Back to School: Embracing a New Chapter as we reflect on the themes & inclusive bestsellers we curated academic year.
It seems British weather has finally come to its senses. We are back to business⛈️ as usual☺️ All things being equal, by now summer’s warmth should have long yielded to the crispness of autumn. That’s not been the case. The Great British weather failed to get the memo that it needs to be hot but not when kids and educators are stuck in classrooms and parents have to endure sweaty school runs.
Whatever the case, it’s that time again - back to school. A season of fresh beginnings, renewed friendships, and exciting possibilities. For students, parents, and educators alike, this annual transition carries a unique blend of anticipation and nostalgia. A return to routine; backpacks filled with fresh supplies, cardigans marked with names and a prayer to remain in our possession but more than anything, curious minds prepared to soak in knowledge. They are thrilled to be reuniting with friends after a break. Along with the challenge of new subjects this creates a sense of growth and exploration.
Parents often find themselves juggling emotions - pride in their child’s growth, concerns about challenges ahead, and the bittersweet realisation that time is passing quickly. Pretty quickly, preparing lunches, attending parent-teacher meetings, and supporting their child’s academic journey become their daily rhythms.
Educators on their part, armed with lesson plans and a passion for teaching, embark on a mission to inspire and empower the next generation. Their classrooms transform into havens of learning, fostering creativity and critical thinking.
For us at Happier Every Chapter, it’s a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect on the stories shared and transformations witnessed during the last academic year. Looking back at the case studies from our partner schools, we feel proud and honoured to have been part of the story of so many transformations. So in todays blog, we look back on some of the books and themes we curated for 6 of Little Literates (4-7yrs) boxes which went to partner schools last year.
Last September, our box themed "New Beginnings" was a delightful literary journey bringing fresh perspectives into the world of reading for children starting or returning to school. The two standout titles, "The Great Big Book of Friends" and "First Day at Cow School" encapsulated the essence of this theme. "The Great Big Book of Friends", a truly inclusive book by Mary Hoffman warmed hearts with its charming tales of companionship, reminding us of the importance of knowing how to build friendships and relationships in our own new beginnings; a worthwhile lesson for children and adults alike. Meanwhile, "First Day at Cow School" a charming tale of courage and adaptation, was perfect for the children facing a new chapter in life. It was not just a collection of books; it also included as usual worksheets to deepen comprehension and gifts to make unboxing more exciting.
The "Beauty in Black History" themed box shipped in you guessed it, October! A remarkable tribute to the rich cultural tapestry of the African diaspora and African American History during the month of October. With Bestsellers like "Granddad Mandela" and "Spreading My Wings," education and self-care blended seamlessly and perfectly embodied of the spirit of Black History not being just about the past, but also the beauty of the present and the promise of the future. "Granddad Mandela" offered a poignant glimpse into Nelson Mandela's life through the eyes of his granddaughter teaching resilience and the power of forgiveness, while "Spreading My Wings" inspires with Maya Angelou's empowering words.
There's no lie in this...most characters in children's Christmas books are white. Whether the characters are Santa Claus or a otherwise, Christmas picture books with diverse characters are only slightly less rare than hen's teeth. If you are like me, you are bored stiff of the offer of low-hanging fruit like The Nutcracker. Whilst a good story and great history lesson, sometimes one needs to step away from the first this or first that trope and just read a good story about ordinary people, a different cast of characters, cultures, family set-ups etc who are experiencing and enjoying the joy of Christmas. So imagine my joy when I found the incredible gem that is Sarah's Two Nativities! It had to be our book of the month for our Cracking Christmas box! And that is no mean feat given that the other book was Grace at Christmas.
Janine Fraser stuns in Sarah's Two Nativities. Sarah, a young girl with parents from different religious and cultural backgrounds, navigates the beauty of celebrating two unique nativities. This story beautifully portrays the power of family, unity, and the true meaning of Christmas. The children were captivated by the vibrant illustrations and the heartfelt message this book conveys. I won't lie, even as an adult, I found the message in this book incredibly impactful.
Fast Forward to February, and we shipped our "Fear Free February" boxes. This celebrated Children's Mental Health Awareness with 2 popular bestsellers; A Huge Bag of Worries and Jabari Jumps. Through these books, the children embarked on a journey of empathy and resilience. It certainly left a lasting impact by sparking meaningful discussions in homes and classrooms about mental health awareness!
A Huge Bag of Worries" by Virginia Ironside took young readers on an emotional rollercoaster seeing how Jenny's worries grew into a gigantic bag. Through Jenny's journey, the lesson about the importance of opening up about their anxieties and seeking help was brought home.
"Jabari Jumps" by Gaia Cornwall taught resilience, self-belief, and the joy of conquering fears as children followed the story of Jabari, a young boy who is determined to overcome his fear of jumping off the diving board. There's never been a more perfect book to help children understand that it's okay to be scared and that they can triumph over their fears.
Two gorgeous books, lots of invaluable impact; fostering empathy, promoting open dialogue, and nurturing emotional intelligence and the encouragement to tackle life's challenges head-on.
Remember that it's not just 2-book packs we do. Many of our partner schools bought our Mental Health Awareness Bundle as well as our International Women's Month Bundle pictured below as a way of availing more inclusive stories to their pupils within the libraries.
There was no way we wouldn't include our April theme..Earthly Easter in this blog. We centred books on Climate Change in celebration of Earth Day. More and more recently, I've been encountering reasons to despair about the state of disrepair the earth is slowly falling into. It is a living breathing thing; a truth incredibly hard for some to warm up to. There is an opportunity with the younger generation though; a chance to instil better beliefs, better behaviours, a sense of responsibility towards Mother Earth🌿🌎📚 and better outcomes for our world. Elliot's Arctic Surprise combined science, storytelling and icy adventure to teach the importance of conservation and the wonders of the Arctic as Elliot, the young explorer journeyed through the Earth's diverse ecosystems. Hello Mr World by Michael Foreman continued embedding the message of fostering empathy and understanding inviting young readers to discover the magic of our planet's many cultures and ecosystems. A magical book promoting global awareness, cultural appreciation, and environmental consciousness.
We thought our theme tagline for June was quite catchy "Pride & RefuJune"...or maybe its just us🤗. Coined for no other reason than to capture the spirit of the Pride & Refugee Week Celebrations in the month of June. For this month, we really wanted our young readers to embrace the spirit of Pride Month and Refugee Week and to instil in them the values of love, acceptance, and empathy. The powerful reads for this box, need little or no introduction. With haunting and immersive illustrations, this heartbreaking story of hope in the darkest of places really shines the light on the plight of refugees with a glimpse into the life of Idris, the refugee boy. Joyously inclusive, Julian is a Mermaid has a good claim to being the most progressive picture book of the decade. This story of a boy who wants to be a mermaid and participate in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade will resonate with all kids who have secret dreams. Julián shares his dream and identity with his Abuela, but when he first tries dressing as a mermaid, he does it when he's alone. Truly a celebration of self-expression, acceptance, and the power of love and understanding within a family, the stunning artwork captures the essence of Julian's transformation and emotions.
These are other books are included in our Beauty of Diversity Book bundle which is popular with schools who just want to diversify their libraries and make inclusive books more available to a wider community of pupils.
As we take steps to start the new academic year right, it is important to remember to make inclusive and representative stories a central part of the learning journey. Back to school signifies more than just a return to academic pursuits; it symbolizes the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the uncertainties of life, we embrace each new school year with hope and determination, knowing that education remains a beacon of opportunity and growth.