GUEST WRITER ANGIE GRAHAM DEBERTIN RECOMMENDS I AM EVERY GOOD THING BY DERRICK BARNES
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James is a beautifully written picture book that celebrates the worth of every child. Vibrant illustrations capture the reader’s attention, and the lyrical text resonates with self-affirming “I messages.”
As with most picture books, this book has endless opportunities for classroom use at all grade levels. The easy-to-read text makes it accessible as an independent reading choice. This book can be used to open discussions around value, importance, empowerment, and resilience. My students naturally went to those discussions after I shared it in my classroom. If you are looking for a mentor text to introduce spoken word poetry, this book is a natural fit. “I am one eye open, one eye closed, peeking through a microscope, gazing through a telescope, checking out the spaces around me and plotting out those far-off places I have yet to go -but will.” Writing opportunities could include students writing their own “I message” in the style of the book.
This book needs a place in every classroom library. It will be a book that students go back to again and again, each time digging a little deeper to find new meaning. It will meet students where they are and nudge them to deepen their thinking. “I am a sponge, soaking up information, knowledge, and wisdom. I want it all, and I am allllll ears.” Our students need to know that they are “every good thing” and to look for that in everyone. Happy reading!
Angie Graham Debertin is a Grade 2 teacher at Centreville Community School. She has spent her career questioning and learning alongside her students and instilling a belief that anything is possible. Her passions include inspiring lifelong readers and writers, encouraging a love of science, using meaningful technology, and lifelong learning.