Suzie, a highly experienced teacher and creative educational consultant has always been passionately committed to allowing al children and young people the opportunities to develop a life-long love of reading and to have access to high quality books. Suzie has worked, and led, in a range of formal and informal education settings. She has successfully collaborated with local and national educational and cultural organisations to empower learning through drama, stories and the arts and to train teachers in bringing creativity to their approach to learning. Suzie has reviewed books for UK and international organisations and publishers and advised school leaders on developing a creative, whole-school approach to putting reading at the heart of the curriculum.
As educationalists we are always looking for new and creative ways to encourage and engender empathy amongst young children and this has never been more important than it is in the current climate. It is vital that we help all children see themselves in stories, that we provide opportunities for them to tell their own story and to listen to the stories of others. We need to give children a safe space in which to share their experiences and stories and to help them see that although we may come from different places and have very different life experiences, we are all human beings; we all need to feel safe and accepted. I believe the sooner we can start to foster empathy and acceptance the better; books have a very special role to play here.
Hello – A Welcoming Story is a very well thought out, cleverly constructed book written by an American teacher who has vast experience of teaching English as a new language to refugee children and the book is inspired by her own students. This is very apparent in the structure of the book. The narrative is simple and very accessible but opens the door wide for discussion and talk and this can be on varying levels depending on the age and prior knowledge or life-events of the children. The very special element of this book is the clever two in one story book where readers are quickly able to see the story from all the children’s perspectives – both the refugee children and their new classmates. This is an exceptional tool for exploring acceptance and diversity with young children. As an educational consultant with experience of using books and creativity to explore feelings, ideas and the world I feel this book provides easy access to both sides of the story and so many opportunities to promote discussion and talk. The book allows teachers to focus the discussion on areas that they feel are appropriate to their own children and given the simple narrative it could be used to great effect with a wide range of children. When we start to talk about feelings and life experiences it is crucial that we create a safe space and an accepting environment for children; this book enables that in the way it is written, illustrated and constructed.
This book can be used in so many ways to open talk and discussion around acceptance and diversity and can be done on different levels. The book can be easily and wonderfully explored through a thematic approach bringing in PSHE and citizenship, English, humanities and the creative arts whilst all the time starting to create a firm foundation of empathy, understanding and acceptance amongst young children; the importance of which cannot be underestimated.