Book Review: Standing Up to Racism Because You Matter

Book Review: Standing Up to Racism Because You Matter

"They say that matter is all things that make up the universe … energy, stars, space ...

if that's the case, then you, dear child, matter."

These are the powerful opening verses from the book All Because You Matter, written by Tami Charles and illustrated by Bryan Collier. The author shines the light of positive thinking in the minds of young readers who have been subjected to racial injustice, acts of discrimination or hatred, in any form. The book tells the story of a brown-skinned boy, even before he was born. While his parents await his arrival, the concept of “matter” is discussed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Charles draws the attention of the reader - children and parents alike - to take pride in their rich ancestral heritage and stand tall even in the face of injustice.  One can find ancestral references in the book, which alludes to the achievements of forefathers who belonged to similar ethnic backgrounds and culture and serve as a pride to their nations, even to date.

The verses, in conjunction with the illustrations by Collier, convey the message of affirmation in a deep and unique manner. The author has drawn comparisons between the universe and all that exists in its entirety to the realities of racism and injustice today. Examples that kids can relate too are found in a school setting from teachers and peers.

The style of writing makes All Because You Matter stand out amongst others in its league. The similes used in the text complement the colorful illustrations, and helps spark potent imagery in the reader's mind. It also aids the reader to gain a better understanding of their own identity and reserve some self-love by honoring the message "You mattered. They mattered. We matter ... and always will."  

Here is a link to the read-aloud version of the storybook.

Sparking Conversation

All Because You Matter can serve as a great conversation starter for children aged 4-8 years. Here are some suggestions on how to lead a conversation or follow up with some activities, post-reading;

  • Pay attention to your child's interest while reading the book. Follow up with questions like “has anyone ever treated you differently?” or “why do you think the children made fun of the boy’s name?”
  • Use the illustrations and text in the book to talk about the familial references in the book. 
  • Look closely at the “collage art.” What do those illustrations represent? You can also take it up a step further and ask if they can relate to it in any way.
  • Draw your child's attention to the poetic style of writing and assess how well they have comprehended. You may then ask them to write a poem of their own highlighting “why they matter.”

Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and writer who is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it onto others. She and her husband are parents to three boys and are currently living in Abu Dhabi.

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