Political Picture Books- for 'British Values', and: Citizenship, SMSC, PSHE, RSE
Updated: Jun 15
Rule of Law
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.
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.
Jorge Lujan and Chiara Carrer. Groundwork Books Ltd.
Decide whether the beetle should be left alive or killed.
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.
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.
Dr. Seuss. HarperCollins Publishers.
Horton the Elephant protects some tiny beings.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Videos: Science ships are better than pirate ships 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.
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
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.
Emily Haworth- Booth, Pavilion.
The King banns the dark, but he doesn't get away with it.
Maria Gulemetova. Child's Play International Ltd.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Activities: Cut out dinosaurs and plate
Ed Vere.Penguin Random House.
Bird appeals to Max the cat’s love and compassion to let her live long enough to learn to fly. Curiosity prevails, and Max agrees to help. Through spending time together, Max and Bird learn that friends have fun together, and don't eat each other.
Katie Brosnan. Child's Play International Ltd.
Keith wants to be a pigeon, and to defend pigeon rights.
Ellie Sandall. Hodder Children's Books.
This book is full of joy.
Mutual Respect and Tolerance
Recognising what we have in common. Human body parts (Y1).
Cooperative communities. Habitats and interdependence (Y2).
Animals in these true stories share and collaborate, inspiring us to do the same.
Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks. Pan Macmillan.
An example of mutual symbiosis.
Isabel Otter and Clover Robin. Little Tiger Press Group.
Learn how different types of animals cooperate, written in haiku.
Songs: The Sharing a Shell song.
Caring family relationships. Animal babies (Y2).
These books remind us that all animals want (species- appropriate) care from their adult. Mammal babies and parents do not want to be separated, as they are in farms, zoos, and as pets.
Jill Barklem, HaperperCollins Publishers.
In the book Poppies Babies, the animals work together to provide for the needs of the new mouse babies.
Eric Carle, Penguin Random House Childrens UK.
Real- life Daddy fish caring for their children, and giving one another supportive comments. Clive and His Babies is a good book about humans.
Jorge Lujan and Madana Sadat. Enchanted Lion Books.
Animal mummies and babies.
Readers can draw their own conclusions from this wordless book. It is about finding out the truth and taking responsibility. Animals are pictures in various different situations. Decide how it makes you feel, and turn the page to free them, and reunite babies with their parents.
Steve Jenkins, Dereck Walter, Caprice Crane, Cori Doerfield. Little, Brown & Company.
Esther the pig is adopted by her two grateful human dads with love and openness. The dads support one another to care for Esther. Readers become sensitive to how Esther’s dads feel when she arrives, and briefly goes missing. We also develop an awareness of Esther’s needs, which can sometimes be funny, or similar to our own. The book offers the chance to compare a farm with an animal sanctuary; and highlights that the distinction between farm and companion animals is socially constructed.
Activities: Cut out storyboard and characters, discussion
Temperate countryside: Guess How Much I Love You. Bookshop.
Sam McBrtney. Walker Books Ltd.
Looking after animals. Basic needs of animals (Y2).
The basic needs of animals provided for in these books are similar to our human needs. Everyone wants to have enough to eat and drink, for example.
Leslie Crawford and Sonja Stangl, Stone Pier Press.
Mateo seeks the truth about the lives of hens. He is a gentle role model, who acts with love to rescue, and provide a peaceful life for his chicken friend. Mateo decides to be a kind, active citizen.
Bob Graham, Walker Books Ltd.
A thoughtful boy cures a bird, with love, compassion and caring for the world. Other passers-by ignored the bird, but the boy decided to act. He brought them home, and kept them fed, watered and warm. After nursing the bird back to health, they are set free.
Pip Jones and Sara Olilvie, Published by Simon and Shuster Ltd.
Izzy heals an injured wild bird with love and compassion in this rhyming story. She collects materials to create different gadget designs. She tries her best, and learns that practice makes perfect from her supportive grandfather. In the sequel (The Invention Convention), Izzy creates a recycling machine.
Songs: Izzy Gizmo songs.
Community gardening and forests How plants grow (Y2).
These books relate to the Eco-School award topic Healthy Living, which includes growing food, and plant based food. It could also cover conservation in the school grounds, to promote biodiversity and mange water.
Gillian Hibbs. Child's Play International Ltd.
Little Errol lives in a flat in a city, like I do. He organises his neighbours to set up a community garden on the roof.
Tropical Forest: The Girl Who Planted Trees. Bookshop
Caryl Hart and Anastasia Suvorova. Nosy Crow Ltd.
A girl replants a forest on the mountain where she lives, and eventually inspires her neighbours to help.
Marine conservation and litter picking. Materials (Y1), continents and a non- European country (KS1).
The ocean clean up in these books could inspire a clean up in the school grounds. Eco-School topics include conservation, such as biodiversity, marine environments and litter picks. The global citizenship topic also includes charity work, which could be a litter pick too
Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, Penguin Random House Children’s UK.
Community organiser, Rocket unites people to care for our world with a party litter pick. She is supported by her family, who run a wildlife rescue centre. My child now has a litter picker ‘graptor’. Learn about the physical features of Jamaica, a Caribbean Island, and non European country.
Ellie Jackson and Laura Callwood, Under Pressure Media Lmt.
Tourists decide to rescue a whale stranded in a discarded fishing net, a major source of ocean plastic. This book is part of the Wild Tribe Heroes sustainability series.
Fiona Barker and Howard Gray, Matthew James Publishing Lmt.
Setsuko lives in peace with the sea, and inspires others to understand, wonder at, and protect it. Setsuko has a deep awareness of life in the ocean. She cares for the whale she befriends, but does not make them stay. The story is set in Japan, Asia.
Forest conservation campaigning. Physical geography, continents and a non- European country (KS1).
The Eco- School award global citizenship topic could be informed by these books about global forests and the challenges they face.
Yorit Rozin, Sadhana Forest.
The story is set in a community in India, Asia, where people practise peace through their work planting trees and looking after rescue cows. This is a firm favourite film in our family, which is both informative and comforting. At the intentional community, Shanti participates in planning daily activities and agreeing rules. People come to stay with Shanti’s family from around the world, experience their values, and cooperate in their work. I visited myself. There is an accompanying song.
James Sellick, Frann Preston- Gannon, Hachette Children's Group.
A rhyming story based on a Greenpeace campaign video, set in Indonesia, Asia. The book sparked a puppet show about caring for our world and seeking truth; my preschool child talked about it for weeks. Buddy's Rainforest Rescue is also about orangutans and deforestation.
Activities: School resource pack
Lynne Cherry. Shell Educational Publishing.
Animals and a child (indigenous to Brazil, South America) whisper in a logger’s ear about deforestation while he dreams. The logger asks himself an ethical question and decides to leave their home intact. The books shows the interconnectedness of all beings, but also how we are thinking individuals with the power to change.
Activities: Rainforest lesson
There are many books about Jane Goodall. She travelled to study chimps in Tanzania, Africa; going on to become a conservation campaigner and vegan. Jane shows responsibility and community building; Roots and Shoots is her education project. There is a UK branch, US, and global.
Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico. Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd.
Sweden, Europe, a girl called Greta started a movement which changed the world. You probably know the story, and here it is in fairytale style.
Lorna Gutierrez and Polly Noakes. Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd.
A book about utilising your individual liberty for good.
Keith Among the Pigeons also shows Keith using placards and pamphlets.
Elections. Human geography, fieldwork (KS1).
Rainforest: President of the Jungle, video
Andre Rodrigues, Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo and Pedro Markun. Nancey Paulsen Books.
Rainforest animals elect a new leader.
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Robert Starling. Andersen Press Ltd.
A modern take on Animal Farm, in which some animals hold an election.
City: Mayor Bunny's Chocolate Town. Bookshop, video
Elys Dolan. Oxford University Press.
Mr Bunny would like to be in charge, but he isn't very good at it, and cannot keep the outlandish promises he made to the electorate.
Eleanor Levenson and Marek Jagucki. Fisherton Press Ltd.
Find out what happens when an election is called, and parents go to vote.
H A Rey. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
A monkey participates in a school vote.
Lisbeth Kaiser and Ana Sanfelippo. Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd.
The story of the famous Votes for Woman campaigner.
Nick Butterworth. HarperCollins Publishers.
Percy is a local government employee who is friends with the resident wildlife.
Strikes, industrial action, trade unions- an individual liberty. Human geography, fieldwork (KS1).
Elys Dolan. Oxford University Press.
In a factory not dissimilar to a factory farm, chickens 'pop' out chocolate eggs. When bourgeoisie Mr Bunny forces them to pop harder, the proletarian chickens rise up.
Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. HarperCollins Publishers.
Crayons leave emotional notes for their owner.
Doreen Cronin. Simon & Schuster.
Cows request improvements to their inevitably exploitative working conditions.