Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope



Inspirational message perfect for inaugural celebration.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Love and support help Barack Obama deal with an absent father. Also highlights the importance of education in his life.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Nikki Grimes has based her inspirational book on Barack Obama's own memoir, simplifying its content and message for young readers. Both the author and the illustrator have previously won the Corretta Scott King award.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

This is Barack Obama's story. Based on his memoir, this book presents important events of his life, especially his childhood, while tracing the threads of hope and courage as they weave throughout, bringing him to the moment when he decides to run for president. Obama is presented as a child of mixed heritage, from a divorced though very supportive family, who struggles with his own identity and is consumed with an almost overwhelming desire to help the poor people of the world. Throughout the story, a fictional mother and son read along, and they discuss each event and feeling. The boy asks innocent questions, the mother answers and explains, and in the end the little boy shows how much he's inspired by the story.

Is it any good?


This is more than a biography. It's a song of courage, hope, and inspiration. Language that is both poetic and elegant presents the story while also creating a very heartfelt, moving tone that goes beyond the ordinary. Though some may argue that this is the somewhat glorified substance of a myth-in-the-making, young readers especially will come away with a genuine understanding of what makes Barack Obama such a unique and capable person, and will probably also be inspired.

The technique of using a narrator (the mother talking to her son) and Bryan Collier's stirring illustrations add another level of truth to the upbeat message of change and promise.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the new president's life. They can join the mother and son who, as part of the narrative, talk about the events in Barack Obama's life that gave him the hope and strength to run for, and become, president of the United States. Who is Barack Obama, and where did he come from? Who were his parents and grandparents? Why did he live in Kansas, Hawaii, and Indonesia when his father was from Kenya? How did being apart from his father make him feel? Though he was sad, he was still hopeful. What helped him feel that way? When he saw all the poor people in the world, he wanted to help them. How is he doing that? How did going to school help him? What gave him courage, and hope? How do you think he feels now that he is becoming president? How do you feel about it?

Book details

Author:Nikki Grimes
Illustrator:Bryan Collier
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:August 26, 2008
Number of pages:48
Publisher's recommended age(s):5 - 7
Read aloud:5
Read alone:8

This review of Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Boy struggles to fit into blended family.
  • Harlem is home in this jazzy award-winner.
  • Spectacular illustrations spotlight Parks' historic protest.

External sites

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bytsheldee January 23, 2009
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byCatharine44 January 22, 2009

Another Good Obama Title

I would also recommend "Change Has Come" by Kadir Nelson. Kadir Nelson's illustrations are always beautiful. In this one he used words from Obama's speeches as a starting point for his illustrations. It's a very simple book with sketches and a few phrases, but they feel very alive.
Adult Written bypuyeski April 26, 2009


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass