“All Are Welcome” by Alaxandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Alexandra Penfold’s book, All Are Welcome is a favorite in my home. Whenever we borrow it from the library (which is often), my 5-year-old and 3-year-old have me read it to them multiple times a day. Suzanne Kaufman’s colorful illustrations are a delightful pair to Penfold’s narrative stating “all are welcome here,” no matter one's appearance or background.
As the story is introduced, there is a paragraph explaining how this book is inspired by Kaufman’s daughters’ school, “where diversity and community are not just protected, but celebrated.” Through its fun-to-read rhythm and rhyme, All Are Welcome gives the reader a bird’s-eye view of a typical school day from sunup to sundown for students of all backgrounds at this particular school. The prose and illustrations combine to foster inclusivity and a sense of community as they highlight the students’ similarities and differences in a fun and light-hearted way.
All Are Welcome is an excellent book for any young reader! It would be perfect to read in a classroom, at home, or even at a library's storytime. I would especially recommend reading it to kids aged 3 - 8. Teaching kids the importance of inclusion and the beauty of diversity from a young age is imperative to raising them to be kind and accepting. All Are Welcome is the perfect place to start!
The Emerald Project is a Utah-based organization that carefully designs dialogues to engage with non-Muslims to make Salt Lake Valley a more welcoming home to Muslims. As many of our refugee friends belong to the Muslim faith, we applaud opportunities that foster understanding and were pleased to support The Emerald Project’s 3rd annual “Slam the Islamophobia” event on February 15th.
Refugees often risk their lives crossing deserts, jungles, and oceans all in the search for shelter, freedom, or happiness. Yet, even once they’ve reached physical safety, mental mountains emerge that make daily life an uphill climb. At the November 2022 conference for the Utah Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (USOPHE), presenters Shurooq Al Jewari and Sasha Sloan discussed mental health and inclusion, focusing on immigrants and refugees.
Holidays are an important time to include newcomers. Newcomers are often aching for the traditions and holiday magic they knew at home - and the connections with family and friends. The Garcias* came from a strong family and community that knew generous and giving holiday traditions. I knew, when I met our new friends from Venezuela, the rich bond we would have; this was a kindred spirit family. Even though we have been bad at communicating (Google Translate is such a false hope), it was easy to find connections that helped us love each other.