Christian Robinson‘s You Matter is exactly the kind of picture book we need in these trying times. Children need to know that they matter regardless of how they may feel about themselves or how others may feel about them, regardless of their circumstances, and regardless of what may be going on around them. Through simple prose and meaningful illustrations, Robinson tells children just that: they matter.
The dedication at the beginning of this book highlights the theme and sets the tone: “For anyone who isn’t sure if they matter. You do.” From there, Robinson moves forward into a beautifully written narrative highlighting the importance of everyone and everything. From microscopic organisms, to mosquitos, to dinosaurs, astronauts, and children the almost lyrical words are accompanied by a mix of images that seek to remind us that everyone matters.
You Matter is just such an incredibly affirming read.
Several times Robinson’s words speak to those who may feel like they don’t matter (“when everyone thinks you’re a pest” and when “you feel lost and alone”) and each time he brings the message full circle by reminding them that they do. There are a ton of lines and images that will give parents plenty of chances to start a conversation with their little ones.
Robinson’s lovely words are accompanied by some fantastic artwork. Christian Robinson is an African American author and illustrator and a big part of what makes this book so special is the way he uses the illustrations to make sure readers know that they matter. There are people of varied ages, races, and genders featured and it really helps drive home the book’s message that you (the reader) matter.
The very first page in the book shows a young, African American girl looking through a microscope while one of the last has a Latinx girl playing with a toy plane. At another point in the book, an African American astronaut on the International Space Station and her son back at home are both featured on subsequent pages. A young girl in a headscarf and her friend in a wheelchair walk her dog (and briefly lose him!). At a time when children from diverse backgrounds remain sorely under represented in children’s books, You Matter sets a high standard that more books (and the publishers who can promote and empower own voices creators) should feel compelled to reach.
Because when you can see yourself represented it’s so much easier to understand and believe just how much you matter to the world.
I highly recommend You Matter and I hope that the message resonates with readers of all ages. We love to read this book at bedtime and it’s a great way to send your little ones to sleep with such a loving, beautiful message. It’s an awesome book with a great message and I hope that every child (and parent) who reads it walks away understanding they matter.