One World Week Picture Book Suggestions, Bev Humphrey

This week (18th – 25th October) is One World Week with United Nations day on the 24th. To quote the website ‘Events are organised by volunteers with the common purpose:

To share understanding about some of the global issues that affect us all and to recognise we can all make a difference’

This year’s theme is ‘It’s Our World – Let’s make it better’ and this seems to be something that we as school librarians can certainly get behind, with our focus on inclusivity, celebrating diverse cultures and sexualities and treating all with kindness and understanding. Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to read some marvellous picture books that would make very good reads this (or any) week so I thought I’d share them here(they are not all newly published, but new to me): 

Rain Before Rainbows, Smitri Halls & David Litchfield. This exquisite book was published as an ebook by Walker during lockdown as a free download and has now been published in hard copy. It is an incredibly positive and hopeful book whilst being realistic and acknowledging fears , it talks about how although times may be dark at the moment, things will improve and there are always moments of value to come. The pictures are just achingly beautiful and the sensitive words brought tears to my eyes on the first reading (and on several subsequent readings if I’m honest!). I have already purchased several copies for Christmas presents and a copy for my gorgeous baby grand daughter , naturally nanny will read it to her! 

Mrs Bibi’s Elephant, Reza Dalvand. Mrs Bibi has an unusual pet, a large elephant , and the two of them play with children , read bedtime stories every night and live happily together. Sadly not everyone approves of the elephant however and when Mrs Bibi is told that she has to get rid of her beloved companion she has a hard decision to make. This story will break your heart and then partially mend it when the loss of the elephant makes the towns people change their heartless ways. Sensitively written, this is a wonderful story about friendship and tolerance with soft toned illustrations and a very clear message. 

Look Up!, Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola. The young female protagonist in this story wants to be an astronaut when she grows up and takes a keen interest in the world around and above her. Her older brother Jamal however, rarely looks up from his phone screen and doesn’t really engage with anyone, unless its digitally. Rocket’s enthusiasm for a meteor shower brings people together however and sharing the experience with her brother finally encourages him to look up from his glowing screen to enjoy the natural world.I love the illustrations , especially Rocket’s pet cat who wears a spacesuit just like his owner! I must admit that I empathised a little too uncomfortably with Jamal and must make an effort myself to look up more.

Kind , foreword Axel Sheffler, pictures by 38 illustrators. Kind has been out since 2019 but I only got around to purchasing it recently. £1 from the sale of each copy goes to the Three Peas charity which gives practical help to those who have had to flee their homes and are dependent on the kindness of others in their new country. With such a feast of brilliant illustrators naturally the pictures are fabulous and the words give suggestions to children of how they can practice kindness in their everyday lives. As the book says ‘Everyone is valuable, and we all have gifts to share’ and if we all work together we can make a better world. 

Last, Nicola Davies. Extremely poignant version of a true story about a rhino called Sudan who was the last male of his kind in the wild. The story ends hopefully although sadly this was not the case in real life and the words printed in the illustrations are taken for the most part from well know environmental speeches. An on point (as always with Nicola Davies) cautionary conservation tale that reminds us that we all have a responsibility towards nature and that we need to save species before they all die out. 

Have you read any books lately that would fit in with the One World Week theme? If so please do share them with us on Twitter. Instagram or Facebook.

Sending kindness, understanding and a big hug to any reader that needs one, in the words of Hill Street Blues “Let’s be careful out there’. 

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