Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls

Values: Hope, Courage, Determination.

I have had this book a few months now, and couldn’t believe it when I realised the other day that I hadn’t written a blog on it! It is the perfect book for the dark days of lockdown when the seemingly-endless days in our home go round in circles. I am an adult and find so much hope and joy in this book; I know thousands of children have found the same. I believe this is one of those rare gems of a book that will speak to everyone. In fact, it was even released as a free e-book during the first Covid lockdown and I know lots of families and schools used it as light in difficult times.

The book isn’t a story so much as a poetic tale of a little girl and a fox. David Litchfield’s exquisite illustrations are perfect for the phrases that sing of hope and courage. Two of my favourite double-spreads read:

“Thunder will rumble, and lightning will flash.

The wind will start blowing, and tall waves will crash.”

“But… there are footsteps to follow. And words that are wise.

A map that will guide us when troubles arise.”

The constant contrast of dark and light, sadness and happiness, confusion and joy are so intertwined through the words and the illustrations that you see this book and its powerful messages differently every time you read it. I can imagine so many children finding such comfort in rereading a book like this many times over.

The most obvious Value that springs to mind is hope. It resonates throughout the book and even the title, Rain Before Rainbows, reminds us that there is always light after dark. The way that hope is depicted is both literal and metaphorical in this book and that is why it will appeal to so many ages. I can imagine using this book in a whole-school assembly and everyone from EYFS to the staff leaving feeling more positive and hopeful! An extra insight that I gained from Book Trust was that, “It’s also good to note that the scary things are mistily not quite in reach, and yet when the little girl finds comfort, it’s on the grounded earth of nature – a good lesson for us all.” I hadn’t thought of it like this, and really like the interpretation.

The second Value you could use with this book as a starting point is courage. The little girl faces many challenges on her journey – rain, thunder, mountains that need climbing, dragons to duel. She is brave and resilient in the face of these problems though, and always looks for solutions. Her friends help her out, she uses maps to guide her, and ropes to help her along… and she overcomes them all and is rewarded with sunshine and light.

The third Value I can recognise in this book is determination. Despite the ups and downs, the treacherous journey and the ‘scary’ times, the little girl and the fox keep going. They have each other and they face each new challenge with perseverance and resilience. It is a great story of determination, taken little steps at a time, and I’m sure children can think of times when they have needed to show determination. They could even create a journey of their own showing this Value.

I love the open-ended nature of this book and the richness of conversation that you can have with it. It could be a noisy class discussion or a book for a quiet corner. There are also lots of teaching resources out there and inspiration from schools who have used the book already. Perfect for any Values Bookshelf in a school, home, or a doctor’s surgery! I think it is one not to miss.

You can buy a copy of the book at independent booksellers through Bookshop.org whilst shops are still closed. And, at the moment, you can see this story being read by none other than Bridgerton's Regé-Jean Page reading the book aloud for CBeebies Bedtime Stories too!

Explore books with the same Values on this blog using the hashtags: