Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review - Being Me

Being Me picture book about differences
Being Me is another great public library find. I am not sure which child decided that we needed to bring this little gem home, but I'm glad it ended up in our library pile. At first I thought it was just a cute book about various personality traits of this spunky little girl with poof ball hair, which it is, but it is more. This is a little girl that almost any child can relate to. She likes dressing up, painting, doing cartwheels, and eating chocolate chip cookies. She has to do chores. When she's not at school she spends time with her baby sister and her parents. She seems like the kind of girl you would want for a friend, and she is.

The difference is so subtle, that I almost didn't catch it the first time we read the book. Stated matter-of-factly among all of the other attributes, the little girl informs us that she can't hear. In fact, it seems almost like a benefit as the page where she proclaims this bit of news is one of those "so much noise you're head will split" kind of pictures. Oh, the picture itself is quiet, but what it depicts is a blaring siren, a barking dog, a wailing baby sister and a jet plane soaring overhead. The parents are clearly out of sorts with all of the noise around them (maybe especially the baby) but the little girl is just as happy as can be.

She goes on to explain that she talks with her hands - a concept my children are familiar with thanks to Signing Time. These two differences are tied up with a neat conclusion that we are all different, even though there are a lot of things we have in common, too. Differences are celebrated - I love you, you love me. That's it. Short, sweet, simple. Perfect.

This is exactly the sort of thing we've been talking about a lot at our house recently. Helping the child understand how she is different from her peers has been an on-going conversation. I know it is sticking because she keeps asking me questions about autism. Helping her understand that her differences are just a part of her and not something to be ashamed of is important to me. She is loved, and while the things that make us the same help us to get along and get things done, differences are important, too.

Some features that I have grown to love about this book are the illustrations, which pack a lot of meaning into the simple prose. To me the characters are all fairly ambiguous ethnically, which adds to the universal appeal of the children in the story. The text is simple enough that my four-year-olds have enjoyed reading the story again and again. Hopefully we can fit in a few more readings before we take it back to the library.


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