When I give a graduation gift, I tend to not give books. However, this graduation season I have found three that I really like. Jason Reynolds’ For Every One for the teen to adult and for the younger children You Can!: Words of Wisdom from the Little Engine That Could based on Watty Piper’s Little Engine and for teachers Because I Had a Teacher by Yamada Kobi. It is these last two I will focus on as I’ve already reviewed For Every One.
You Can (by Charlie Hart and Jill Howarth as the author and illustrator) you see how the Little Engine reimaging can give you that little boost of confidence that you need. Perhaps, this also could be used for a sympathy gift, a trying time or for almost any special occasion for an adult. It is a book about what we Can Do told in a fun and simple manner, but is on point with a deeper meaning. But not done darkly. The illustrations by Howarth are perhaps more fun than the text. The words are pieces of advice that you can use to “get you going” and be on your way: take time for yourself, run on time, wake up for an adventure. But the drawings are bright and happy and something I would love to see on a baby’s wall in a nursery. They have their own story to tell while helping the text get to its destination. They remind one of the classical illustrations but are completely modern and their own.
What do you give your child’s teacher at the end of the year? What do you give to the person who has graduated and is off to become a teacher? You can give them Because I Had a Teacher by Kobi and Natalie Russell. We all tend to remember a favorite teacher or two. Each page gives little snippets how teachers have and can inspire. The illustrations are simple, almost sketches, and colorful. They move along with the story showing how the narrator knows how mistakes are good and helpful; how they know how to explore because of teachers and more. A child-like tone to the text can allow you to interpret it as a child telling the story or an adult looking back. The part that I enjoy the most is that the narrator never lands on one type of teacher, allowing the adult to see that learning is not always in the classroom, but we have teachers every place throughout our lives.