Getting kids—and parents—ready to start kindergarten

Children’s book by a St. Louis teacher looks at a child excited about beginning school and his more apprehensive mom

ELLEN FUTTERMAN, Editor-in-Chief

As a grandmother of a “rising” kindergartener who begins school in late August, I was more than interested when I heard about Jessica Schneider’s book, “Am I Ready Now?” In clever rhymes, it tells the story of 5-year-old Louie, who is super excited about starting kindergarten. His protective mother, however, not so much.

Schneider published the book in 2014 and got married in 2016 to Mitch Schwartzman. Today, Mrs. Schwartzman is a kindergarten teacher in the Parkway School District. She graduated from Mizzou in 2008 with a degree in elementary education and a dream to write a children’s book within 10 years of finishing college.

“My grandpa who was alive at the time would ask me every time I saw him, ‘How’s it going? Is it done?’ ” recalled Schwartzman, of Chesterfield, who is the mother of two young children, ages 3 and 18 months. “He basically said that he would support me and help me to write my book.”

After teaching fourth grade, Schwartzman, who belongs to United Hebrew Congregation, was moved to kindergarten, where she began to encounter some youngsters who didn’t know certain skills such as opening a juice box or tying their shoes.

In the book, which is beautifully illustrated by RJ Shay, Louie tells his mom he’s all ready for kindergarten – he knows how to tie his shoes and all the letters in the alphabet. Every other page he asks his mom: “Am I Ready Now?” and his mom tells him no. At the end, mom realizes that she’s the one not ready to let her baby grow-up while Louie, on the other hand, is raring to go.

When I asked Schwartzman what her best advice is for parents sending their children off to kindergarten, she replied:

“Kids look at their moms and dads for how to feel, so as long as the moms and dads are excited and positive, that helps their kids – their babies – transition easier for sure,” she said, adding that she loves being a kindergarten teacher.

“I thought I loved fourth grade, and then I got moved to kindergarten, and I absolutely love it. I don’t think I’d ever go back.”

Those interested in purchasing the book can do so at It costs $16 for local pickup; $19 to ship.