I’ve seen many questions on social media, asking which books teachers will read aloud to their classroom during the first week of school. I don’t teach in a classroom but I’ve thought about this question anyway. The book that rose to the top of my list is this one, We Belong. It’s a brilliant book, both in writing and in illustration, every word selected with care, every bit of art inclusive and reassuring.
We Belong brings up our differences and gently helps us realize they don’t matter.
Maybe you’re tall as a big redwood tree.
When your kite becomes stuck, you just pluck it free! …
Maybe you’re short.
Down low to the ground. …
Does it matter?
We’re each only as high
as a small grain of sand
next to mountains or sky.
This book is good at perspective, both in words and art. Making comparisons, offering alternative ways to look at people and our surroundings, giving the reader or listener wide open spaces to consider and choose a path.
It’s a terrific book to read out loud but be sure you show the art at the same time. They work so well together. With each page turn, I kept saying, “No, this is my favorite spread.” The color palette is sumptuous. The children and adults (and kites) depicted are inspiring in their diversity.
You could use this book to teach compare-and-contrast but I hope first and foremost you will use it to offer hope and embrace a community of people who are each unique and valued.
written by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Carlos Vélez Aguilera
Carolrhoda Books, 2022
ISBN 978 – 1541599130