Beyond the Book: The King of the Kindergarten

The King of the Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
This book was provided by Penguin Random House and Penguin Young Readers for review. Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

Book Summary

The King of the Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton celebrates the huge milestone of beginning kindergarten. With royal terms sprinkled throughout the text, we watch a young King as he prepares for the big day. Readers are introduced to all they can expect on their first day of school from classroom rules, storybook readings, learning the alphabet, making new friends, playing during recess, and more. Although the day is full of new adventures, he’ll be ready to do it all again tomorrow.


3 – 6 years

Pre-reading activity:

Discuss what you see on the cover of the book and ask your little one to predict what the story may be about. Have a discussion with your child about what it means to be a king or a queen. Younger children can discuss what they think kindergarten may be like and older children can think back to memories of their first day at school.

During the story:

Have your little one predict the text based on the illustrations. Provide definitions and connections for any of the target vocabulary words listed below that may be unfamiliar. Ask questions throughout the story to help your child comprehend what’s being read. Have your child repeat unfamiliar words.

Example Questions:

  • Why do you think his Mommy said he would be king of the kindergarten?
  • What’s the first thing you do in the morning after waking up?
  • What did the boy eat for breakfast?
  • Why did Daddy measure the boy?
  • How did the boy get to school?
  • Name one thing the teacher did with the class while they were sitting on the carpet.
  • How did the boy show his bravery?
  • What do you think the boy will tell his parents when he gets home?

Target Vocabulary:

a special symbol used to represent a family, group, or organization
a piece of clothing
the period of time when a king or queen rules; to be the best or most powerful person
to eat very quickly

a safe place that is protected from attacks

to be very happy or full of pleasure

a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by others; happiness you get when you or someone you know does something good
doing something even though it may be frightening

another way of saying goodbye


Have your little one re-read the book in their own words using the illustrations. Discuss a time where you or your child demonstrated bravery.


Paper Plate Crowns

Paper Plate Crowns

Materials: Paper plates, scissors, paint/crayons/colored pencils, embellishments

Using these directions for Paper Plate Crowns, we created our own crowns. First, the adult should cut the plates using the instructions provided. Next, the crowns should be colored using any supplies on hand. We used paint daubers, but crayons, markers, or colored pencils would work just as well. Then, we raided my craft box for embellishments. We used jewels, tape, and ribbon. Stickers, buttons, and pom-poms would also be great. Finally, we cut the edge of the paper plate off so the crown would fit better on Maya’s head.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House and Penguin Young Readers for providing us with a copy of The King of the Kindergarten. It is available now on Amazon and everywhere books can be purchased. We loved this book and highly recommend it as a gift for kids starting Kindergarten in the fall! While she often see books with Black girls as princesses and queens, it’s just as important for Maya to read books with Black boys shown as kings. Because of this book, she’s been walking around calling herself Royal Maya of Pre-K!

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