Mona Voelkel

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: This is a School


Book Title: This is a School

Author: John Schu

Illustrations: Veronica Miller Jamison

Publisher & Year: Candlewick Press, 2022

Intended Age: 4-8

Topic/Themes: School, Friendship, New Experiences

Opening Lines: “This is a kid. This is a kid in a class.”

Synopsis: This is a School is a big-hearted and brightly illustrated love letter to a welcoming and inclusive school community. Students and teachers will recognize the the rhythm of a typical school day from morning welcome to the joy of dismissal, with vignettes, captured through snappy and heartfelt sentences, in between.

What I love about this book: I love that this book celebrates what every school should be: a place of learning, joy, and acceptance. I especially like the illustrations of students and teachers because I felt that anyone reading this book might find someone who looked like them on its pages. This would make an excellent gift, inscribed with a personalized note, for a principal, teacher, or new retiree.


Writing: Use this book as a mentor text, write your own school or community version of this book. Some sample titles: This is (Name of School) School; This is Our Classroom; This is Our Family.

Start by brainstorming what you see, feel, and do in your school and community. Then, craft those ideas into alternating short and long sentences before drafting, revising, and publishing with illustrations or photographs. 

Reading: Before reading, have students look at the title and cover illustration and predict what the story will be about. Stop at various points to discuss the text. For example, what would be an example of questions that are “big and small, silly and scary, loud and quiet.”? Why might it be important that everyone feels free to ask questions? 

After reading, have everyone write down one word or phrase that they liked from the book and “whip” around the room, with each student sharing their word or phrase in a poetic impression of the book.

Book Celebration: Invite families to listen to the book and the student-created narratives.

Art: Using the illustrations as a mentor text, have students illustrate a scene from their school day or take a photograph.

This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Thanks for stopping by! Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments.

Reflections on this Book:

It is such a gift to be part of a caring community and this book recognizes and celebrates that gift. As I was thinking about how this book could be used to write odes to the nourishing communities in our lives, I thought of my critique group:


Critique Group

                             (Inspired by This is a School by John Schu)

We share our stories.

We receive:

“I noticed….”

“I felt…”

“I love…”

“I wonder…”

“I thank you…”

We listen.

We cheer.

We ponder.

We write.

We rewrite.

We try.

We fail.

We celebrate.

Then, send our stories on their way.

Face blank pages once again.

Our next meeting date wills new stories into being.

We share our stories.


I hope you read this book and that it inspires you to celebrate the supportive communities in your life!

Image: Envato Elements


7 Responses

  1. What a beautiful book. It sounds very simple, yet a beautiful share. Will check it out as I have some grandkids starting school this fall! And I appreciated your thoughtful activities. Thanks for sharing today!

  2. Ooh, a new book! This one sounds like it would pair well with All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, ilustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. Love your expansion of it to your critique groupa nd your poem. Can’t wait to find this at my library. Thanks!

    1. Maria, I just looked up your recommendation of All are Welcome and I am very taken by what I saw of this book, especially by the inviting rhyme!! Thank you! I will be tracking this book down!!!

  3. Sounds like a good book to read aloud, and help kids remember the community they are part of every day.

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