The United Nations’ (UN) World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year. So PEPELT’s theme for June 2020 is Tolerance and our picturebook of the month is The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros. Here is a great review by the BookTrust and the book trailer by the publisher Nosy Crow. You can find all our videos here. We also wrote a mini e-lesson which you can find here.

Peritextual features
Front cover: Presents characters. Note the way the blue/green character is on the left of the cover, blocked by the characters on the right. Will they let him into the book? Ask how does he feel? Where has he come from? Is the suitcase heavy?
Back cover : Characters asking questions. Read these out and ask children if they have any other questions they’d like to ask
Dedication: For everyone who has started a new life far way … can be shared with the children before or after reading the picturebook. After sharing, can use as an opportunity for discussion about immigration if appropriate.
Title page: Visually represents the beginning of the journey. The dark cloud denoting difficulty, stress, something negative, and the mountain is a hard, difficult climb. You could ask the children about this illustration and what it tells us about the creature and how he feels. 
NB: The mountain is continued on the next spread, it is behind the creature now and the sky is clear above him. Something you may want to talk about in later re-readings 
Epilogue illustration : Shows the old photo of the creature’s home in sepia and a new photo in colour of his new friends and home. This can be commented on by the children.

Teacher education
Looking at the impact a personal connection to a picturebooks can make 
Reflecting how student teachers can understand situations they might have not experienced.

Children talking about suitcases


Literacy:  differentiating dialogue/speech from narrative;
asking questions.
Emotional: developing empathy by understanding the feelings of someone who has had to leave their home;reading facial expressions and body language to identify emotions and feelings.
Visual:  recognising how colour is used to link the dialogue to each character, to convey mood and to represent the before and the after.
Civic:  reflecting on ways to be kind and to welcome someone new.

Notes from the classroom
Discussing travel – past and present
Packing a suitcase – vocabulary practice.
My suitcase – my identity. Imagine moving to a new place. What 10 objects would you pack in your suitcase?

History of suitcases 

Additional Suggestions

With June being our month of tolerance, many of our recommended picturebooks really support the UN’s world refugee day. Some of you might be regular readers of the CLELE Journal but if not, check the recommended reads in Volume 8, Issue 1, 2020. David Valente writes in the introduction “the recommended reads illuminate refugee experiences via four very different formats: a picturebook, a verse novel, a graphic novel and an information book.” The selected picturebook is the award-winning picturebook My Name is not Refugee written and illustrated by Kate Milner.

The review in the CLELE journal includes some lovely English language teaching tips for My Name is not Refugee but if you are looking for more, check this comprehensive (rather amazing) teaching kit: . No doubt, it will give you plenty of ideas for this book in your primary English class. We have added a free ‘look inside’ provided by the publisher Barrington Stoke, so have a look. Your PEPELT Team. 

“Imagine a world where everyone is kind. How can we make that come true? See the story of Kind read in 18 languages for #WorldRefugeeDay in support of refugee charity Three Peas.”  Scholastic UK. Kind was our picturebook of the month for October 2019. You can find all our videos here:

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