ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier



written by Tami Charles

illustrated by Bryan Collier

Review Copy from Scholastic

Profound parental love inspired this story, institutionalized racial injustice in America make it invaluable. In her Author's Note, Charles writes of this, sharing that, as the big questions like, "Why did they assassinate Dr. King?" and "Why won't you let me play with my Nerf guns outside?" came, she realized she couldn't "avoid discussing the injustices against people of color" any longer. She knew that she needed to have "The Big Talk" with her son and, as much as ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER is a joyful "welcome to the world," Charles also wrote it to be a "starting point for conversations about the racial climate in our country today," because, "These are issues that should be discussed in all families, of all backgrounds, if we are to raise empathetic future leaders." And, like Zetta Elliott's A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, Charles wrote this book to remind, 

all children, especially those from marginalized backgrounds that no matter where they come from. they matter. That the people who came before them, and the work they did to secure the life we have today, matters. Because of this, our children must continue that work and carry themselves with pride, even when they experience moments in which they are made to feel unimportant.

In his illustrator's note, Collier shares that he was partly raised by his grandmother, a quilt maker, and this influenced his work, joining "collage and petal shapes together to make a whole idea or image." This can be seen throughout the book,  from a knapsack, "full of wishes, carried on the backs of your ancestors as they created empires, pyramids, legacies," to the regal bloom that appears behind the boy of the story, as the narrator asks, "Did you know that you  were born from queens, chiefs, legends?" As the narrative travels from before his birth to his infancy, we see the boy, sitting in his mother's lap reading, the book, "like a mirror staring back at you," where you "really saw yourself . . .  same hair, same skin, same dreams." 

The refrain of, "All because you matter," shifts and there will be "times when you, too, will question your place in the universe." From classroom micro-aggressions, from teachers and students, to watching the news with Pop Pop and seeing people everywhere, "take a breath, take a stand, take a knee." Hearing Pop Pop's whispered prayers, you "wonder if they, or you, will ever matter." Charles returns to her refrain, from the "sun rays" and the "ocean waves," to the family - father, mother, son - embracing, encircled by loved ones, Collier's collage-petals emanating behind them, "all because, since the beginning of time . . . You mattered. They mattered. We matter . . . and always will."

All Because You Matter is a book that nurtures and affirms and reads like a bedtime story told in the embrace of a loving protector/parent.

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