Hike by Pete Oswald

Values: Courage, Sustainability and Joy.

Hike is a (nearly) wordless book that is a triumph of illustration. It is on this year's Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist - an award for outstanding illustration - and rightly so. Every time I read it, I see more. Somehow Pete Oswald has created an outdoor space within the book that feels fresh, calm and tranquil. Maybe the lack of words has something to do with this too.

The book follows the story of a father and his child (not sure if they are a boy, girl or non-binary and I think that's a strength). The pair leave their home in the city and head into the wilderness for a day of hiking, exploring, studying nature and climbing. The relationship between them is palpable, which says something about the quality and detail of the illustration in a wordless book. At the end, they return home and snuggle down for cookies and milk. The final touches show a family album of four generations going on the same (or similar) hikes which is a lovely 'full-circle' end to the story.

The first Value I would study in this book is courage. There are a few times in the book when the child feels nervous and you can tell this through their body language and facial expressions. The father coaxes them on, shows them how to be brave, and holds a hand when needed. It is a great example of overcoming fears to achieve something and how others can inspire courage in their friends/family too. Books like this can be so powerful in opening up conversations around fears and overcoming barriers. A great book before residential trips I can imagine too!

Secondly, the Value of sustainability is wonderfully demonstrated. I like the way this Value is subtly shown and the whole book is not a sustainability 'guide' as we often see. The pair gently handle ladybirds, stick to the paths, replant trees and admire the wildlife all around them. It is a great exploration of how to treat nature and how to live in harmony with the plants, insects, animals and birds that we share the world with. A great book for Earth Day (or similar) or more general Circle Time / PSHCE / Geography discussions.

Thirdly, the Value of joy is tangible. The awe and wonder of seeing creatures through binoculars, throwing snowballs, finding a bear's paw prints, and sharing a drink sat atop a rock is evident. Splashing puddles, collecting conkers, building snowmen and making daisy chains are some of the activities my classes have always enjoyed doing, and building time into school life for such activities can't be underestimated. If only all schools and classes got Forest School! I love the way Pete Oswald has reminded us all of the happiness that a short drive from our homes can bring and I don't think there is ever a more timely reminder of this than following a year of lockdown when none of us have travelled far. The book almost transports you out into the wilderness just from flicking slowly through its pages.

The whole book is great for other skills such as inference and prediction. Children are forced to infer information when they have no words to help them! I love using this book for so many different reading and writing activities with children from Year 1 - Year 6. You can grab your copy from lots of independent booksellers! You can follow the author/illustrator on Twitter - @peteoswaldart too. Definitely a fun and timeless book for your Values Bookshelf!