All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Published by Bloomsbury
Date: February 4 2019
It is books like this one why I keep sharing them with everyone, I felt overcome with emotion and it is not often that a picture book makes me want to cry. This inspiring book encompasses the very essence of equality and children feeling loved without having to apologise for who they are or where they come from.
All Are Welcome follows children during their day at school, sitting at their desks, playing in the school yard, music class, painting and listening to stories. They are part of a community, playing side by side, and learning from each other’s talents. What makes this classroom different from the world around them? They are all welcome, they have a space to learn, they have a place there.
All Are Welcome fosters the emotional development of children who may be struggling to be accepted in their school. It lets children know that there is a place for them regardless of what colour they are, what they believe, who their parents are, or what challenges they face. It allows them to have a moment freedom within themselves.
The book is like receiving a big HUG that envelopes you into a place where diversity is not only accepted but celebrated. A particularly moving aspect of the book is its explanation that there is a big world to discover and because of this we get to learn from each other’s culture.
The illustrations speak just as loud as the words, in fact they add so much more to the story and they perfectly meld together. The pages are filled with drawings of children in wheelchairs, head scarves, all different shades of skin, some wearing glasses, some with missing teeth, and another who is blind. The identity of each child and adult has been captured beautifully through these illustrations, and there is something quite unique about them. I would love to see some of these illustrations accessible as prints.
With so much bullying in the world – not just in our schools – it is refreshing to see a book that celebrates the importance of being you. What could be more giving than the words, You have a space here and You are Welcome here. So please know that whoever you, wherever you came from, you are welcome here.
Thank you Bloomsbury books for the opportunity to read and review this book.