Summary: A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

Release Date: July 2018
Age Group: Childrens, Picture Book
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

REVIEW

Illustrations
The illustrations of All Are Welcome is top notch. I love when I get an advanced copy of an unbound book and I really hit the jackpot with this one because several of its pages are poster worthy! The illustrations are beautiful and the attention to cultural detail was beautiful.

Storyline
I enjoyed reading this aloud and the rhyming text was fun. You can spend as much or little time as you want on each page, again the illustrations are great.The repetition of All Are Welcome Here was such a kind, beautiful mantra.

Message
To preface, here is the cultural learning environment of my elementary children: we live deep in Southeast Texas, we live in a small town of approximately 14,000, our town is at least 80% Caucasian and there are about 50 churches along our main street.

With that said, my children are well traveled and have experienced a lot of different cultures in their young lives. They live in a small Texas town but they live large. When I first previewed All Are Welcome, I quickly identified several culture specific norms that I was sure would be pointed out and followed-up with “why do they…“. And it would have been perfect and encouraged because that’s how we learn.

But when I read it aloud to my youngest monster (first grader), what I expected him to point out (i.e. the Jewish child’s cap or the little girls hijab) just wasn’t the case. He was more interested in what the students science experiments were and where the visually impaired child got his sunglasses because “that would have been my friend” and are the Chinese dances like the Hawaiians?

My older monster, who is in the 4th grade, was a bit more observant and had more detailed questions.

Why was there a LGBTQ flag displayed like it was a country? 

How was the pregnant mom pregnant if she was married to another woman?

😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳

Yeah it got real, quick. This is the perfect example of when the phrase “Love is Love” just won’t cut it. I honestly wasn’t expecting this and it caught me off guard but it made me pause and think a minute.

Alright, I stewed on it for a week. And here were my take-away thoughts:

  1. Prejudices are truly a learned behaviors. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s not.
  2. Curiosity begins innocently and we need to be there to cultivate it. Whether you are for or against a cultural norm, you’ve got to be willing to talk about it. 
  3. I think the flag should not have been included and neither should the pregnant lesbian. It took away from the innocence of the message. 
  4. At the end of the day, All Are Welcome.

With that said, the book sleeve is the real gem. It unfolds into a poster that has each cultural different child represented with the phrase “All Are Welcome” at the bottom. This poster should be mass produced and sent to every single school district in the US.

Download HERE

Follow this link to download free bookmarks from the talented Suzanne Kaufman: HERE