4 out of 4 stars
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The Light Within Me is a children's book written by Lauren Grabois Fischer and illustrated by Devin Hunt. It's the fifth installment of The Be Books, a series that is meant to inspire children to "BE positive, accepting, kind, and loving." This is a self-empowering book with something to offer for children - or adults - of every age.
We all have a light within us. Happiness, positivity, and confidence can make that light shine bright. Your light might turn off when you're feeling negative, disappointed, or anxious. You don't have to wallow in darkness; you have the power to choose to keep your light turned on. When you decide to let your light shine, you'll do more than make yourself feel better—having your light on means that you can spread kindness, positivity, and joy to everyone you encounter, which in turn, helps them keep their light shining brightly, too. We have the power to make the world a better place simply by choosing to be positive.
Without a plot-driven narrative, The Light Within Me reads a bit like a self-help book for children. Even without a story, the book remains engaging, even for its youngest readers. The first-person perspective (using a young girl as the narrator) kept the author's messages on a personable level, helping readers feel more connected to the text than an unidentified third-person narrator would have. Additionally, using a child gave the prose youthful energy and enthusiasm. This vivacity was compounded with colorful, whimsical full-page illustrations and its playful, large font, making the overall package even more appealing, especially for younger readers.
A section called "Inspiration and Discussion" makes up the last five pages of this 40-page book. These activities seem to be meant for the whole family, and I think that children and adults alike could benefit from them. There are questions to start discussions and activities to facilitate positivity and well-being. For example, there's information about mediation, donating old toys/clothes, and creating a goal to make five people smile each day. This was easily my favorite part of the book because I can get bogged down by the stresses of life and forget about the small things that make it all worthwhile. I've started using some of these activities at home, both on my own and with my 4-year-old.
The work appears to be professionally edited, as I only noticed two minor errors. The only other "error" I saw was in the illustration on page 26. The girl is supposed to pushing up the light switch, but the way her hands are positioned makes it look like she's pulling it down. The only other critique I have is that it doesn't really take into account that some people have depression, and happiness isn't as easy as deciding to be happy. This could make some children feel like there's something wrong with them. However, I also understand that the author couldn't cover everything, and this book would still serve as a useful tool for parents to open up discussions about depression, anxiety, etc.
Overall, the few issues I had with this book are greatly outweighed by the self-empowering messages, beautiful illustrations, and the "Inspiration and Discussion" portion. Therefore, I'm happy to give it a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to children of all ages, mainly because of the activities included. The simplistic language and illustrations in the first section will be most appealing to those in elementary school and below.
The Light Within Me
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