I Believe I Can

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
I Believe I Can Book Poster Image
Poetic picture book encourages self-esteem and optimism.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Words about setbacks are accompanied by uplifting images. Words about mistakes are accompanied by images of children trying to do better or amend bad behavior. This book can help children learn language arts, including rhyme, rhythm, and poetry.

Positive Messages

Believe in yourself, your worth, your potential. When you fail, dust yourself off and try again. Know that you are powerful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Boys and girls of many races, ethnicities, and sizes are shown alone and interacting harmoniously. They participate in a wide range of activities, including those that run counter to gender stereotypes: A boy takes pleasure from cooking by himself. A girl is shown as the star athlete while playing soccer with two boys.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Believe I Can is a picture book written by Grace Byers and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo. It is a follow-up to their New York Times bestseller I Am Enough. It features boys and girls of many races, ethnicities, and sizes enjoying activities by themselves and interacting harmoniously with other children. The children participate in a wide range of activities, including those that run counter to gender stereotypes: A boy takes pleasure from cooking by himself. A girl is shown as the star athlete while playing soccer with two boys. Words about setbacks are accompanied by uplifting images. Words about mistakes are accompanied by images of children trying to do better or amend bad behavior. This book can help children learn language arts, including rhyme, rhythm, and poetry.

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What's the story?

I BELIEVE I CAN is a rhyming poem rather than a story. It begins with a series of positive, affirmative "I can ... " statements and similies, such as "I can stretch, just like the Alps." About midway, it reminds readers to remember, "I am brave," then shifts to some negatives: "setbacks," "mistakes," and "defeat" a child might experience, followed by encouragement to get up, dust off, and try to make things better. The ultimate message is that each of us has light and power within.

Is it any good?

Children of all types can see themselves in this encouraging book. Grace Byers' I Am Enough is a rhyming poem that's entertaining and easily understood by a young child. Readers are encouraged to recognize that they are powerful, take risks to try things they may enjoy, and understand that defeat is often temporary. The illustrations by Keturah A. Bobo are notable for the expressive faces and body language, soothing pastel colors, and soft lines. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to believe in yourself, and how that's shown in I Believe I Can. What are some things you are really good at? What are some things you'd like to get better at?

  • What is something new you'd like to try, even though it seems hard?

  • What is a time you did something that was wrong? What did you do to make things better?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and books that boost self-esteem

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