With the fall semester right around the corner, parents and their kids are busy preparing for the first day of school. First day of school jitters have long been a theme of children’s books. After all, most children experience some form of apprehension when shifting from a life at home to a life at school. However, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn provides a fresh context and narrative to show that the first day of school is scary for everyone—even parents.

A Story About Fear & Love

In the book, Chester and Mrs. Raccoon discuss Chester’s fears of the upcoming first day of school. Mrs. Raccoon knows that Chester will enjoy school once he starts, but this is small consolation the scared child. To reassure Chester that he will not have to face his first day alone, she shares a secret: The Kissing Hand.

Mrs. Raccoon kisses Chester’s hand and tells him that when he feels scared, all he has to do is put the hand to his cheek and feel the warmth of her love. This love will give him the strength to face his fears. Right before the first day of school starts, Chester takes Mrs. Raccoon’s hand and kisses it so she has a Kissing Hand as well. This way, both Chester and Mrs. Raccoon are prepared for this big change in their day to day lives.

The First Day of School & Other Obstacles

Even children who are accustomed to non-parental child care can experience anxiety at going to a new school. New surroundings, new people, and new schedules can be stressful, but what makes the first day of school especially intimidating is facing it alone. Not only do books about these obstacles show readers that they are not alone in feeling something, but The Kissing Hand in particular shows us that the memory of someone can help us from feeling alone.

Parents Need a Little Courage, Too

In addition, The Kissing Hand demonstrates to children that even adults can be afraid. While some children may not grasp this aspect of the story right away, adults who read it to their children will appreciate the nod when Mrs. Raccoon puts her kissing hand to her cheek as her son goes off to school.

Recommended Audience

This book is a great read for any child starting preschool or kindergarten. Due to the parent-child relationship between Chester and Mrs. Raccoon, the ideal reader is someone who still enjoys being read to by an adult. In addition, children whose siblings are leaving home for the first day of school may also want to take part in The Kissing Hand.

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