Kindergarten Day USA and China

Kindergarten Day USA and China

  • 1695

By: Trish Marx / Photographs by: Ellen B. Senisi

Experience a day in kindergarten in the USA and China.

Readers spend a school day with two kindergarten classes in this flip-me-over book. First visit a class from Schenectady, New York, and then meet a class from Beijing, China, as children learn and play with their teachers and classmates. Clocks throughout the book show the time in the USA and in China, noting that when it's daytime on one side of the world, it's nighttime on the other.

Includes notes about the Chinese language, pinyin (a system for pronouncing Chinese words), and telling time.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Photographer Bios:

Trish Marx, author

Trish Marx has written many nonfiction books, including Everglades Forever: Restoring America's Great Wetland (Lee & Low Books) and Jeanette Rankin: First Lady of Congress (Margaret K. McElderry). Trish lives in New York City.

Read more about Trish.

Ellen B. Senisi, photographer

Ellen B. Senisi is the author and photographer of children's photo-essay books including Hurray for Pre-K! (HarperCollins) and All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! (Woodbine House). She lives in Schenectady, New York.

Read more about Ellen.

Awards & Honors:

  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

This dos-a-dos photo-essay plays off the old saw, "If you dig a hole deep enough, you'll reach China," to present a representative day in kindergarten classrooms in Schenectady, N.Y., and Beijing. A clock icon on each page shows the time, 12 hours apart, in each place. The American kindergarteners sing and read, draw, eat lunch, celebrate a classmate's birthday, enjoy recess and negotiate friendships. Turn the book over and start from the back to see the Chinese children doing the same, even down to the birthday celebration. The Chinese section introduces pinyin (Chinese written in the Roman alphabet) and Chinese characters (with notes that are occasionally too complex for the presumed kindergarten-age audience). A problem inherent in emphasizing the praiseworthy "we're all really alike" message is that cultural differences are elided (though the mealtime differences are strikingly evident). Still, a nifty introduction.


On every page of this brightly-illustrated book, clear, colorful photos show kindergarten children at work and at play. Open the book one way and follow the day of an American school class in Schenectady, New York. Flip the book over and watch the same progression in a classroom in Beijing, China. Either way, a typical double-page spread includes one large photo and a smaller one, several lines of text commenting on the action, and a clock face showing the time of day. The parallel structure of the children's activities and the acknowledgement of common concerns underscore the experiences that the children share, while the differences, such as language and food, become apparent as well. Nicely designed for classroom sharing, this Global Fund for Children book offers opportunities for discussion that can broaden kids' awareness of the world beyond the boundaries of school, community, and country.


Here's some flip-flop reading fun in honor of my little nephew's birthday today - which makes him old enough to start preK next month . [The shock, the shock! Time is whooshing by too quickly for sure!]

"There is an old saying in the United States of America, 'If you dig a hole deep enough, you'll reach China,'" begins this colorful story-in-photographs about two kindergarten classes, on two sides of the world, in exact opposite time zones (separated by 12 hours). The "Flip-Me-Over" presentation is perfect for this look at how kids in two very different countries go to school every day.

At Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady, New York, the children are welcomed with big hugs. They eat, they draw, are told to eat their carrots during lunch, but get to celebrate a birthday with frosty cupcakes. They can use their "loud voice" at recess, but must remember to use their "soft voice indoors." Problems sometime cause a few tears, but teachers are always around to make things better. And they learn to make friends while also learning "how to BE a friend."

Flip the book over, and as the American children go to bed, the kids in China are arriving at The Little Oak Children's House. The lao shi, or teacher, is also ready with hugs as the children arrive. The kids practice reading Chinese, while the lao shi also reads to them in English. They also make pictures, have lunch (with chopsticks), and eat cake in celebration of someone's sheng ri, or birthday. Sometimes sharing during playtime on the playground doesn't always happen, but the lao shi is there to help. Inside, sharing with peng you, or friends, makes for special times.

Using a hand-colored clock in the right corner of each spread page, author Trish Marx cleverly marks the passing of the school day, on both sides of the world. Photographer Ellen Sinisi deftly catches the children in moments of constant motion, bringing to life their bustling activities, their celebrations, their occasional conflicts, and their many beaming smiles. Either way you flip the book, the kids everywhere are pretty much the same . laughing and crying, and everything in between.

School Library Journal

Half of this book narrates a day at a kindergarten in Schenectady, NY; when flipped, it details a day with Chinese children in Beijing. Although there are some differences between the two classes, the book focuses on illustrating their similarities. Both groups learn reading in their respective languages, draw pictures, eat lunch, celebrate a classmate's birthday, play outside, witness a disagreement mediated by a teacher, and enjoy friends. The minor differences mostly involve language and food, although American kids will be happy to see that the Chinese kindergarteners also eat birthday cake, albeit with chopsticks. At the end of each half, the class wonders what kids are like on the other side of the world. The Chinese section includes one Chinese word per page. Additionally, a text box on the first page explains pinyin transliteration. Large, bright photographs and a limited number of words per page make this a good choice for storytime. The focus on similarities between the kids doesn’t teach much about Chinese culture, but it does give a nice lesson on the universality of the kindergarten experience.

School Library Journal - Curriculum Connections

Filled with charismatic photos of students and staff, Kindergarten Day USA and China (Charlesbridge, 2010; K-Gr1), a "Flip-Me-Over" photo-essay by Trish Marx and Ellen B. Senisi, draws parallels between classrooms in Schenectady, NY and Beijing. Told from the children's point of view, the simple narration describes the highlights of a typical day. Clocks on each spread point out the 12-hour time difference between the two countries, showing that when American children are eating lunch, their counterparts are most likely sound asleep. The Beijing section introduces one Chinese word per page, and a note explains how Chinese can be written in pinyin ("using the English alphabet to help people sound out the characters"). This inviting book illustrates the universality of the kindergarten experience.

Yellow Brick Road

This book has a lot to offer for older children as well, and should not be limited to the suggested age range. The flip-me-over book takes readers to visit a class in Schenectady, NY and then a class in Beijing, China. The learning and play activities are a rich source for observation and discussion of differences and likenesses. Marx and Senisi carefully included details that assist analysis, such as clocks so that readers become aware of the time in the USA and China, and that when it is daylight in one place it is dark in the other. The book includes notes about the Chinese language, pinyin (a system for pronouncing Chinese words) and telling time.

The Boston Globe

Kindergarten Day USA and China’ shows a typical kindergarten day in the two countries. It gives insight into both lands, forward and back — literally, since the book switches halfway through and may be turned upside down, a gentle play on the fact that “the People’s Republic of China is about halfway around the world from the United States of America.”

The book begins in Schenectady, N.Y., at 9 a.m. (with a clock on each page reminding us it’s 12 hours later in China). Teachers and friends greet each other, and the school day moves forward with songs, reading, art, a trip outside, lunchtime, a birthday party, recess, and learning to tell time. At 3 p.m., school ends and it’s time to flip the book to China.

In Beijing, the lao shi, or teacher, greets her children with big hugs. They read books in Chinese and English, and the rest of the day is much the same as in New York, complete with birthday party, art, and recess. Ellen Senisi’s many bright colored photos, both large and small, bring the two worlds vividly to life, showing subtle differences and remarkable similarities. Books like this build important bridges; part of the proceeds go to the Global Fund for Children.

Lest we take going to school for granted, one book reminds us that the right to learn can require a valiant struggle.


Two kindergarten classrooms filled with young children--seemingly worlds apart yet full of similarities--are the focus of this nicely designed Global Fund for Children book. Expressive photographs capture the Chinese and American children's range of emotions as they go through a school day.

NC Teacher Stuff

Kindergarten Day USA and China is an excellent resource if you want to teach young readers the skill of contrasting two or more things. Two kindergarten classes in Beijing and Schenectady, New York share their day, hour-by-hour, to show the similarities and differences in how two cultures address this important first year. My favorite part of the book is the section on celebrating birthdays. Both classes sing Happy Birthday and eat a dessert, but the kindergarten class in Beijing adds an interesting twist. On their birthday, a child is asked by the lao shi (teacher), "Tell us what you will learn to do, now that you are one year older." All of the children in the class begin to think about what they want to do, including reading longer words, riding bicycles, or learning how to tie their shoes. I think this is a great tradition. One of the most important themes that arises from reading this book is how much these two cultures have in common. On the great scale, this is sometimes forgotten in the heat of geopolitical battle. I would also use this book to teach young readers how to use graphic organizers. You can teach about sequence charts, Venn diagrams, etc. There are a lot of possibilities with this interesting book.

Looking Glass Reviews

Thousands of miles separate China and the United States and there is a twelve-hour time difference between the two countries. When America children are going to school, Chinese students are fast asleep. Though these two countries are so different, there are many things that Chinese and American schoolchildren have in common.

Let us begin by visiting the classroom of a kindergarten class in Schenectady, New York. It is nine o’clock and the children are being greeted by their teacher. At ten o’clock the boys and girls practice their reading and then they go outside to draw pictures. They get their lunch in the lunchroom at noon and then they have a treat. One of the children is celebrating his birthday and he passes out cupcakes to his classmates.

After our visit with the American children is complete, we can flip the book and get to know some Chinese kindergarten students. Just like the children in the USA, the children in China are greeted by their teacher when they arrive at school. They too practice learning to read and have art class. At lunchtime they use chopsticks to eat instead of a fork and knife, and their food is very different from what the American children get in their lunchroom. Here too, in Beijing, a boy is celebrating his birthday and he shares a cake with his friends.

Full of colorful photographs, and with information about language and customs in two different countries, this book shows to great effect that kindergarten children in two countries that are very different are actually a lot alike. Young readers will be surprised to see that a child who lives on the opposite side of the world has school experiences that are very familiar. Children are sure to enjoy learning the Chinese words that are incorporated into the narrative.

Kutztown Fall Book Review

This book tells the story of an average day in a Kindergarten class in New York. each page has a clock showing a different time of the day, starting at 9:00 am and going until 3:00 pm. Accompanying each cloack is a short paragraph and photograph describing what the Kindergarten students are goin at that time of day. When you flip the book over there is a similar story about Kindergarten students in Beijing, China. This book is a good teachign tool to use for comparing the cultures of China and the United States with young children. It also conects multiple curriculum subjects into one lesson. the clocks on each page teach time and mathematics, the short easy to read paragraphs help teach reading and the cultural comparisons, Chinese characters, and Mandarin words teach social studies.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-219-3

ISBN: 978-1-58089-220-9

Ages: 4-6
Page count: 48
8 x 9

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