Red: A Crayon's Story, by Michael Hall

I’ll start with this: If you don’t have Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall in your home collection or in your classroom, hurry and get a copy now.

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I see it all the time. A mom who grew up dancing and pushes her daughter to take ballet, but the child has no interest and just wants to play soccer. A dad who was a high school baseball star and wants nothing more than for his son to follow in his footsteps, but that child has no interest and just wants to play piano. A mom who was — and maybe still is — the life of the party, so she encourages play dates and throws the coolest get togethers for her child’s friends. But that child? You guessed it. She has no interest in being a social butterfly and just wants to cuddle on the couch with a good book, more introvert than extrovert. So what do these parents do? They push.. and they push. We are all guilty of it in one way or another - I know I am. We push and we push because we want our children to be just what we imagined them to be, and we don’t always follow their lead.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall reminds us to take a step back. To listen. To really, really listen. Red: A Crayon’s Story is the story of Red, a red crayon. Or is it? It seems the crayon is having an identity crisis, for though he is wrapped in a red label, there is no debating that every time he colors, he is not red but blue. His parents, his teacher and even his friends try to help him be Red, but no matter how hard he tries, he simply cannot be what everyone else thinks he should be. Then one day, something magical happens. The frustrated crayon meets a new friend who tells Red what he really needs to hear: Red isn’t Red at all… he’s actually blue! And so it is that this was just what Red needed needed: a gentle nudge to look inward and listen to what he likely knew all along. He was blue! He was really blue! With the encouragement of that one friend, Red gained the courage to be true to who he really was inside.

Is there any more perfect message we want our kids to take away from a story? Is there any more significant ideal we want to instill in our children and students? This book can be read on so many levels, as it hits home for any child — any person — who has ever been “labeled” in a way that doesn’t quite fit. When I first read through the book, I immediately thought it was a message for kids struggling with their gender identities. But after reading it through many more times, I discovered the book conveyed a message so much broader than this. How so? Because when you boil Red: A Crayon’s Story down to its simplest level, it is about any child trying hard to be something that doesn’t fit, simply because they think they must conform to others’ ideas of who or what they should be.

It’s challenging for a kid to break away from societal norms or parental expectations. It’s hard to go against the grain, to follow your heart and do what feels right for you, even when you know you may disappoint others in the process. But Red: A Crayon’s Story beautifully reminds children that when they believe in themselves and stay true to who they are at their core, the possibilities are endless. It’s also a wonderful reminder to parents — and even teachers, too — that we are all unique, every single one of us. It’s hard for our kids to find the courage to let their true colors shine brightly. It’s even harder when we push them to be something they are not. What does this mean? Sometimes the adults need to be courageous, too. Sometimes we need the strength to let go of the expectations we have for our childrenand let them be who they were destined to be. Only then will they truly thrive.

So don’t delay. Grab Red: A Crayon’s Story, today, and let it speak to your kids. We have no doubt that it will get two trunks up from your little ones… and you too.

Have you read Red: A Crayon’s Story? What do you think about it? We want to hear from you! Let us know on our Facebook page! And make sure you are following us on Instagram and Twitter, too!

Did you like this post? We are so glad! We think you will love these as well, so make sure to check them out! Favorite Books About Courage, Picture Books to Help You Raise Kind Kids and Favorite Picture Books of 2018.

Want the book? Get it here! Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own!

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake

If you are looking for a fabulous book for any child questioning his or her identity, an LGBQT story, or a thought-provoking read about one tween’s journey to understanding and finding herself, you must check out Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake, stat.

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My goodness, can these middle grade books get any better? Where were these phenomenal stories when I was a young girl? I remember when I was 12 years old, and my home in Miami was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. It was a pivotal year in my life- I had just become a Bat Mitzvah, I was struggling to figure out if I would ever become a graceful teenager and not just a gawky teen, I longed to know if boys would ever look my way, and I wondered if my community would ever get put back together after suffering from total destruction. So many questions, so much angst— and so few stories to help me feel less alone and less confused.

Though my longings were not quite the same, I wish I’d had a book like Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World! Ivy Aberdeen’s angst hit all the right notes and resonated so very deeply. In this story, Ivy’s home is flattened by a tornado that rages through her town. All she manages to save is her pillow which contains her most precious possessions inside a thin case - fancy markers and a journal filled up with drawings, many of which contain illustrations of her and an unidentifiable girl. While staying in a school gym with other displaced persons after the storm, Ivy’s notebook goes missing. When her pictures start turning up in her locker, together with notes encouraging her to be true to herself and come clean with who she is at her core, Ivy begins to hope that the mysterious letters are coming from a girl on whom she has secretly developed a crush. Will Ivy let go of her fears and embrace who she is meant to be?

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World will be a valuable window book for some and a mirror book for so many others. Ivy fears being unlike those around her- being shunned for wanting something so different than her friends and her big sister. After all, when Ivy’s sister and her best friend stop speaking and Ivy believes it’s because her sister’s friend has come out of the closet, Ivy fears her sister will totally disown her, too. Though the yearnings expressed in Ivy’s story may certainly be different for some tweens, the burning desire to understand who you are at your core, to not just accept those things that make us unique but love them too, is simply universal. We have all experienced, in unique ways and to varying degrees, the unsettling and anxiety-provoking fear that comes hand in hand with feeling so wholly different from those around us.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World gave me chills, and it is a book of incredible importance that has an especially significant place in every library, every classroom, and every child’s bookshelf. I am so grateful to the fabulous kidlit authors that continually place these notable books into children’s hands around the globe. There is nothing like a book to make you feel less alone and more understood.

What did you think about Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World? Let us know on our Facebook page, and make sure to follow us there! If you liked this post, make sure to check out our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018. We think you will also love these books about tweens discovering themselves: Front Desk, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Want the book? Get it here! Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. *This is an affiliate link.

If you have a tween reader at home, Ivy Aberdeens Letter to the World is a fabulous middle grade book about self identity is an absolute must!.jpg