I Am Every Good Thing

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
I Am Every Good Thing Book Poster Image
Dynamic art, poetry enhance vivid celebration of Black boys.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Subtle and powerful illustration links young narrator and readers to ancestors, including recognizable historical figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama, as well as unsung people who led their tribes in their original country, picked cotton, delivered mail. 

Positive Messages

You are deserving of respect, worthy of love, and loved. Dream big.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The illustrations offer positive images of African American boys engaged in a wide variety of activities, and their families and communities. The boys are depicted overcoming failures, enjoying successes, and giving and receiving emotional support.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Am Every Good Thing, written by Derrick Barnes (King of Kindergarten) and illustrated by Gordon C. James (the team that created Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut), introduces the reader to an invincible Black teen boy who confidently explores the world around him and who loves and is loved.

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What's the story?

Written as a poem in the first person, I AM EVERY GOOD THING is a series of affirmations covering a range of human experiences like facing setbacks, enjoying triumphs, and being part of a family and community.

Is it any good?

This is a joyful, fun book with serious undertones. Writer Derrick Barnes' and illustrator Gordon C. James' dedications in I Am Every Good Thing set the tone. Barnes dedicates the book to boys and young men who came be known to the world only because they were killed. James dedicates it to his son. The words and pictures show Black boys engaging in fun, stereotypically boyish activities like skateboarding and making paper airplanes, pursuing aspirations like studying science, and showing love to others, from helping an elder cross the street to offering a family member a shoulder to cry on. The illustrations are lush and dynamic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the people from real life mentioned or shown in I Am Every Good Thing. Can you name some of the people who are portrayed as ancestors near the end of the book?

  • The boys in I Am Every Good Thing enjoy sports, music, science, and more. What are your favorite activities? What are you good at?

  • Do you like the art in I Am Every Good Thing? What do you enjoy about it?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and stories of boys' adventures

Themes & Topics

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