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What do you see? Visit the city with me [Exploring the city with family, friends and neighbors]

Simple rhyming & counting story showing baby, family, friends and neighbors in the city. Prompts "what do you see?" and more talk ideas.

Photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald

Written by

One baby snuggled as close as can be. What do you see?
[Imagery: Baby on mum's chest]

Two mums catch the bus to the library. What do you see?
[Imagery: Children on mum's laps looking out the window, on way to Free Library]

Three dads meet at the park. Wheee! What do you see?
[Imagery: Wooden slide at Smith Memorial Playground or another park in Philadelphia]

Four grandparents share afternoon tea. What do you see?
[Imagery: Typical family kitchen, kids helping prepare it and making a mess]

Five little ones splash. Don’t wet me! What do you see?
[Imagery: Children splashing in Love Park]

Six aunties come to visit my family. What do you see?
[Imagery: Family celebration with typical elements for audience, eg celebration foods, cake, decorations]

Seven families have lunch under a tree. What do you see?
[Imagery: Tree in park like Dickinson Park, Pennsport, multicultural feast] 

Eight friends play in a cardboard cubby. What do you see?
[Imagery: Kids playing in cardboard cubby shaped like a Philadelphia iconic building eg Buerger Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia]

Nine neighbours make music at a street party. What do you see?
[Imagery: Set in neighbourhood streetscape, kids playing musical instruments]

Ten of us as happy as can be!
[Imagery: From view point like Penn Treaty Park, showing cityscape, families doing active outdoors things, maybe walking dog]

[Last page - stylised map of Philly with drawn images from story shown in place - not sure if this is needed or not]

[Inside the back cover, a section for the adult reader to encourage talking with their child]

More to do in the city

More ideas for how you and your little one can discover the city together.

What do you hear? Talk about the sounds of your city - Birds chirping, Breeze in a tree, Kids playing, Trucks rumbling, Elevators that go bing, Train whistles. What more can you find?

Listen to the different sounds of rain – heavy drops,  light drops on your window, drops that hit the pavement, drops that fall from a tree, the splash as a car drives through a puddle.

What can you smell? Talk about the different smells in your city - Cooking and baking smells and spices, Fish and chip and takeaway shops, Fresh flowers, Cut grass, Coffee shops, Salty smell of the beach, Animals at the zoo, Rubbish bins that need emptying! What more can you find?

How many can you see? Cities are full of things to count… Try these - Cars by colour, Number of people walking past, The time from when you see lightning to hearing the rumble of thunder, Donuts in a shop window, Blocks or stops to get home, Steps to your front door, Swings at the park.

How does it work? Stop and look at how things work through young eyes, talk about how and why - A window cleaner, Cranes being put up and dismantled and carrying a load, Traffic lights, New footpaths and road surfaces, Washing your clothes, Mail that goes into a postbox and ends up somewhere else. So much more to discover in your city!

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

Using a simple rhyming and counting format to show different relationships in the city and different scales of city experience, combined with gentle, playful imagery that is relatable and fun. The book is set in Philadelphia, but images could be any city. It is easy to read everyday with something new to talk about. Children learn the pattern and question "what do you see?". Includes city discovery prompts for adult at back of book - taking the learning and talking into the city with them.

Share your suggested book title

What do you see? Visit the city with me

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

See above

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

The book uses simple rhyme, counting to 10, and tier 1 words. The "what do you see?" prompts on each page provide repetition that children learn and talking points, looking for interesting things in the images (what you see and talk about becomes more complex with age and comprehension). A range of different family relationships and activities are shown, giving most readers a point of connection with the story (ie something in it could be about them and their relationship with the child or an activity that they do together). The counting 1-10 format gives structure to the story, easily defining where it begins and ends. The city discovery talking points draw on the senses and how things work to give caregivers ideas for new things to talk about when they are out and about in the city. This draws on ideas from city literacy programs like Talking is Teaching.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I haven't been to Philadelphia, but my job involves understanding cities (and people) from desktop research. I've looked at the resources and personas, searched for locations in the city and looked at some photos. Happy to have more context provided by those on the ground!

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

This book shows both relationships and the physical environment in the city from the smallest scale (baby on mum's chest) to neighbors on the street, and then from a further perspective of the city, with city imagery in the backgrounds. This approach makes it relatable at different scales / experiences / relationships. A different image of a child "looking" for "what do you see?" helps bring it back to their perspective (eg binoculars). The city discovery ideas are intended to give some prompts to caregivers for further talking points in the city - the little things that children notice, create memories, and that are so important for all of us in feeling connected to places / our cities.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

I work in urban strategy - we sometimes call ourselves "urban optimists". We use human-centred design strategies to understand people and provide advice on how to optimise the development of parts of our cities. My job is also creative - I have designed a few board games to help professionals understand people and places; and a role-playing computer game to teach students about urban renewal options and outcomes in a place. I have a particular interest in using different formats to educate about the built environment and create opportunities to play, learn and inspire in our cities. I'm also a mum of two very keen readers, so I have read, enjoyed and learnt from the best authors, illustrators and story tellers; and have helped learner-readers in the early years at my childrens' school.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Gentle watercolours that are playful and evoke emotion and energy. I am inspired by the illustrations of Bob Graham, Freya Blackwood, Helen Oxenbury, David Roberts, Anna Walker, Alison Lester, and Pamela Allen. They show all sorts of real people (all backgrounds, shapes, sizes, ages, interests) in ways that make you connect, empathise, and smile. These people are shown in the context of the city, with background buildings, parks, fountains etc (see example) - this is where the magic happens.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Reading through the ideas, I came across another storyteller Danielle who is also exploring the theme of exploring your city and community. Connecting you two Danielle Shylit  and Charlotte Fitzgerald  to provide a couple lines of feedback to one another’s manuscript submissions.
Happy connecting!

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