explores this scenario in David Goes to School, his follow-up to No, David!

As a teacher and principal, I see David every day. There's one in every class, usually more. He's impulsive, excitable, a dreamer. Full of energy, he seems to be recognized more for his infractions than his contributions. David is the type of student who requires us to look at the classroom from a different vantage point. Shannon's David is looking for fun and, sadly, school can seem like anything but. He reminds us that students need regular physical activity, short body breaks that occur in addition to scheduled P.E. sessions. David's need to express himself must be channelled in a positive way so as not to squelch his eager mind.

In the author's note, Shannon nudges educators, saying, "[K]ids haven't changed much over the years, and neither have school rules, some of which date back even farther than the invention of sneakers." Ahem. That smarts a bit. It's a reminder that we need to think about why we do things in particular ways and what that means to learners who can be challenged, even labelled, by these rules. To be fair, Shannon does awknowledge that, while yes is a "wonderful word", there remains a place for no. He notes, "'[Y]es' doesn't stop kids from running in the halls."

Through Shannon's simple text and exuberant, endearing illustrations, he helps us see the earnest personality in David. It's a book worthy of review by all educators.

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