#SurvivalStories2021 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Genre Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

Inspirational and Joyful Messages For Young Readers

You Are Enough - and Believe That You Can!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

While I generally avoid narratives written by celebrity authors with seemingly-heavy-handed messages, there is something about these two picturebooks whose earnestness won me over. Add the fact that they are a perfect fit for our joymakers and peacebuilders theme.

I Am Enough [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Grace Byers Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
Published by Harper Collins (2018)
ISBN: 0062985809 (ISBN13: 9780062985804) Literary Award: Goodreads Choice Award for Picture Books (2018). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

While this message seems trite to most people, I don’t think it has ever been linked so definitively to an image of a beautiful Black girl with the big wild hair and the steady gaze – and because of that, it takes on a different nuance, a certain kind of strength.

While I am not a fan of the rhyming text and the constant use of simile, it seems to still work in this narrative – especially with the use of familiar phrases and repetition that can be comforting to young readers.

I also appreciated the white spaces that are easy on the eyes – and I like the image above of the studious young girl, determined to learn all she can through books.

Scholars may rightfully claim that the appearance of diversity in the pages of the book can be considered ‘tokenistic’ – yet the overall message is consistent throughout with the uplifting tone of acceptance and inclusion. The book also took on a different complexity when I discovered that the author Grace Byers is a child of deaf adults (CODA) and was subsequently bullied as a child – hence, her intention to create these books that are brimming with positivity and encouragement. I found myself unusually moved by the dedication when she noted “and for You, the beautiful soul reading: may you never forget how enough your enough truly is.” AMEN.

I Believe I Can [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Grace Byers Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
Published by Balzer + Bray (2020)
ISBN: 0062667130 (ISBN13: 9780062667137). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Whereas the first book has to do with one’s identity and purpose in life, the second book focuses more on self-efficacy – the things that the young reader is able to do and more.

The narrative uses a similar formula: simile and rhyming text. It also demonstrates that things may not always work out for the young reader, but the mistakes and setbacks are opportunities for learning and growth.

I like the sense of movement in the pages – the hands that are always busy, the bodies that are poised with purpose and determination.

The message of empowerment is clear and loud in these pages. I don’t know about you, but the jaded and cynical reader in me feels that young readers need these inspiring stories more than ever. You are Enough. Believe that you can.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 9-10 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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