Our Balanced Learning® curriculum includes many books that encourage children to feel a sense of belongingness and compassion. One of those books is “I Walk with Vanessa” by Kerascoët, a husband-and-wife team of French illustrators, comics and animation artists.
We spoke to the couple to learn more about their book and how important a simple act of kindness can be.
What is the story you wanted to tell with “I Walk with Vanessa”?
We wanted to tell the story of an ally, someone who has not experienced bullying herself but has witnessed it and who cannot and does not want to let it go without reacting; even if she thinks it’s too late at the beginning, it’s never too late to do a generous act show compassion.
Why is it important to foster a sense of belongingness in children?
Because there is only one Earth, and we are all on it.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That it is essential to have empathy and that it is necessary to act even with small gestures because these can have immense consequences on people in difficulty. You have to do to others what you would like others to do for you because it is a real accomplishment and you feel much better by acting.
Why do you feel it’s important to show diverse characters?
Because it’s a reflection of real life. We are all human and all different, and our differences are richness to be shared together.
Why did you start writing books for children?
Because we love children’s books so much. I (Sébastien) think that these are the most important books in life because they are the gateway to an infinity of books and literally the entrance to the world of imagination.
What inspired you to tell this particular story?
Kristen Hall, our beloved agent, told us a true story of a young girl who, after being bullied in her school, received the support of the majority of students who accompanied her the following days. It touched us and thanks to Lee Wade (our editor), it became a book.
Belongingness Discussion Questions
At Primrose, the books in our classrooms help teach children that everyone belongs and that differences are to be celebrated. After you read “I Walk with Vanessa” with your child, ask them these questions to reinforce these important concepts.
- Why is kindness important?
- How are you kind to your friends?
- What are some other ways you can show kindness?
- How can you help someone who may be having a hard time?
For more interviews with authors of books in Primrose classrooms, check out:
- Ken Wilson-Max on How Books Can Encourage Children to Dream
- Markette Sheppard Writes Her Own Story as a Working Parent
- Lizzy Rockwell on the Magic of Collaborating with Children
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