Back to School with All Are Welcome

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

With the first day of school already in sight, I was looking for some new Back to School titles and stumbled across this book. It is everything a quintessential “Going to School” book should be and more. Like most titles for early elementary, All Are Welcome guides readers through a normal school day, preparing them for activities like circle time, read alouds, music, lunch, and recess. The rhyming text is lovely and creates a soothing rhythm to ease first day jitters. But what I really love about this book is found in the illustrations. Each page is a panoramic view of a classroom, library, or playground brimming with students and parents of every shape, size, race, and dress you can imagine. Suzanne Kaufman, the illustrator, uses these painstakingly detailed images to represent a myriad of ethnicities, orientations, and abilities. I was continually amazed at every page turn. I can only imagine how heartening it will be for a student in a wheelchair, wearing a hijab, or living with same sex parents to see themselves represented so joyfully in this book. I am also excited by the opportunities that each illustration gives for children to ask questions about the people they see that are not like themselves, fantastic questions that can begin some very important conversations. Beyond messages of reassurance, All Are Welcome is brimming with messages of inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance. I am confident that this title will make a great addition to any child’s library. I know I am very excited to add it to my own bookshelf.

– Kayla

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