Children's Literature Bookshelf

“I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah Bobo. Harper Collins Publishers, 2018, 32 pages, K-2.

“I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah Bobo.  
Harper Collins Publishers, 2018, 32 pages, K-2.

Self-acceptance is one of the hardest lessons many people have in life. Why is it that we can often see the virtues in others but have such great difficulty seeing our own admirable qualities? Young children have a particularly difficult time with this process. The other children seem to be more talented, better looking or athletically superior. This can lead to a negative self-image that is hard to overcome.

Grace Byers has written a book addressing these issues. This book was primarily written for girls; all the characters in the story are female. In the pictures, we see young girls playing games, dancing, reading and running in races. Grace Byers shows readers that the girls’ attempts are the true reward for their efforts. It is a lovely story written in a rhyming verse. Byers entitles this fine story, “I Am Enough.”

The book opens with a little girl looking up at the sun and realizing that “like the sun, I’m here to shine.” This upbeat beginning is soon followed by three girls practicing as a singing trio. They are dressed in the mothers’ clothes and are just belting out the music and having fun. This leads to a lovely dream of one child flying through the air accompanied by sea gulls. Her face is blissful as she feels the air blowing through her hair while she soars skyward.

This is followed by the girls dreaming of growing taller. Will they ever be as tall as the trees? Soon these dreams lead the youngsters to laughter and playfully standing on their hands. These physically challenging tasks of strength are not done at the expense of personal development.

The girls learn that life is really about caring for each other during difficult events. Some of these situations will cause the girls to develop the virtues of fortitude and courage. They have to pull a cart through a storm and pouring rain.

But a pleasant dreamtime comes after these events and readers see one girl reading while lying on the floor, enthralled by a story in a book. She wants to learn. All of the activities of the children help them learn from their mistakes and accept their victories. However, success is seen as developing confidence and never entails gloating. The entire point of the story is to help the children realize that they have intrinsic worth.

This all culminates in a race in which one girl falls down before the finish line. But she is not alone as the other children come to her assistance and accept her even when she has struggled. All of the day’s events teach the girls important things about life. What are they?

What do the girls learn? Why is it okay to be yourself and not someone else? How do failures teach the children important life lessons? By the end of the book, why do the girls know that they are valuable? To find out the answers to these and other questions, go to the library and check out “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers. 

This book is obviously written about the physical and emotional development of young girls. That is not to say that boys couldn’t also learn many valuable lessons from the text. The pictures portray girls of all races and creeds and some children with physical handicaps.

The pictures are very inspiring and will make your heart joyful. This would be an excellent book to read with younger children in your family. I encourage you to take the opportunity to share this wholesome book that helps teach children that their God given gifts are precious and unique. Enjoy!

Terrence Nollen

 

 

 

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