Can you feel the butterflies in your stomach? Are they excited butterflies or nervous butterflies – or maybe they are both? A new school year brings many unknowns with it which can result in a mixture of emotions for children.
One way to ease some of those jitters would be to welcome your students into your classroom community by reading the book All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman. Students are sure to see themselves reflected in the bright, cheery pages of All Are Welcome. The opening images of the nervous, uncertain children saying good-bye to their parents will offer them some reassurance that they are not the only ones feeling a bit scared about going to school. As students begin to meet the unique characters in the story, they will be delighted to see themselves portrayed on the pages. All Are Welcome will not only act as a mirror for children, in which they can see their own stories being told, but it will also provide a window from which students are invited to view the experiences of others. A visual celebration of diversity and individuality greets the reader at every turn of the page. The vibrant images are accompanied by the mantra, “All are welcome here”, which is echoed throughout the text. Inviting illustrations, paired with rhyming, simplistic (yet impactful) text will ensure that students receive the message that they belong to a special classroom community that recognizes and values diversity; the message being that, “You are welcome here.”
You will want to make space in your classroom library for All Are Welcome. It is a story that belongs to your students.
Sarah Carr is a K/1 teacher at Geary Elementary Community School who enjoys buying and reading books. One of her favorite pass-times is playing with her active puppy, Murphy.