Often, when I walk by the elementary school on my street and hear the desperation of adolescence, I think back to my own childhood. Just for a moment, memories of chasing each other while yelling at the top of our lungs, the tickle of warm dewy grass on my neck as I lay staring at the shape of clouds– they all flood back. And then. I remember.
When you’re a child, insecurity blooms from a place of vulnerability and inexperience. Sure, there are some kids who are just born confident. But most are not. And in Miriam Laundry’s new book I Can Be Me Maria, her main character, struggles to gain her own sense of confidence. She just wants to be like everyone else so that there is no chance of being called out for her uniqueness. Coming from a different country, she looks different and eats different foods with different names, like “pupusas”(which Alex has fun pronouncing: “Poo-POO–sa”). Embarrassed, Maria withdraws from her friends and struggles to even focus on her big assignment which is due in one week. All she can focus on is how different she is from everyone else. Yet, as the story unfolds, Maria discovers that she and all her classmates ARE the same in one surprising way: they are all uniquely different!
This book is a wonderful reminder that varying cultural backgrounds do not provide the only differences among children. Some like to read a lot; some prefer to run in circles. Some are insightful and thoughtful; some would rather wrestle and fight. Some boys like to dress like girls and some girls like to dress like boys.
The message Laundry gears towards children aged 5-12, is that children can become empowered by their own unique identities, not crucified or pulled down for them. With all that is going on in 2016, there couldn’t be a more important lesson for the next generation to learn.
About Miriam Laundry Miriam Laundry is a Canadian author and speaker with a goal of empowering children to believe in themselves and to know they CAN! Bestselling author and mother of four, Miriam writes books that inspire and empower children to make choices that promote confidence, happiness and responsibility. Miriam set a Guinness World Record™in 2014 with her first book in the I CAN series, I CAN Believe win Myself. Check out her fan page on Facebook.