Kate Jane Neal is an author who uses illustrations and storytelling in her picture books to work powerfully together to discuss emotional issues. She wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, Words and Your Heart, in response to observing verbal bullying within schools. Here she describes one encounter in the classroom that was a profound experience for her:
“What word would you like to get rid of?”
The first hand shot up. A head of the most beautiful auburn hair, bright blue kind eyes, little round face.
“Fat” she said.
She was seven years old.
A sea of hands.
As they offered each word, I fought to overcome the prick of tears behind my eyes…
This was the beginning of the content for The Culture of the Heart, a primary school resource created by Kate that supports children’s friendships. It provides practical and engaging classroom resources that help children understand their own emotions, accept their own value and worth, and the value and worth of their peers. It encourages an understanding of community and uses collaboration and creativity to help build a positive classroom culture. It has had an overwhelmingly positive response.
“I feel like I’ve gotten nicer. So have my friends. I appreciate that lots! THANK YOU!!” Amelia, Age 10.
“We noticed a marked difference in the children. It gave our children a much wider emotional vocabulary. It particularly helped our children improve their self-esteem and self-awareness. A beautiful resource that helped our children and staff become kinder to each other and to themselves.” Emma Lawton, Deputy Head Teacher.
And, as Kate says, our current situation makes the evidence-based content even more timely.
With her skill in bringing home both poignant and inspirational messages to everyone, however young or old they may be, Kate’s latest book WONDERFUL YOU! will be published by Feiwel & Friends in the US in April 2021 and by the author in the UK.