My Top 5 Fictional Teachers in Children’s Literature

World Teachers Day has been celebrated internationally every October 5th since its 1993 initiation by Fedrico Mayor, as explained by Holdiay Insights. Like many, I’ve been lucky enough to have influential teachers throughout my school years who have encouraged my educational growth and my curiosity to learn. Along with teachers in the classroom, my childhood included the following 5 fictional teachers that deserve recognition for their dedication to their students.

Miss Clavel from Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline series

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As an ex Catholic schoolgirl, I’m familiar with the concept of having a nun for a teacher; that situation is why Miss Clavel’s teaching position in the Madeline series never phased me. However, Miss Clavel isn’t just a teacher to Madeline and her boarding school classmates. The caring nun acts as their alternate maternal figure, using her motherly instincts and problem-solving skills 24/7 to ensure these twelve little girls in two straight lines are protected, healthy, and happy as well as properly educated. Plus, her patience with the overly curious daredevil Madeline is extremely admirable.

Ms. Frizzle from Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus series

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Let’s face it: Ms. Frizzle is the queen of field trips. I was honestly jealous of the kids in Ms. Frizzle’s class who got to do all these unbelievable scientific adventures. All she had to do was turn a knob or press a button in the Magic School Bus, and the whole class was able to do feats like go back to the dinosaur age, travel to outer space, and shrink to microscopic size to witness the ocean’s food chain, changes in weather, and the human digestive system.

As zany as the field trips were, a number of the scientific facts I know today came from the lessons she taught in the children’s book series. To this day, I credit her for my interest in zoology and teaching me how to say “esophagus” correctly.

Ms. Honey from Roald Dahl’s Matilda

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Dahl’s heroine Matilda has a passion for books along with handy telekinesis skills. While Matilda’s parents and cruel principal fail to understand her love of literature, her teacher Ms. Honey encourages her interest in reading and intelligence. In fact, her admiration of Matilda’s personality charms her enough to adopt Matilda from her neglectful family at the end of the book.

I’m a strong believer of the importance of reading, a moral taught to me by my own parents. So I was easily made a fan of Ms. Honey since she loves and supports Matilda for the girl she is and offers kindness to others despite her own troubled past.

Mr. Ratburn from Marc Brown’s Arthur series

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Everybody has had that one teacher who’s infamous for their never-ending, challenging homework assignments. For Arthur Read and his friends, their teacher Mr. Ratburn filled that role. Throughout the book series and the PBS show, illustrations show the characters in literal terror over the different projects and test Mr. Ratburn conjures for them.

I was definitely on the kids’ side when I was younger; who wouldn’t be nervous taking a 100-word spelling test or doing an extensive research project? Being an adult now, I find myself on Team Ratburn. Mr. Ratburn’s assignments and subject matter push his students to strengthen their knowledge sometimes beyond the third grade level. Plus, they were able to do activities like participate in spelling bees and have field trips at archeologist digging sites known for its prehistoric fossils, history museums, and medieval fairs. In the end, the homework load was well compensated with cool experiences.

Mrs. Twinkle from Kevin Henkes’ Chrysanthemum

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When the young mouse Chrysanthemum becomes self-conscious of her lengthy first name, her pregnant music teacher Mrs. Twinkle is quick to offer help. Not only does she reassure Chrysanthemum that her unique name is something to be appreciated versus criticized, she reveals how her own first name, Delphinium, is uncommon and had caused her to be teased in the past. Even cooler, the beauty of Chrysanthemum’s name inspires her to give that very name her newborn child later in the story.

Being a person with an uncommon name that people often misspell and mispronounce, it was nice to hear Mrs. Twinkle’s praise of rare names and her support of what adds to a person’s individuality.

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