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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

All Are Welcome, written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House, 2018. $21.00 ages 3 and up

"Gather now,
let's all take part.
We'll play music,
we'll make art.

We'll share stories
from the heart.

All are welcome here."

It is always time to celebrate diversity and to embrace the message of this book. In a school classroom, filled with a varied group of children from many cultures and with different abilities and interests, it is made clear that every single child is welcome.

The endpapers are an invitation for observation and discussion. Here, a child may see a family similar to their own - a mom and dad walking with two little girls, a biracial couple pushing their child in a wheelchair, a pregnant mom walking with her son who's waving to the child behind them, a caregiver walking with a math whiz, a Muslim family, a little boy with his two dads, a little girl arriving in a cab driven by her father - what a joyful scene!

Every glimpse into this classroom is filled with the joy of being together, of sharing experiences, of learning about the world, of enjoying music, reading, art, and of listening to stories. I found myself noting the shy children, the apprehensive parents, and I was always checking to learn more about each of the children by watching them throughout their day. What fun is that!

"We're part of a community.
Our strength is our diversity.
A shelter from adversity.

All are welcome here."

These kids know we are all the same on the inside, and how we look on the outside or how we dress does not matter. It is a worthy way to look at this world we live in. Their personalities shine through, in artwork created with acrylic, ink, crayon, collage and Photoshop, as we follow them from page to page right up to the final gatefold which shows the school community gathering for a potluck dinner, while also celebrating the learning that is happening in the classroom.

Don't miss the inside poster on the book's cover!

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