Introducing global citizenship in early-years with a really good read

International transitions impact every family member, including the very youngest. Fiona Murchie talks to author and early-years expert Carmen Powell to find out how reading can help.

In this uplifting webinar, part of Relocate Global’s Great International Education and School’s Fair, Relocate Global’s Managing Editor, Fiona Murchie, catches up with early-years specialist and award-winning author, Carmen Powell.  Recommending books for children growing up in cross-cultural environments and those making international transitions, Carmen Powell describes how enjoying stories and pictures together can help nursery and young primary-age children understand their frustrations and boost their language and communication skills, including for children where English is an additional language. 

The benefits of reading with young children 

Sharing a good book with their parents or carer is a sacred time for young children, especially during international transitions.As well as the pure enjoyment of a great story and engaging illustrations, the act of reading and listening to a story is a safe space for children to express their emotions and understanding of the world around them.  “Children are so little and trying to make sense of all the changes that are happening in their lives,” says Carmen Powell. “They may not have the proper language and the sophisticated thinking that we as adults have to be able to express their emotions.“Choosing the right books can help bring out those anxieties and uncertainties in children,” Carmen Powell continues. “It opens up that forum for them to talk while they are relating to the characters.”
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Engaging characters and adventure stories

Recognising how reading is an important moment of shared learning between the adult reader and young children – and therefore a journey of joint exploration – nursery educationalist and award-winning teacher Carmen Powell was inspired to write.Working with children in her nursery classes at ACS Cobham and International School of London, Woking, where she was head of pre-school, the children’s experiences and the natural environment close to the schools triggered the author’s three illustrated tales.  Today, Carmen Powell is the author of three delightful picture books – Matthew and the Magic Goat, Sprite and the Two Talking Turtles and Sprite’s Christmas Flight, published on 30 November. 

Talking about big issues in a simple way

Talking to Relocate Global as the COP26 meeting was taking place, Carmen Powell says that the outdoor environment and the concept of Forest School she values also helped to inspire and shape her stories.“My stories are a really nice way for educators to start a topic about caring for the environment,” says Carmen Powell. “Lots of schools are doing this.”Her picture books, whose central character, Matthew, also happens to have a prosthetic leg, provide a rich context for shared learning experiences. Importantly, they also address other big themes like inclusion and diversity in a positive and accessible way.“Lots of children’s books about children with disabilities,” explains Carmen Powell. “But generally, they are not adventure stories and don’t engage children to look at or read those books. I wanted my first book to be an adventure story and show that children with disabilities can have adventures like anybody else.  “Often children don’t notice the prosthetic leg until this picture. It’s such a wonderful thing because then we can discuss and have that conversation.” 

Embracing global citizenship in early-years education

With developing global citizenship high on the international education agenda, these stories and the character of Matthew and his adventures with his animal friends are already a hit with young children, parents and teachers.  “I’ve had some lovely feedback,” says Carmen Powell, who is frequent guest at schools to introduce Matthew, Sprite and their fellow characters. “I really enjoyed visiting schools and reading the book and listening to the responses.”For more information on how to order Carmen Powell’s books individually, or as bulk orders for schools – including the upcoming title, Sprite’s Christmas Flight – please visit the publisher’s website.

Carmen Powell is also joining Melodi Jordan, Head of Lower School, TASIS The American School in England for the webinar Outstanding early-years education for international families in the Relocate Global Great Education and International Schools’ Fair

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