The power books have on children is amazing. I’m sure you’ve all watched children gaze at a picture book open-mouthed. It’s truly magical. I wanted to put together a list of children’s books to feel hopeful and positive for the future. As parents, we may have started to see hope on the horizon of the world becoming a little more familiar again. But how are our children feeling? Could this be the perfect time for some new books, new discussions and to keep talking about being hopeful?
I needed to ask someone who knew about these things. I have known my wonderful friend Sophie since we were in college together. She has gone on to teach primary school-aged children, both here and abroad. Her huge passion for picture books is inspiring, always hunting out those books that make children amazed, surprised and ask the questions that only children can!
She has helped me put together this list of 10 children’s books that fit the bill perfectly. These are her favourites to read with her Year 2 class, most recently over Zoom. Some of the authors have also very kindly written back to Sophie to ask if the children would like to ask them any questions about the books. What a great thing to do! So if you enjoy this list, please check out Lost in a Picture Book on Instagram for more fabulous suggestions.
The Book of Hopes by Katherine Rundell
The Book of Hopes is a fantastic one to kick off the list. It is a collection put together and edited by Katherine Rundell, made up of contributions from some of our most loved authors such as Jaqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo and Axel Scheffler to name a few. A beautiful collection of stories, poems and illustrations to give a little hope and fantasy. It will also work as a wonderful keepsake for years to come. As a collaborative, there is a donation to the NHS together charities from each book sold. A very worthy shortlister for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 list.
The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson
The rainbow has become a symbol seen so frequently during the pandemic. Displayed in windows, doors and roadsides. This story illustrates beautifully how a symbol united us all and kept us connected. This story helps to navigate little ones through the complex emotions of missing loved ones but hope for the future. The illustrations by Emily Hamilton are beautiful, bright and colourful. As with the previous book, part of the proceeds will be donated to a charity, in this case, Save the Children.
While We Can’t Hug (A Hedgehog and Tortoise Story) by Eoin McLaughlin
What a simple but touching story. The emphasis here is speaking to children about how to show affection and love to one another whilst we are social distancing. The illustrations by Polly Dunbar are really beautiful as they show little expressions on the characters in gentle, pastel shades. I think this book is needed in a time when Zoom calls and seeing Grandparents from parked cars is still the norm.
Captain Tom Moore Little People Big Dreams by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
The life of Captain Tom Moore, the veteran who raised over £30 million for the NHS during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, is celebrated in this beautiful book. As with all the books in the Little People Big Dreams series, the illustrations are bright, the story is simple and the meaning clearly conveyed. Another book that has wonderfully offered to donate 3% of the cover price to NHS Charities Together.
Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
A beautiful guide to planet Earth! Written pre-pandemic, it offers a wonderful insight as if you were ‘new’ to the Earth. A Number 1 New York Times Best Seller and TIME best book of the year 2017, it’s on a lot of people’s bookshelves for good reason.
The words are moving, yet hopeful. The illustrations are beautiful and it poises a lot of questions for curious minds. A perfect bedtime read.
My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain
This book is not pandemic specific but gives a wonderful opportunity to open up the discussion with little ones about any worries or stress.
The book is written by the lovely Nadiya Hussain from the Great British Bake Off. As someone who has openly spoken about her struggles with a stress disorder, it aids conversations that may be difficult with school-aged children.
The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton
A beautifully illustrated and written book, read by an adult can have a lot of different meanings. To a child, it may simply show the main character creating a wonderful garden.
But for parents, this book demonstrates a lot more, showing themes of hope, diversity and promoting change starting from home.
The Invisible by Tom Percival
Children in poverty aren’t your usual theme for a children’s book. This topic is so beautifully addressed, showing the main character as ‘invisible’ to others. You follow the story of Isabel, set against beautiful blue and purple tones.
There is a heartfelt note from the author at the back of the book. He explains how this book is based on his own experiences and how he felt as a child. A wonderful book to share with your little ones to maybe open a discussion and show kindness to others.
Wisp: A Story of Hope by Zana Fraillon
Whisp is a story of a little boy, Idris, who lives in a refugee camp surrounded by fences and tents. When the Whisp arrives, it tells the families of the lands they have left behind. What will happen when Idris holds the Whisp?
Again, a topic that isn’t the norm for a children’s book. The theme may well pass by the younger ones, but maybe this is also a book to be read by adults to learn about hope and empathy? The pictures beautifully illustrate the tone and theme throughout.
The Year We Muddled Through by Lauren Fennemore
What a funny year it’s been eh?! As schools start to go back and vaccines start to roll out, this rhyming story can be kept as a keepsake or read together. As children transition back, this book is warm and hopeful for the future. A really positive book that is a lovely keepsake or an original gift.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and it’s given you some thought as to how we learn from the pandemic, look forward to the future and keep connected to what and who is most important.
If you are thinking of making any keepsakes for the year or a time capsule, I have written a post about how to make salt dough hand and footprints. Have a look on the blog and check it out if you fancy!
Do you have any more suggestions for books to read to be hopeful? Comment below or drop me a message on my Instagram