A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Social-emotional lessons about not judging others. Size bias and the "adultification" of Black kids (seeing Black children as bigger, older, and more mature than they are and having unfair expectations for behavior as a result) are shown in age-appropriate ways and are topics caregivers can discuss with young readers.
Love yourself for who you are. Have empathy and compassion for those who experience prejudice, and take action to help them.
Positive Role Models
The young girl speaks up to tell others how they made her feel and doesn't let them define her.
The main character is a young Black girl. The "too big" theme is common for kids who are perceived as being older than their age. The author notes that the story is based partially on her own childhood experiences as a "big" kid.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vashti Harrison's Big is a gorgeously illustrated picture book that powerfully conveys just how much of an impact other people's words can have on a child. When a young Black girl grows bigger than her classmates, the people around her make comments that make her feel self-conscious, then deeply sad. When she speaks up and takes up her own space in the world, not everyone is apologetic or helpful, and she has to decide how to navigate their responses. There's a great note about the author's own experience being labeled "big" and many ways for readers to talk about the impact of people being judgmental.
Is It Any Good?
The softly colored illustrations have a big impact in this compelling picture book, conveying the big feelings triggered by hurtful language, and the effect of helpful and healing words. Big has few words on each page, but the moody pastel palette reveals deep emotions: happiness, confusion, sadness, strength. There's a lot of social-emotional learning here, as readers see how deeply words and actions can impact a child, especially as she learns to take up her own space in the world. Readers see the difference between meaningful actions and empty gestures, as well as the value of speaking up. The sophisticated concepts of adultification and anti-fat bias are portrayed in age-appropriate ways. This lovely picture book provides adults with a means to discuss important topics with young readers.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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