It’s World Prematurity Day this Sunday and this year’s theme is #GiveAHug. Many of us take for granted that we can give our children a hug whenever we like, and hold our babies as soon as they are born. But for many parents it is not that simple. Around the world, 15 million babies a year are born prematurely, 60 000 of those in the UK. In many cases, their parents cannot give them a hug for days, or even weeks.
To support Bliss in their #GiveAHug campaign, we have decided to share one of our favourite picture books, Hug, by Jez Aldborough.
We read it together at bedtime while we were staying at Granny’s house. Once the children were settled on the sofa in their pyjamas with an assortment of dolls and teddies and a blanket, Owl decided he would like to read it to the others.
The story is simply told through eloquent pictures and very little text, which means you can’t just read the words, you have to talk about it. This leads to some lovely conversations and an insight into the children’s point of view.
A little chimp has lost his mummy, and everywhere he looks he sees other animals sharing hugs. An elephant takes pity on him, and tries to help him find his mummy. They look everywhere but can’t find her. He sits down and starts crying and the other animals look worried but they don’t know what to do. Suddenly his mummy comes and finds him, and they share a joyful hug. And then all the animals hug each other, and the little chimp hugs his friend, the elephant.
It’s a heartwarming story, and it is very good for discussing emotions with children. We look at the little chimp’s face in each scene and talk about what he is feeling.
On this occasion, as you can see in the photos above, when the children had finished reading the story, they all took turns to hug each other. Only a couple of photos were usable as most of them were rather blurry (or silly!) but it was lovely to watch and it made me feel very lucky.