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Honorable Mention
Mixed Age Groups

Why am I here?

Publishers Summary:

Kelly, Matthew. (2009) Why am I here? A story about becoming the-best-version-of-yourself! ISBN: 10: 0984131809. recommends age 8 and under.

Publisher descriptionMax was a curious boy. He was curious about other countries, he was curious about animals and nature, and he was curious about life. One day while he is fishing with his Grandpa, Max stumbles upon the ultimate question, Why am I here? His Grandfather suggests that Max is here to become the-best-version-of-himself! In the days and weeks that follow, Max begins to notice when he is and when he is not celebrating the-best-version-of-himself. This single idea becomes the touchstone for his decision-making, begins to guide his words and actions, and fosters a remarkable self-awareness. Why am I Here? Is a remarkable lesson for children of all ages about living with passion and purpose. 

Matthew Kelly is an internally renowned speaker and New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books including: The Rhythm of Life, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, Building Better Families, and The Dream Manager.

Our thoughts:

Typically we do not review books for readers under age 9 because, quite frankly, those stories should always portray the virtues in action. And they don’t interpretation due to simplicity. But once in a while, we are given a book that’s a bit different from the norm and worth a look at. 

Why am I here? is a project supported in part by the Marge and Charles J. Schott Foundation. It’s main character, Max, is just old enough to begin wondering about his role in the world around him. And his grandfather gives him sage advice: to think about his choices every day, and try to choose in ways that will help him be the best Max he can be. 

The story proceeds to show Max pondering these choices, typical choices that a boy or girl will face such as healthy eating, obeying his mum and getting on with his sister. Sometimes he makes good choices and sometimes, the wrong choice. 

The important take-away from this story is that Max thinks about how he feels when making these choices. He realizes that good choices makes him feel good, and so these must be the right choices to make. In the grown-up world, we call this discernment! And the funny thing is, when we start to openly help our child discern the small stuff in his/her life, parents and teachers find themselves better at discerning too :>) 

We shouldn’t overlook the value of an intergenerational story too. Due to our nuclear-family society, kids grow up never really knowing the elder generation. This story begins showing how a child interacts with a grandparent, their closeness sufficient for the boy to ask him these questions; the role the grandparent plays in “being there” for the child to give guidance and wisdom.  

Intervention specialists, child psychologists and classroom/homeschool teachers for grades Preschool through 2nd grade will find this book useful. Due to the nature of the story and length of sentences with word complexity, it is better used as a book shared with an adult rather than one  handed to a child to read on their own. The value to the book is as a discussion tool, not to put the child to sleep at night or keep them quiet during naptime in the afternoon.  

A book such as this can be your “starter” to initiating a classroom culture of good character. Reading aloud to the class, you can then reinforce the idea of continual discernment as you work with the children during the day. This then is quite useful if drawing upon other character education curriculum in your classroom.  

For this reason, librarians are also encouraged to add this to their collection as an important piece that needs to be available to the general public.  

For all these uses and more, recommends Why am I here?

So what do YOU think? Read our comments on the Litland Blog and tell us yours!


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