All are welcome by Alexandra Penfold

cover image

Ill. by Suzanne Kaufman. Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN 9781526604071
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Diversity. Schools. Families. Community. Told in four line stanzas where the first three lines rhyme, the verse rolls easily off the tongue and the repeated last line ensure children will catch on quickly and repeat the last line together with the reader. That last line, 'All are welcome', sets the tone for the book as it shows in both text and illustrations the variety of children, families and adults that are involved in our schools. The author based this story on her daughter's school in Seattle, USA, where diversity and community are celebrated, and she designed a poster to celebrate just that, taking it further with this book.
Each page brims with inclusiveness and being involved, no matter where you come from, or what you eat, how you dress or pray. The classroom is shown with a large number of flags across the blackboard and a world map to indicate the origins of many of the students, but it matters not: they all play and eat together, go home at night with their families, sleep in a bed then return to school the next day. The diversity of families too is included, the illustrations making it clear that everyone is the same, they are all in a family caring for their kids.
The illustrations reinforce the similarities of us all: the classroom routines, the playtime, going home after school, eating dinner then getting ready for bed. The illustrations serve to link all children together, and students will love spying out the similarities and smattering of differences between their schools and those in the USA, and have a go at saying all the versions of 'welcome' in other languages on the last double page in the book.
Fran Knight