Best in Me, by Natalie McDonald-Perkins
My review: ★★★★★
I’ll come straight out and admit, before I read this book I thought it was going to be yet another wholesome “you-can-do-it” message. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the most effective way to reach a child. Boy was I wrong – this book is fantastic!
This is the story of a grade-school class going through an exercise where each child shares a poem about what makes them special. One by one, each student stands up and tells the class about themself. This is accompanied by the child’s feelings of nervousness, as well as the high-fives and other supportive messages they give each other afterward. It features a diverse group of children, with a variety of issues they’ve been picked on about, and their affirmations that these details don’t define them or their value. I love it!
This book was written by an elementary-school teacher, and it shows. It would be excellent for using in class as the introduction to a class exercise doing the exact same thing. It would also be an aid to parents and family for talking with children who are feeling excluded or bullied. Hearing the children in the book open up about their inner concerns would help any child do the same. It is also good for reminding any child to step up in defense of bullied children. I would recommend this book for any child or classroom, kindergarten through grade 5 (ages 5-11) – though a bit better for the later grades who’d be better equipped to write their own poems or essays about their own differences.