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New Beginnings

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Best Children’s Books about New Beginnings

Whether it’s books to begin a new year, stories that explore fresh starts or tales of resolutions and new challenges, we’ve put together a list of picturebooks about new beginnings and starting afresh. These books could be used in school assemblies, at home or as classroom stories.

Books about making resolutions and overcoming challenges

Dan Santat
Graphic Novel
We've all heard about Humpty Dumpty's catastrophic fall, but what about how he got back up again? In this humorous picture book, Humpty Dumpty recounts his brave and arduous journey back up to the top of the wall again. We like the way in which this cleverly illustrated story acknowledges that things go wrong sometimes but that it can be our individual response to such misfortunate that often harvests resilience and hatches us into something stronger than ever before.
Jory John
 & Pete Oswald
Picturebook

If you’ve ever made a New Year resolution to improve your fitness or get outside more, you might just relate to the journey of this hilarious spud. With everything he needs within arm’s reach of the sofa, this potato has it all – multiple TV screens, hundreds of video games and even a button that activates a snack-fetching gadget. He can’t see any reason at all to leave the couch… until the electricity cuts out. The potato steps foot outside and embarks upon a new-found appreciation of fresh air, exercise and the sounds and sights of the great outdoors. After some deep introspection, the potato sets himself a resolution to achieve a better balance between screentime and time enjoying the outdoor world.

This is a really funny book and is always a winner with children. As well as guaranteeing giggles, this story can provide an opportunity to reflect on healthy lifestyles, screentime limits and personal resolutions.

Joseph Coelho
 & Allison Colpoys
Picturebook
A moving, lyrical picture book about a shy child unlocking the power of their own voice through poetry, with the helping hand of an extra special teacher, written by poet and playwright Joseph Coelho. This beautifully illustrated, powerful and heartwarming text shows children that everyone's voice can be powerful and beautiful, however small. Follow a child who is so shy she doesn't speak. With the encouragement of an enchanting and magical teacher, she writes a poem. But a poem is meant to be read aloud. She musters all her courage, stands at the front of the class and shows her classmates that she does have a voice. And her voice is beautiful. The perfect way to encourage empathy in young children and show shy children how to feel brave.
Tom Percival
Picturebook
Meesha loves making things . . . but there's one thing she finds difficult to make - friends. She doesn't know quite what to do, what to say or when to say it. But one day she discovers that she has a special talent that might just help her navigate social situations - and maybe even make new friends. A warm and affectionate look at the joys and difficulties of making and keeping friends, relating to others, and finding your place in the world.

Books about moving to a new place

Wendy Meddour
 & Daniel Egneus

This is a beautiful picturebook that celebrates new beginnings and the power of human connection. Tilly moves to a new home by the sea. She’s sad to learn that her precious dog Shadow is not allowed to go into her new school on her first day. Tilly faces the challenge of a new start alone. At playtime, the teacher notices that Tilly is alone and suggests trying the Friendship Bench. A boy already occupies the bench and the pair form a bond as they work together to transform the old, broken bench into something beautiful.

This is a warm and gentle story. Most children can relate to the feeling of having nobody to play with or having to face a new challenge alone. The story gently encourages readers to seek human connection and reminds us all of the difference that reaching out and making friends can make. The story could be used to encourage children to reflect on how to make new or isolated members of the school community welcome. Could you work together this year to create spaces around the school where lonely children could go, where children can build connections through shared activity or where friendships can blossom?

Joe Todd-Stan
Picturebook
From the award-winning Joe Todd-Stanton, comes an exquisite and heartfelt picture book touching on the bewildering experience of moving house. This beautiful story explores how this can affect a child's sense of belonging, but also how it can open them up to new and wonderful experiences. When Nyla has to leave her home in the countryside to start life again in the city, all she can think about is everything she misses from before. So when a comet comes crashing through the city streets and starts to glow and grow, Nyla can't resist a chance to head somewhere that feels closer to what she had before. But what starts as an escape could be just the thing to make her finally feel at home.
Baroness Floella Benjamin
 & Diane Ewen
Picturebook

Baroness Floella Benjamin offers her own story of the 6000-mile journey from Trinidad to England, told for the youngest children in a picture book called Coming to England – An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation.

The story explores and celebrates what it means to be a British person with Black Caribbean heritage, as well as opening doors to learning about the impact of Operation Windrush and experiences of racism. Speaking about the background to the book, Baroness Floella says,”Britain has always been a nation that’s evolved due to different races coming in, from as far back as you can go. I hope Coming to England makes people of colour feel worthy, appreciated and that they belong and that it makes white people say, ‘That could be me, what would it be like if I moved somewhere else?’.”

Hannah Carmona
 & Anna Cunha
Picturebook

Anita loves the small, beautiful village in the Dominican Republic where she lives. She spends her days exploring the island, imagining herself as a valiant, brave princessa as she watches the ‘dragons’ (aeroplanes) fly overhead. One day she finds that she must say goodbye to her beloved Abuela and her treasured island and travel with her family to a new home far away. As she walks into the unknown and to new adventures, she needs all the courage she can muster to come face to face with, and ride inside the dragon herself.

 This is a story of leaving the place you call home, facing your fears and embarking on new adventures.

Books about transformation and making things new

Christina Dendy & Katie Rewse
Picturebook

A wonderful picturebook about the desire for control and tidiness, and the wonders that can occur when we accept a little mess and freedom into our lives.

Ana builds a beautiful garden on the edge of her town but is determined to keep the disorderly wild out, so she builds a boundary wall to separate the two. She wants her garden to be perfect, full of only the sweetest-smelling flowers, leafiest trees and tastiest fruit and vegetables. Any seeds that are not absolutely perfect get thrown away into the wild. The plants begins to wilt and both people and animals stop bothering to visit. Until eventually, Ana sees some sunlight beaming from over her wall and decides to climb and see what is on the other side. As soon as she sees the beauty and unrestrained nature of the Wild, helped along by all her imperfect seeds, she decides that maybe it is time to start removing some bricks from her wall.

 

Richard O'Neill
 & Cindy Kang
Picturebook
A Traveller girl with a passion for design and technology collects cans for her local recycling plant and uses the metal to renovate an elderly neighbour's caravan. When Janie’s neighbour Mrs Tolen goes into hospital with a broken hip, it looks as though she will have to move out of her old caravan and into a house. Janie is desperate to help, but all seems lost until her school visits a local recycling plant. All it takes from there is imagination, a supportive community, and lots and lots of hard work to transform Mrs Tolen’s old caravan into a safe and secure new home! The latest picture book by renowned Romani storyteller Richard O’Neill celebrates the traditional Traveller virtues of resilience, adaptability, loyalty and independence.
Tom Percival
Picturebook

A moving, powerful story that shines a light on those that feel invisible in our world. Isabel and her loving family are forced to leave their home due to poverty. Feeling alone and invisible to the world, Isabel begins to notice the many other people living in similar circumstances – in fact, there are other ‘invisible’ people everywhere. Isabel is stirred to action and decides to make a difference to her new community in the little ways she can. By gradually improving small things that cost nothing, she starts a community movement and, before long, colour floods into her life and the lives of others once again.

​This story links to whole school values of tolerance, kindness and caring and can be used for developing a sense of belonging and community. It shows how anyone can make a positive impact on those around them, regardless of how little they have.​

Nicola Davies
 & Hannah Peck
Picturebook
See how a little girl recovering from poor health finds wonder in nature and delights in planting a garden with her father to attract a fascinating array of butterflies. Exploring the life stages of butterflies, their importance to our ecosystems and the revitalising power of nature, this book is a heart-warming information story for children who love the outdoors and all its incredible creatures. The stories carries a beautiful message about life cycles and the power of new beginnings.  
Isabel Otter & Katie Rewse
Picturebook
A father and daughter navigate their changed lives together after the loss of a mother. Dad tells Maya all about how Mum used to love spending time in the garden, and the pair find new comfort together in reviving the outdoor space together by clearing weeds, planting seeds and enjoying new growth.

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