A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart

Book review by
Diondra K. Brown, Common Sense Media
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart Book Poster Image
Powerful poem reflects on Black Americans' emotional story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will see illustrations of multiple historic Black figures -- including Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson, and Louis Armstrong -- and moments from the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the book. These images can spark conversation about Black history. 

Positive Messages

It's important to loving yourself first and most of all, despite anything happening in the world. There's a central focus on positive things in life such as peace, compassion, and hope. 

Positive Role Models

There's an eclectic and inclusive range of characters in the book. People of different ages, colors, and religions come together throughout the story, sharing a common bond. 

Violence & Scariness

There's an illustration of a Black Lives Matter protest in which a police officer holds up a baton to the crowd as a threat, but no one is struck. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, by author, poet, and Coretta Scott King Award winner Zetta Elliott (Dragons in Bag) and illustrated by Noa Denmon, won a 2021 Caldecott Honor. Narrated by a young boy, it follows him as he skateboards through his neighborhood, talking about his feelings hidden "deep down inside of me" following a police shooting. It's a poetic unveiling of the various emotions and thoughts that many Black Americans experience. Activities of everyday life are depicted in contrast to the violence enacted against Black people in America, and the demand for justice that follows. Elliott's poem highlights the importance of self-love and not shying away from your emotions while hoping for a better future for the world.

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What's the story?

Written as a melodic poem, A PLACE INSIDE OF ME: A POEM TO HEAL THE HEART is an ode to the rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions that many Black Americans face in their everyday life. The main character, a young Black boy, takes readers on a journey through his neighborhood while riding a skateboard. Activities of daily life are contrasted with violence against Black lives, and the demand for justice that follows. The poem asserts that loving yourself and acknowledging your feelings are the ways to heal your heart and remain hopeful. 

Is it any good?

This poetic book has a serious message as it takes readers through a young boy's neighborhood and draws readers in with a sense of familiarity and warm tones. Zetta Elliott's words and Noa Denmon's illustrations in A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart break down emotional barriers and encourage love and vulnerability. The main character takes a personal journey, encourages readers to reflect on the impact of events of the past and present on their lives, and offers hope for the future. The story includes powerful images of historic Black figures such as Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson, and Louis Armstrong, and moments from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the feelings language used in A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart. When is the last time you felt joy, fear, love, anger, or pride? 

  • What do you know about the Black Lives Matter movement? What sparked it?

  • The boy in A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart says he remembers to love himself "most of all." What do you love most about yourself? 

  • Can you name some of the famous Black Americans illustrated in the book? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and books that deal with racism

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