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Representation Matters

Halfway through the school year, I conferred with a reader who had reached a hurdle in his reading life. During independent reading time, I noticed that engagement was drifting away. His eyes were wandering, his head was down, or a conversation unrelated to reading had been sparked. After a few days of observations and redirection, I asked, “How can I help you get lost in a book that you love?” The reader was unsure. We made a list of books that he had fallen in love with throughout the first half of fourth grade. It was in that moment his honesty bubbled up in the form of a request for more books with Black characters.

Fast forward through the books I was able to get into his hands throughout the second half of the year. On a summer stroll in July, I pressed play on an episode of The Children’s Book Podcast. Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James excitedly shared about their latest collaborative project that aims to help young Black boys feel seen and celebrated. I came home from my walk and marked my calendar for the September 1st release. It is now one of the newest picture books in my collection. What a beauty!

Recently, the beloved reader described above reached out to share how he spent his summer months. Within the email, there were special family memories, a rave review of a seafood lunch, and mention of a book he was reading. I took my reply as an opportunity to share about Derrick Barnes’s new release: “Speaking of books, I recently bought one called I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes. It is a picture book that I know you’d love! Here is a video from the author.”

Meet Derrick Barnes

His simple reply made me smile. . .

Hi Ms.Quimby. Thank you for linking the author’s words about “I Am Every Good Thing” I will ask if I can get that book. 

Here’s to hoping I Am Every Good Thing ends up on his bookshelf. I cannot wait to share this book’s incredibly important message with countless readers in the years ahead.

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