Political Picture Books- for 'British Values', and: Citizenship, SMSC, PSHE, RSE
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Rule of Law
Story, song and video playlist
Protecting minibeasts. Living and dead things (Year 2), fieldwork (Key Stage 1).
These books are about looking after creepy crawlies. Empathising with minibeasts could help us to consider how other humans feel too. The books could be used to support the Eco-Schools award Conservation theme, for example, alongside a biodiversity or litter project in the school grounds.
Temperate Microhabitat: Hey, Little Ant. Bookshop, ebay, video
Phillip and Hannah Hoose, Tricycle Press.
Children are asked to decide whether an ant should be left to live or stamped on. The ant speaks in rhyme to express their feelings. They plead with the human to imagine what it is like, and regulate their urges. Through considering both sides of the argument, children can practice responsibility and respect others as they respect themselves.
Activities: Cut out and stick ant body, teaching resources
Temperate Microhabitat: Stephen and the Beetle. Bookshop, video
Jorge Lujan and Chiara Carrer. Groundwork Books Ltd.
Decide whether the beetle should be left alive or killed.
Temperate Microhabitat: Junebug: No Life Too Small. Bookshop, ebay, video
Nicole Daniels and Addy Rivera Sonda. Vegan Publishers.
Junebug's friends are not always kind to other animals. Junebug politely suggests they take responsibility to help animals in need, and treat them how we would wish to be treated ourselves. She makes her point without making her friends feel bad. The children agree to new values and codes of behaviour for working together, which demonstrates that cultures can evolve. This book sets an accessible example for little children; and my preschooler has acted out scenes. On a scientific note, this book alludes to the fact that bees pollinate plants, not just stating that they make honey, as most children’s books do.
Temperate Microhabitat: Nature Trail. Bookshop, ebay, video
Benjamin Zephaniah and Nila Aye. Hachette Children’s Group.
A diverse community of children enjoy time outside. They love the animals intrinsically in their various ecosystems, not just because they like honey. The book is written by a vegan, multi- award-winning poet and activist.
Fantasy Microhabitat: Horton Hears a Who. Bookshop, video, film
Dr. Seuss. HarperCollins Publishers.
Horton the Elephant protects some tiny beings.
Activities: Discussion and gardening, teaching ideas, also a film
Songs: Nick Cope and Philip and Hannah Hoose both have songs about ant protection.
Not fighting/ anti toxic masculinity/ gentle boys/ prevent Human health and hygiene (Y2).
These nonviolent, peaceful books challenge stereotypes of toxic masculinity which hurts us all. They can help us feel that it is safe and acceptable to be loving and kind.
Fantasy: The Sunflower Sword. Bookshop, ebay, video
Mark Sperring and Miriam Latimer. Andersen Press Ltd.
Dragons and humans find peace and understanding through a flower. The little knights had all been at war with the dragons, until it became apparent they were happier as friends. The book shows us the dangers of fighting, and could lead onto safer activities, such as planting sunflowers.
Activities: Crafts, gardening and peace pledge
Fantasy: The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight. Bookshop, ebay, video, free extract
Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty. Scholastic.
In this rhyming book, the mice find peace with various monsters when a young mouse demonstrates understanding, and practices what makes him happy. He has a strong sense of himself, and resolves conflict peacefully, bonding with monsters over a shared love of story books. He does not need to prove himself by being asked to kill. In the end, the mouse parents realise they should be proud of Leo for being himself. My preschool child said it's scary.
Activities: Colouring, spot the difference, drawing and educators guide, lesson plan
Farm: Ferdinand. Bookshop, ebay, video, song, free text, audio and video
Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, Faber & Faber.
This book is about bullfighting, which is banned or restricted in some countries and parts of Spain. Ferdinand the bull lives in peace and happiness without the urge to fight. Other people thought they knew what was good for Ferdinand- fighting. However, all he wanted to do was smell flowers and live in the present.
Activities: Crafts, discussion, module
Fantasy: Zog, Zog and the flying doctors. Bookshop, ebay, free presentation, video
Book series, sticker book, and TV shows: Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler, Scholastic.
With rhyme and with, the humans and dragons stop to think, stop fighting, and follow their inner callings to help others. As my child quotes: ‘stop you silly chumps, the world’s already far too full of cuts & burns & bumps’.
This book opens discussions about stereotypical gender norms, children’s rights, and violence in the past and present culture. It also raises points about conventional definitions of success; Zog did not earn golden stars at school, but kept trying until he found his place in the world. Princess Pearl did not follow the life set out for her; and, as she did, she empowered Zog and Sir Gadabout to become unlikely friends. Stepping outside of convention, they became open to new experiences and relationships. Despite taking the harder path of nonviolence, the doctors eventually win the approval of their peers. Children learn that they should expect respectful relationships at home and at school.
Activities: Activity sheets with wings, activity sheets with doctor bag, colouring and maze, comprehension, teaching notes
Songs: The Mosaic Project sing 'Fighting is Not the Solution', and made a curriculum book and free download colouring book.
Videos: Science ships are better than pirate ships playlist.
Story, song and video playlist.
Consent/ not controlling our friends. Human geography, fieldwork (KS1).
The animals in these books discover they can find contentment, and connect more deeply with others when they are not trying to be the boss.
Riverbank: King Otter. Bookshop, video
Jane Porter, Simon and Schuster, Ltd.
An otter finds some dressing up clothes, and declares himself king of the riverbank animals. He is bossy and selfish. However, finding sanctuary in nature, he remembers himself, his friends, and how to behave.
Activities: Recycling poster and recycled crafts
City: Kind Leonard's Teddy. Bookshop, video
Phoebe Swan, Child's Play.
Leonard the lion lives an extravagant lifestyle; he only uses things once before throwign them straight out of the window. Thankfully, he learns to repair and recycle.
Activities: Crafts, recycling posters and letters, teachers notes, teachers notes
City: The King Who Banned the Dark. Bookshop, video
Emily Haworth- Booth, Pavilion.
The King banns the dark, but he doesn't get away with it.
Activities: Activity pack, crafts
Countryside: Beyond the Fence. Bookshop, video
Maria Gulemetova. Child's Play International Ltd.
Activities: Primary teaching notes, more primary teaching notes
Mountain: This Moose Belongs to Me. Bookshop, video
Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins Publishers.
A human claims ownership of a wild, mountain creature, only to find that someone else has too. They are forced to learn that friends do not like being told what to do, and you can love without conflict.
Activities: Teaching notes, more teaching notes
Songs: Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land has teacher's notes with lyrics (the link opens a Word document).
Letting our friends be gentle and happy. Herbivore, carnivore, omnivore (Y1), food chain (Y2).
Anyone who is different can empathise with these animal's struggles to follow plant based diets, despite the dominant culture. The books could support the Healthy Living topic in the Eco-Schools award, which includes offering vegan school meals.
Sky: I Am Henry Finch. Bookshop, ebay, video
Alexis Deacon and Silvia Viviane Schwarz. Walker Books.
Henry Finch thinks curiously about his personal truth. This ultimately benefits others, when a monster is convinced to ‘eat plants’ instead of birds. Henry’s journey through ‘The Beast’s’ digestive system led my child to become very curious about intestines. Granny was warned that the book is scary, but does have a happy ending.
The finches live repetitive lives, and are at the mercy of The Beast who occasionally comes to eat one. This is not an enabling environment for free thought. One day, however, Henry discovers his inner voice and decides to act. He dives at the Beast in rebellion, and is eaten alive. Henry develops spiritually by getting to know both himself and the Beast better. He is forced to consider the culture and beliefs of the Beast, who has a family to feed. By understanding and appreciating the Beast’s position, Henry is able to reason with them to eat plants. This is a good use of communication skills. After changing the behaviour of the Beast, Henry goes on to influence the other Finches to enjoy a richer cultural life. Further food reading: 'Diverse Diets: I'm a Vegan', children's cookbooks, what vegans think.
Activities: Fingerprint birds in a tree, fingerprint birds
Savannah: How To Be A Lion. Bookshop, ebay, video
Ed Vere, Penguin.
We stuck this on the wall as it is our favourite. A lion and a duck are curious about the universe and have a loving relationship against the odds. Through his friendship with Marianne the duck, Leonard challenges stereotypes about lions… The pair are an example of cooperation between beings who are different, living the nonviolence they feel is right.
The rest of the lions feel challenged by this deep interspecies bond. They pressurise Leonard, stating that he must conform to the carnivorous norms of their society and 'chomp' Marianne. Despite this fact, Leonard and Marianne still treat the other lions kindly, and ask only that their lifestyle be respected in return.
The book is poetic and moving, with humour. Leonard and Marianne apply the same attentiveness to communication and language as to one another. Through self regulation of thought they produce poetry which is succinct and appealing. In a sense, this book is also a celebration of expressive art and strength of character; which could be called spirituality.
Activities: Lion mask, colouring, drawing, writing and primary lessons , crafts, activity pack, comprehension
Prehistory: T. Veg: The Story of a Carrot Crunching Dinosaur. Wordery, ebay, video
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Katherina Manolessou. Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
T. Veg Reg needs carnivore family and friends to show love and openness and accept his herbivore diet. The punchy rhythm and rhymes make the story a fun read, which my preschool child learnt by heart.
As the only vegetarian, Reg feels left out, bullied, and pushed to conform. He wants to belong, but stay true to himself. In the end, the other tyrannosauruses realise the consequences of their actions; giving Reg a party and the support he deserves. Considering Reg’s feelings gives children the chance to practise active empathy and inclusion. The book also exemplifies healthy diets, with a range of colourful fruit and vegetables. It challenges notions that plant based food is boring or non-nutritious. Further food reading: 'Diverse Diets: I'm a Vegan', children's cookbooks, what vegans think.