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I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët

Kerascoët is a husband and wife team who created this powerful wordless picture book about a topic that can often be hard to discuss with children: bullying. I Walk With Vanessa became a fast favorite in my kindergarten class as soon as we started reading it together. Each illustration is packed with detail. Children notice new elements each time they pick up this book; the opportunities for learning and conversations are endless!

I looked over during choice time to find Yanis and Marlee digging deeper into I Walk With Vanessa. When I walked over, they were discussing how “the boy who was mean” was feeling when the rest of the kids chose to walk with Vanessa. “They shouldn’t leave him out because he was mean one time.” “Yeah, if they are nice and let him walk with them too then he maybe will learn to be nice.”
A child documented the comparisons made during that day’s read aloud of I Walk With Vanessa.
Sorrow found on each page.

“She have so sorrow Miss Masse, like Puff!” “and Baron!” “Oh and I found an Elephant and Piggie book with sorrow!” “And Daisy too! Remember when her ball popped?” Conversation explodes as children make connection after connection to Vanessa’s feeling of sorrow.

Later that day, Vada was pouring over the end pages of I Walk With Vanessa while she waited to be dismissed. “Miss Masse, look at these end pages!” she looked up at me flipping the pages from back to front. I asked her what she noticed and she said “Well it’s gray to start and then it’s the rainbow at the end because gray is so sad when Vanessa is alone. But at the end it’s rainbow because everyone worked together to make sure everyone knew they were part of the school family and rainbows are happy!”

Wami studies the pages of two of her current favorite books. She spent time comparing the facial expressions of Vanessa and Puff . “Sorrow mean smile go down, Miss Masse. No feel sorrow when you have someone love you” She may be learning English, but she is making deep connections and incredible inferences as she digs even deeper into the book.

A book with no words and a powerful message. One small act can change big things for many people. Standing up for each other, standing by each other, standing with each other…in the time we live, there is no greater lesson we can teach than to walk with Vanessa.

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