The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright

Values: Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage and Positivity.

This eye-catching and adorable tale of a koala who develops his growth mindset comes from Rachel Bright - author of popular picture books such as The Lion Inside (a personal assembly favourite of mine) and The Worrysaurus. The rhyme and playful vocabulary choices pair perfectly with Jim Field's bold and emotive illustrations, allowing children to empathise with the characters immediately.

In this story, Kevin the koala misses out on lots of fun things his friends are doing because he is too scared to stop clinging onto his tree. He is anxious of the frantic nature of life on the ground and even when his peers try to coax him down, we see Kevin use excuses to avoid getting down from the tree. Before reading the whole story, I would turn this into a circle time about worries and anxieties and being shy. The children might be able to talk about their own experiences, or they may well relate Kevin's story to other characters they have seen in books or films.

The tale moves on to show Kevin missing out on things he think look like fun down on the ground below... until one day a woodpecker is pecking at his tree and the tree comes down with Kevin clinging to it! Luckily his friends are there to support him. At the end of the story (as you may have guessed from the title), Kevin discovers that he doesn't need to cling to the tree any longer and that he feels free and happy when he has a faces his fears!

This is a really uplifting story and one that even the youngest children in school will be able to understand and relate to. All children enjoy books with personified animals and Kevin will win their hearts with his loveable nature. This is definitely a book that will fit in with many schools' agendas on mental health, anxieties and growth mindset.

The Values I would teach alongside this picture book are friendship, kindness, positivity and courage. Firstly, friendship as the other animals in the book are always encouraging poor Kevin to come down from the tree and join in. They don't tease him or give up on him, and they are so happy when he finally makes the (literal) leap! Kindness is a key Value here too, for similar reasons; the animals show relentless kindness towards Kevin even though he may be 'different' to them and be scared of things they don't understand. You see Kevin out on adventures with the other animals in the final few page spreads having been welcomed into the group.

Positivity is a Value I love to teach. What good might come of this situation that you are worried about? What might using the Value of positivity help you to achieve? Children can talk about times when they have faced new or scary situations with positivity and there are plenty of examples from within the classroom too. Here, Kevin makes the leap and then this gives him the confidence to face more situations with his friends.

Lastly, courage. Teaching children that courage is something adults and children have to show throughout their life can help them realise that everyone has worries and it takes bravery to face your fears. It may be big things - like heights - or little things - like putting your hand up in class to ask a question. Everybody shows courage in different ways. This can be a really nice circle time (or bedtime) discussion.

In essence, this book is fun, bright and playful but it also has real Values at the core of it. Rachel Bright is an expert in writing books for children where they can empathise with the characters (who are often animals) and relate their problems back to their own lives. I love collecting her books! You can buy a copy of The Koala Who Could on Amazon.

Follow Rachel on Twitter (@RBrightBooks) and the illustrator, Jim Field too (@_JimField). Use the hashtags to identify my reviews of books on this blog that also contain these Values: