Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? This book empowers children to have a positive attitude and continue working despite struggles, and is probably the most diverse children’s book I’ve ever seen. Through the text and illustrations, various children model pushing through challenges with a positive mindset. Sometimes they can do it alone, and sometimes they use support from others (adults or children) around them. Many examples are shown throughout the book of real life role models who have faced many personal challenges for their success, including known names like Barack Obama and Malala Yousafzai as well as less well known figures like Sharice Davids and Jillian Mercado. Short biographies of the people highlighted in the book are included at the end for readers to reference. The diversity of the heroes is incredible, including not only a wide variety of ages, genders, races, and nationalities, but also facing challenges including poverty, incarcerated family members, living in an internment camp, muscular dystrophy, Downs Syndrome, undocumented status, childhood violence and abuse, and homelessness. However, all of their stories focus more on their successes than struggles. An Author’s Note explains how she started the Push Through Organization as a classroom teacher and how it has impacted her students and improved their emotional resilience. The illustrations are bright and set a positive tone to match the text. And the children characters shown in the illustrations match and celebrate the diversity we live in, including children with dreadlocks, wearing hijabs, using wheelchairs and white canes, children wearing different styles of clothes, and a person with vitiligo. This book will likely bring up many questions for children and adults to explore and learn together!
Anything you did not like about the book. There are some criticisms that an overly-positive attitude focusing more on changing students’ mindsets overlooks legitimate societal challenges they may face. I don’t think this book promotes that false narrative, but I would encourage adults to consider that balance when using this book.
To whom would you recommend this book? This is an ideal book for educators and counselors to read with children to discuss and work on growth mindset, positive attitudes, and emotional resilience. The author used it as a daily mantra in her classroom, and it could easily be incorporated by other educators in the same way.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians, teachers, counselors
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts
Date of review: August 18, 2020