Embracing friendship and community

The following picture books provide models for warmth, friendship, community-building, and inclusivity in ways that very young children can understand and embrace.

David Soman's inviting How to Two is a counting book that could also serve as a set of inclusivity instructions. A lone boy plays on a slide (“how to one”); when he joins a girl on a seesaw, we learn “how to two.” One by one, children are welcomed into the fold until there are ten engaged in a jubilant game of tag. Bright watercolor and colored pencil illustrations on simple backgrounds keep the focus on the children’s joyous dynamics. (Dial, 2–5 years)

Two “migrantes,” a mother and her infant son, arrive on “the other side” in Yuyi Morales's wise and resplendent Dreamers. They meet cultural challenges (customs, language) that are resolved at the San Francisco Public Library, with its “unimaginable” wealth of books that offer paths to literacy, community, even a career. Occasional Spanish words enrich the succinct, gently poetic text, which is illustrated in rich and vibrant pen-and-ink, acrylic, and collage art. (Holiday/Porter, 4–7 years)

In Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community by Susan Verde, a little boy sees a neglected wall facing his house and decides to take action, which sparks a community effort to turn the wall into a public mural. John Parra’s acrylic illustrations display warmth; a range of skin tones is represented; children’s clothing is shown in deep reds, greens, and oranges; and the wall itself evokes the texture of bricks that have been painted over with a shade of cornflower-blue. (Wiseman/Simon, 4–7 years)

Sadie, protagonist of Sadie and the Silver Shoes by Jane Godwin, loves her sparkly silver shoes so much that she keeps wearing one after losing its mate. Then Sadie meets Ellie, who has a silver shoe just like Sadie’s — the very one, in fact, that Sadie lost. Ellie offers to return it, but Sadie has a better idea: they’ll share the shoes. Anna Walker's colorful watercolor and collage art alternates vignettes of home and school life with the lost shoe's journey. A satisfying celebration of individuality, friendship, and footwear fidelity. (Candlewick, 4–7 years)

From the March 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz and Katie Bircher

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. Katie Bircher is former editor of The Horn Book Guide.

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