A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows rhythms of a school day. Suggests personal goals that can lead to successful outcomes. Models positive interactions with classmates, teacher, crossing guard, and with kids on playground, on the court, in the pool. One of the last pages offers 11 promises kids might make, including "to go to school, to do all my homework, to always try my best, to make good choices for myself, to have fun."
Every two-page spread includes positive messages within the promises, such as: "I promise to be open and try new things / and enjoy the happy that change can bring." Other messages include: stand up for what's right; when things get tough, keep up the fight; ask for help whenever you need it; use kindness when you speak; read as much as you can; respect your elders; never give up; strive for greatness. Positive messages at back of book in note from LeBron James: "Setting goals, working hard and holding yourself accountable are the first steps to success." He also says, "Remember: Nothing is given. Everything is earned."
Positive Role Models
Many races, skin colors, and hair types represented in the happy cast of kids. The female crossing guard wears a head scarf.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that basketball great LeBron James' I Promise, illustrated by Nina Mata, is an exuberant picture book that shows diverse kids at school, committed to doing their best and having a good time together. Many of the rhyming positive statements on each page reflect a sports-minded perspective. The book starts with, "I promise to go to school / and read as much as I can, / to follow the rules / and respect the game plan." It ends with a promise "to be me," making it also a book that celebrates each kid's uniqueness and advocates being true to yourself. The audiobook version is read by LeBron's mother, Gloria James.
Is It Any Good?
This enthusiastic list of promises encourages kids to strive to do well in school, play nicely, aim high, and be kind. The diverse kids on each spread of I Promise look like they're having a great time, trying their hardest, being respectful, responsible, inclusive, and curious. It's easy to get swept up in their positive energy, and Nina Matta's engaging, emotive illustrations help make the kids appealing and relatable. The many promises drive home the point that if you can commit to a goal, it can lead to success in school, sports, relationships, and life.
Some of LeBron James' rhymes are more approximate than precise, such as this one: "I promise to ask questions and find answers / to believe in next time and second chances." But that's a small quibble in the overall fun, kid-friendly reading experience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.