Where Do I Belong? Two Fabulous Books About Understanding Our Place in the World

Inside: Kids often wonder where they fit in this big wide world of ours, and two new picture books touch on this topic beautifully.: CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE, by Deborah Freedman, and THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME, by Yoni Yuly. Check them out!

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Where Do I Belong?

Two New Books Help Children Understand Their Relationship to the World!

What child doesn’t wonder about how he or she fits into this big bustling world of ours? Kids are small beings in the great universe, and sometimes, it is challenging for them to understand their relationship to it all. How do they find their place in the world? Do they even have one? What is their reason?

Two new books address these big questions in beautiful ways, and we simply adore each of them for how they encourage children to recognize their importance to their own big worlds. 


carl and the meaning of life, by Deborah Freedman

CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE is by Deborah Freedman, a brilliant author and illustrator who wrote SHY, one of my all time favorite books. CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE is the story of Carl, an earthworm, who spends his life — day in and day out — tunneling in the soil.


One day, as shown in the above spread, a field mouse stops Carl in his tracks with one simple, innocent question. “Why?” This question sets Carl off on a journey to discover who he is and what his purpose is here on earth. Why does he do what he does?

Carl’s quest leads him around the forest where he has discussions with all of the animals he comes across. What? he asks. Who? he asks. How?


Carl struggles as he tries to figure out why he was put on the earth and what he is meant to do, seemingly frustrated that everyone seems to know this answer but him. But, alas, as the earth around him begins to change, Carl realizes that as small as he is, he has a very important role in the ecosystem.

At once a primer on life and a really cool read about science and the way animals play a part in protecting the earth, we love the way CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE effortlessly conveys that each of us, no matter who we are or what we look like, were brought to earth to do something special.

We are all part of a community, and while we each have something important to contribute, it is the way a community works together, with each person (or creature!) doing their part, that makes the world run so harmoniously. Carl’s tunneling in the soil is tremendously important to his community, and though he first views his actions as seemingly insignificant, he comes to realize the value they have in protecting the environment and the animals who live around him. We love CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE!


The Whole Wide World and Me, Toni Yuly

Toni Yuly’s THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME is another beauty that discusses how a child relates to the world at large. The illustrations are vibrant and so lovely, I could stare at it all day!


THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME is just as contemplative as CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE, but in a much simpler manner, making it a perfect book for the preschool set. In this beautiful, joyful book, the lyrical prose and vibrant illustrations showcase that each of us is a part of something bigger.


THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME reminds us that we all have a place in the natural world, just like a beautiful flower in a field or a wondrous cloud in the sky. The comparisons are child friendly, utilizing recognizable objects and animals to showcase how each of us is part of something bigger than ourselves. The book is at once gentle and empowering, a delightful ode to the world that perfectly captures a child’s perspective and simultaneously answers their significant questions.

For the child wondering how he fits into the world, CARL AND THE MEANING OF LIFE and THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME stories get two trunks up from our team!


Happily Ever Elephants received copies of these books for review consideration, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.