I AM LOVE: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
I AM LOVE: A Book of Compassion
Review Copy from Abrams Kids
I AM LOVE: A Book of Compassion is the fourth in the I AM series by Verde and Reynolds, and if you have read the other three, then you know it is a superb, important, must-have book. As these four books follow a pattern, I feel compelled to repeat words from my January, 2019 review of I AM HUMAN: A Book of Empathy. With simplicity and clarity, Verde and Reynolds's book raises emotional intelligence. With joyfulness and love, Verde and Reynolds give us yet another gift, another way to teach and show our children both what is beautiful about humanity and how to face the challenges of being human. Focusing this book on the concept of compassion, Verde begins in a rainstorm, with the narrator, a marvelously genderfree character, noticing someone going through a storm (literal and emotional), seeing fear, and asking, "What can I do to help let the light back in?" Pausing to find an answer, hands on heart, eyes closed, the narrator responds, "I have compassion. I act with tenderness. I am love. I can listen and not say a word. I can be there. Love is being present." Verde and Reynolds go on to show that love is comfort, love is gentle, love is gratitude, and love is self-care. Love is creative, love is understanding, love is effort, love is remembering, and love is tiny gestures. Finally, noting that we are all made of the same stuff, the narrator shows that love is connection.
Verde's writing is informed by her work as a children's yoga and mindfulness instructor and she ends each book with instruction for yoga and meditation practices for young and old. Where I AM HUMAN ended with instructions on the Loving Kindness Meditation, Verde ends I AM LOVE with Heart-Opening Yoga Poses. In her author's note, which I am going to quote at length, as I feel like the current geopolitical state of the world, not to mention the climate, demands we think about this for ourselves and our children, Verde writes,
There is a lot of research showing that the way we carry ourselves is directly connected to our emotions and state of mind. When we see children hanging their heads or slouching, those can be signs that they are feeling unhappiness or anxiety and are trying to physically and emotionally protect their hearts. When you heart is closed off or "hurts," it is difficult to connect with others and to see, feel, or share love.
Heart opening yoga poses allow us to lead with our hearts by opening and expanding the front of the body. These poses bring space and breath into the body and have been shown to positively affect mood and outlook and to create feelings of compassion and love. These activities can be done in school or at home, in any order, with others or along, and they should be repeated a few times to fully experience the effects.
Like all the I AM books, I AM LOVE is empowering for readers of any age, but especially young readers, giving them tools to cope with the challenges of life and embrace the wonder and beauty.