You Can Be (Elise Gravel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is You Can Be by Elise Gravel, a board book of feelings that encourages little ones to always be themselves.

There are lots of ways to be a kid: you could be happy, or thoughtful, or quiet. Boys can be artsy or sensitive or caring and so can girls; girls can be strong or stinky or leaders, and so can boys. The most important things are to never be mean or rude, and to ALWAYS be yourself – it’s the very best way to be.

Lovely. On the surface, this short board book is a visual look at different emotions or personality attributes, illustrating each in Gravel’s boldly-lined and energetic cartoon style. But the subtler (and much appreciated) message for baby bookworms is that it is okay to feel emotions, have interests, and express aspects of your personality, no matter one’s gender, skin color, or even just what others say. The art cleverly shows girls and boys as examples of aspects that they may not be readily associated with (such as a “sensitive” boy crying over a good book, or girl getting “dirty”, playing with trucks in the soil), and undercutting stereotypes such as “girls can’t be funny” or “boys can’t be caretakers”. And more broadly, it sends the message that it’s okay to feel things, even grumpy or angry or shy – your feelings are a part of you, and never wrong. It’s a great way of combining education with encouragement for the youngest reader, and we loved it. The length is great, and JJ and I had a ball with the adorable art – definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

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