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Beegu (2003) by Alexis Deacon

When Beegu’s spaceship crashes, she finds herself lost on Earth. She tries to talk to rabbits, trees and leaves, but nothing can understand her. Fortunately, some children are keen to be her friends until a big, unwelcoming Earth creature appears. Beegu is a fantastic insight into our world from an outsider’s perspective and shows how accepting children can be.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? (2006) by Carol McCloud and David Messing

An uplifting book that uses the metaphor of filling and dipping into a bucket to show how others are affected by our actions and words. McCloud describes numerous ways in which buckets can be filled and dipped into, which provides a great starting point for children to think of their own ways to fill other people’s buckets. To extend the bucket metaphor, children could make their own buckets and be given physical objects, for example a pom pom, each time they show an act of kindness.

Here We Are (2017) by Oliver Jeffers

A truly inspiring non-fiction picture book with a heartfelt message as Jeffers introduces his new-born son to Earth. The stunning illustrations and optimistic words alongside Jeffers’ wit make it a beautiful introduction to life on Earth and the importance of respecting our planet and those around us.

Oi Frog (2014) by Kes Gray and Jim Field

An amusing exploration of rhyme. A curious frog questions where various animals are supposed to sit, and brilliant illustrations and a grumpy cat reveal the answers. By looking at the pictures, children can guess the rhymes and the book ends with the frog asking what dogs sit on!

The Bear and the Piano (2015) by David Litchfield

A heart-warming story about longing, fulfilling dreams and true friendship. One day, the bear encounters a piano and his appreciation for its music increases daily. The bear’s dreams come true when he is invited to New York. He becomes a renowned Broadway star but learns that there is no place like home.

The Black Book of Colours (2006) by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria

An extraordinary, thought-provoking book that reveals how people experience the world differently. Thomas is blind and relies on his sense of taste, smell, touch and hearing. Raised drawings on each page convey the images that Thomas associates with different colours and the accompanying Braille letters introduce an alternative way of reading.

The Colour Monster (2012) by Anna Llenas

Emotions can be confusing and expressing feelings can be even more of a challenge. Llenas takes the reader on a journey through Colour Monster’s emotions where each emotion is given a colour and presented as a beautiful illustration. Compartmentalising emotions and providing relatable experiences supports children’s emotional development. The Colour Monster is also available as a pop-up book.

The Day the Crayon’s Quit (2013) by Oliver Jeffers

Duncan wants to colour, but his crayons are fed up. The crayons have quit and left persuasive letters in the crayon box. The letters are a success and Duncan learns to respect and use each colour. This thought-provoking book could make children look at their crayons in different way.

The Dot (2003) by Peter H. Reynolds

Vashti is frustrated: she believes that she just can’t draw. Vashti jabs at a piece of paper to prove her point and surprisingly, her teacher asks her to sign the paper. This sparks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of self-discovery, and she encourages another child to embark on a similar artistic journey. A wonderful story about friendship, self-confidence and overcoming a fixed mindset.

The Storm Whale (2013) by Benji Davies

Noi is often left alone as his father is a hard-working fisherman. One day, Noi finds a washed-up baby whale. Noi tries to keep his new friend a secret until he realises that the whale will one day have to return to the sea. Through this inspiring, heart-wrenching story and stunning illustrations, Davies proves that friendship has no boundaries and can transcend size, species, language and more.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968) by Judith Kerr

A much-loved classic that has transcended generations. Sophie and her mother are having an ordinary day until an unlikely visitor knocks on their door. The anthropomorphised tiger is extremely greedy, lacks table manners and causes havoc. As it was published over 50 years ago, children may not be familiar with certain words, but this provides a great stimulus to infer the meaning of new vocabulary.

You’re Called What?! (2018) by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson

A humorous picture book that features a selection of animals with extraordinary names. The animals are determined to change their names, but before they can do that, they must reveal their current names (cue hysterical laughter). Animals include a monkeyface prickleback, a blob fish and an aha ha wasp. The book ends with fact files about each animal, brilliant for children who are keen to learn more about the unusual animals.

Written by Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a primary school teacher and an early years and primary specialist tutor with Witherow Brooke. An expert in children's literature and phonics, Emma holds an MA in English Literature from Edinburgh, as well as a PGCE and a Master's of Education in Critical Approaches to Children's Literature from Cambridge University.

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