By: Michael A. Brown
Illustrated by: Zoe Ranucci
Publisher: Mabma Enterprises, LLC
Publication Date: November 2019
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Debut author Michael A. Brown has written an uplifting children's book, full of positive messages that will empower children and teach them to better handle what life may throw their way.
The first page of What I Tell Myself FIRST asks the reader to write their name on the page (line provided) and then tells the reader, "I am alive, alert, and able. (Take a Deep Breath. Now exhale. Don't hold your breath, silly.)" and the mood is now set for a fun, very positive, self-esteem building book. Continuing with the interactive theme, the next two pages ask the reader to write down what they think "The truth is (what do you think the truth is?)," and "A lie is (what do you think a lie is?)." Each of these two pages has suggestions/examples to assist the reader with coming up with an answer. On the "lies" page suggestions include "I will never be pretty..." How often have parents heard that from their child?
The rest of the book teaches simple, positive messages that work toward teaching every child that "I Like Me!" The first message readers find is:
"I must love me FIRST.
I must be selfish before I am selfless.
I am no good to anyone else, if I am not good to myself.
I must do for myself, first. I must protect myself, first."
Unlike many books that give kids an unrealistic message that they are wonderful at everything, and that they can do anything, What I Tell Myself FIRST gives kids a real-world message that "I am great at some things. I am good at other things. I am not good at some things," but that's okay and the author tells his audience why. The book also tells readers such important things as thinking before talking, listen to others to understand, and how to speak with respect.
Each page has one (or on a few pages, two) topics of importance. The topic, such as "Work equals worth" is in a larger font, and the text is bold so that it stands out. Following that text is one or two lines of further explanation in a smaller, but still easy to read font. This allows young readers to quickly identify the topic. For example, one page shows four young friends playing basketball with the line "My body is what it is." Below that text is the explanation, "Skinny, Fat, or Short with a Hat. Tall, Small, Basketball!"
I wasn't sure what to expect when I received What I Tell Myself FIRST for review. I've read/reviewed a lot of books aimed at children with the goal of teaching them how to handle difficult situations such as bullying. Some of them just aren't realistic in their suggestions. What I liked so much about this book is that it tells kids that before they can solve other problems/issues, they must first love themselves. It also says that they may not be the best, prettiest, strongest, etc., but that that's okay. As long as "I am beautiful/handsome TO ME" it's okay. What a great message! I also really enjoyed the illustrations that are bright, playful and the children in every picture truly look engaged and as though they are having fun.
Quill says: What I Tell Myself FIRST is an excellent book that should be in every classroom and shared with young readers from preschoolers through elementary level readers. The positive, self-affirmations it teaches are priceless.
For more information on What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children's Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem, please visit the book's website at: www.WhatITellMyselfFIRST.com