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I Am Every Good Thing

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,114 ratings  ·  255 reviews
I am
a nonstop ball of energy.
Powerful and full of light.
I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He's got big plans, and no doubt he'll see them through--as he's creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other ti
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Average rating 4.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,114 ratings  ·  255 reviews

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WOW!!! By now, you know that I am someone always on the look out for books that speak to our young people and encourage them to find and know their worth. I definitely found it in I Am Every Good Thing !

The lyrical words of Derrick Barnes set to the vibrant illustrations by Gordon C. James left me speechless on my initial read. This book empowers young African American boys to know that they are so much more than what others often give them credit for. I Am Every Good Thing encourages ou
Jillian Heise
I'm crying reading the end of this gorgeous picture book from the team that brought us Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. Genuine and deep love for all that Black boys encompass shines through in this affirming story. I know just which boys in particular in my school are going to gravitate toward this book because they will feel so deeply seen by what's within its pages. Thank you for this gem, Derrick & Gordon! This book is EVERY good thing about picture books and the impact literature and represe ...more
David Schaafsma
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Each year my family reads all the Goodreads-award-nominated picture books. Every Good Thing, written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James, is book #10 (of 20) of 2020. Poems for boys, about self esteem.

Hank (14): 3.5 stars. I like the art but the writing was just okay.

Harry (15): 4.5 stars. Cooool! Cool art!! A fun-loving book that is inspiring..

Tara: 4 stars. I really like this one. More of a kids’ book than the others. And most of the little poems were good and upbeat. Good mes
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wasn’t ready for this book to end. Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James are my favorite author-illustrator duo. Our society desperately needs this book. I love how this team celebrates black boys and reminds them they are so much more than what society oftentimes tries to diminish them to be. They are every good thing.
Rod Brown
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Annual Goodreads Choice Awards reading project: Read all the Picture Book nominees! (3 of 15)

I am not a fan of picture books whose sole purpose is to be inspirational, and indeed I am not a fan of inspirational books in general. I prefer a story or humor over a string of statements and metaphors, no matter how sincere or well intentioned. Nice pictures though.
Abby Johnson
Yes, this book is everything I wanted it to be. From the multiple-award-winning creators of Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut, this is another gorgeous picture book that celebrates and affirms Black boy joy. This is a book to buy for all your sons and I think it's a must for Black households with sons. Joy oozes out of every page and it's a book that reminds Black boys that they are worthy of love and respect.
Haley Shaffer
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is the epitome of Black joy. Filled with positive messages that celebrate Black boys.
🌟I love to use picture books as copy change models with my 8 graders. This book will be the first copy change writing of next year.
The repeated “I am” invites students to talk about their experiences in everyday life. If you use George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From poem, I challenge you to replace it with this book. #disrupttexts

coming in September

PS: This book needs to be on your Caldecott and Newbery
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Derrick Barnes and Gordon James have done it again. "Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut" blew me away because the tone and message was so different than most of what's out there, but here's another book of joy, positivity, and power. The mental imagery conjured up by Barnes' musical prose is complemented perfectly by James' lively illustration. Every child should read these affirmations.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I first read this wonderfully lyrical, poetic and beautifully illustrated picture book, I couldn't help but think of Hilary Duff's song "I Am." Like the song "I Am", this book is empowering and self-validating.

I am not what they might call me,
and I will not answer to any name
that is not my own.
I am what I say I am.

This is a fantastic book for both children and adults. You are who you say you are - don't let others define you.

I am a brother,
a son,
a nephew,
a favourite cousin,
a gra
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A stunning, beautiful, awesome picture book with a powerful message. I buying one for Chase. Put it in a text set with THE UNDEFEATED. Eti, is the Caldecott Club considering this book?
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Edelweiss and Penguin Random House for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

The artwork was amazing. The writing was poetic and beautiful. And this picture book presented a vital and important message that needs to be heard from the mountaintops. What more can be said about vital and relevant picture book?
A gorgeous, affirming picture book beautifully illustrated. “I am every good thing” must be the mantra of every child. Highly recommended.
Sarah Krajewski
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Uplifting, powerful, and downright beautiful. A book to read in every classroom. Black boys—Black children—need this book.
"History from Black communities tells us that educators don't need to empower youth or give them brilliance or genius. Instead, the power and genius is already within them." - Gholdy Muhammed, Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy (p. 13, 2020)

This book reveals just what Dr. Muhammed is talking about - how the brilliance of our Black students is already within them; they don’t need us to tell them they are amazing or enable them; they need us
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I am not what they might call me,
and I will not answer to any name
that is not my own.
I am what I say I am."

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James, needs to be in every household. It does not matter if the color or gender, but little Black boys especially need this book. Gifted it to a friend, loved one, or coworker!

Barnes writes the book in the form of a poem that yields uplifting affirmations. A genuine smile appeared on my face as I flipped the page and saw
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“I am not what they may call me, and I will not answer to any name that is not my own. I am what I say I am.”

And the narrator of this exquisitely illustrated picture book is confident, funny, smart, adventurous, and creative. The authors ooze love for children; there is no way for a child to read this and NOT feel seen & cared for. It offers a representation that is sorely needed while embracing every child for all their gifts.
What a great book for kids. Even for adults. A reminder to celebrate our young people and encourage good Abad balanced self esteem. This book made me smile and I'm eager to share with my nephew. Thank you Decatur Book Festival for this gifted (and signed copy).
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gr-choice-award, 2020
I love that this book exudes confidence for children to be themselves. My only caveat to this book is that it has no plotline so I'm not sure how interesting it would be for children.
Molly Cluff (Library!)
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic illustrations--just like in Ode to the Fresh Cut, so no surprise there. The text almost reads like standup poetry or a speech rather than a story structure. Very voicey, full of literary devices and metaphor-heavy, so probably best for school-age kiddos rather than preschoolers. Lots of empowering positive affirmations! And that cinnamon roll line is just scrumptious.
In a society that fears Black men and treats Black boys like adults, books that remind Black boys of their goodness are so important, and also, an unlearning that must happen for white children and adults who implicitly see Black boys and men as threats.

I hope in my lifetime a book like this won’t seem like a paradigm shift and instead will only be looked upon as a sweet, uplifting book for children.
Kellee Moye
Read by the author on a Penguin webinar 6/24/20

This book is every good thing. Perfection! It is an ode to everything that young Black boys truly are. Everyone is going to want this for their classroom, for all levels!
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
From the team that created Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut comes a new picture book that speaks in the voice of a Black boy about who he is. He is a leader, thanks to his endless energy. He is every good thing in the world, good to his core, “like the center of a cinnamon roll.” He is skinned knees and getting back up again. He is a scientist exploring his world. He is polite and ready to learn. He is wildly creative, exploring and absorbing information. He is laughter and smiles, the perfect bea ...more
Kim Tyo-Dickerson
I read this digital review copy via Edelweiss+ and Penguin Random House.

It seems crazy for the world to need this book so much, but it does. I am the mom of an Ethiopian-American son, and while I read this book again and again, and I remember all the black boys who have been shot for just being black, just walking down the street black, I think about my little boy who is not so little anymore at 11 going on 12, and how he is every good thing in every way to me, his father, his sister, his commun
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I am brave. I am hope. I am my ancestors' wildest dream. I am worthy of success, of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness. And without a shadow of a doubt, I am worthy to be loved. I am worthy to be loved."

"I am tight hugs, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on - if you have to. I hope you never have to. I am here."

It's hard to write a good review when a book leaves you feeling speechless...

This book is everything I've been wanting from a children's book and I never even expected it. I w
Misse Jones
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I am a brother,
a son,
a nephew,
a favorite cousin,
a grandson.
I am a friend.
I am real.


In “I Am Every Good Thing (by author Derrick Barnes and illustrator Gordon C. James), we are presented with a beautiful collection of positive affirmations and identifiers that bring to life such a sweet story. All of which serving as a reminder the rich humanity that comprises our black boys! The illustrations were compelling and a great c
Jennifer Orosco
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Personally, this book brought tears to my eyes! I find that it validates and provides representation of black children and all other children alike. Black children are reminded daily of the injustices they face on a daily basis, whether it be something they experience in really life or see on the news. A story like this one reminds the child that they are worthy of safety and self love just as much as anyone else! Beside that, the illustrations are beautiful and provide so much symbolize that it ...more
Dierric Rogers
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed "Crown: An ode to the fresh cut" so I know this wouldn't disappoint and it didn't. I highly recommend this picture book to boys of color specifically, but everyone needs to read this book. With the climate the way it is (and honestly has always been) we need a book like this to uplift our young black men who are being targeted every day by those who look nothing like them and who have strong prejudices against them. "I am every good thing" is just what you are. You can't let anyone tel ...more
Stacey May
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
* Thank you Edelweiss and Penguin Random House for digital ARC. I reviewed this on my Instagram page on 5/26/2020. Here is that review:

From the duo that wrote Crown: Ode to a Fresh Cut. Do not miss this book! It belongs on every bookshelf and in every library. This is a must purchase and a must share kind of book. The book's message celebrates black boys and reminds them that they are every good thing. This book is representation and I hope that so many boys see themselves it in and hold it clos
Shaye Miller
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this beautiful book, written by the authors of Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut and dedicated by Barnes to Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, EJ Bradford, Jordan Edwards, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, and Julian Mallory. This book celebrates all the wonderful things young black boys are, ending with “I am worthy to be loved.” The illustrations were done with oil paints.

For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog a
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to sing this one, it's so good. It's a beautiful powerful song of a picture book, celebrating the wonder of a child, filled with spirit and strength and opportunity.

"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."

Wow. Fabulous.
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