This book couldn't have been published at a better time! I wish that sending a few free copies to the White House and Congress would make a difference in their outlook on what our great country really is based upon (the great melting pot) and values at its core (human rights).
This amazing book shows what this country has the potential to be. A country based on acceptance and unity, instead of walls and derision.
I had the privilege to hear Suzanne Kaufman, the illustrator, talk about her role in creating All Are Welcome during a local SCBWI event. If you missed it, be sure to check out Suzanne's interview Monday, where she discussed writing, illustrating, and offered some special inside information on the illustrations of All Are Welcome (here).
All Are Welcome
Author: Alexandra Penfold
Illustrator: Suzanne Kaufman
Publisher: Penguin Random House (2018)
Diversity, inclusivity, school, and community
Synopsis (from the publisher):
A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.
No matter how you start your day.
What you wear when you play.
Or if you come from far away.
All are welcome here.
Why I Like this book:
What began as a poster for her child's school evolved into a beautiful book celebrating all of America and its diversity. The back of the dust cover is a poster featuring the cast of children.
To accompany Alexandra Penfold's thought-provoking text and comforting refrain "All are welcome here," Suzanne Kaufman drew upon her friends, community, and the people she admired to create a picture book featuring kids from diverse racial (including biracial), physical abilities (wheelchair, blind, and glasses), gender, religion, and family dynamics.
The text and illustrations show the differences but focus on the similarities. The children all arrive at school, enjoy music, art and story time. They all eat lunch, enjoy recess and showing off their talents. Then, they all go home and sleep (dreaming of their friends). It's fun to watch as two special friendships evolve. One of my favorite images is the one of them all joining hands around a map of the world.
Suzanne used every inch of this picture book to show the friendships developing between the children and between their parents and the inconsequentiality of their differences. Be sure to check out the arrival and departure scenes on the end pages.
The book culminates in an inspiring double gatefold of the school's potluck and the statement - "You have a place here. You have a space here. You are welcome here." This is just a teaser of the amazing potluck spread. You'll have to get the book to see it all!
Text © Alexandra Penfold, 2018. Image © Suzanne Kaufman, 2018.
Suzanne outdid herself in assembling a community which provides a mirror to the great wealth of diversity that exists in our country, as well as a window into what America has the potential be like. Offering many children, a chance to see themselves in a picture book. I hope you enjoy it as well and help get it into every library and school in the country.
- how can you make a new kid to your school or neighborhood feel welcome?
- do you know anyone who seems "left-out"? Can you think of a way to make them feel welcome?
- does your school or neighborhood park have a friendship or bubby bench (here)?
- ideas to make classrooms more inclusive (https://www.brighthubeducation.com/special-ed-inclusion-strategies/68101-inclusion-in-the-preschool-classroom-tips-and-strategies-for-preschool-teachers/);
This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.