As I got ready to read this book to a group of 1st graders I was visiting, I knew they would enjoy the book. No doubt. But I must say, my favorite part is always hearing the children’s words and reactions to a book. I often wonder, What would they say?, Would they love this book as much as I do?, What would they take away from it? I couldn’t wait to find out their reactions because the truth is I love this book and I want it them to love it too. A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy is a celebration of all the wonderful things that it means to be a boy (it is applicable to everyone, really!). The author does a wonderful job making general statements like “be brave” applicable and specific to a child. For example, I love how he mentions in the story, “If you are not ready to be brave, ask for help.” Every child needs to hear this “permission to be and feel” because their world might be full of cliches and they barely understand what that even means for me. Another big lesson from the book was how the author mentioned that fear and brave are partners, “You can’t be brave without feeling afraid first”. This statement right here opened up the door for students to show and share their vulnerable moments.
“I used to afraid of riding my bike. So afraid I would fall hard. But I just practiced and practiced. My dad always came with me too. So that helped!”
“I’m still afraid of the dark. But my mom bought one of those lights for the hallways. And that helps.”
Every child could relate to a moment of feeling afraid. And nothing is truly more humbling than watching 1st graders be vulnerable with each other on their fears.
The day I came to read this book to this first grade class, they happened to welcome a new girl to their community of learners. She started school that week. I loved hearing students’ reaction to the sentence in the book that says, “Be Thoughtful: eat lunch with the new kid” So many hands go up at that moment to share that they have done that since there is a new girl in the class.
This book is full of beautiful lessons, celebrations of identities that break stereotypes and instead embrace the many ways we can be and show in this world. A wonderful addition to any classroom library!