“A diverse book packed full of positive affirmations, some containing potentially harmful oversimplifications.”
Jasmyn Wright’s positive affirmations promote perseverance and bolster resilience in children, or as the author puts it, pushing through. Featured in the digitally rendered illustrations are hand signals to accompany portions of the affirmations, a wide variety of diversity in the characters, examples of kids pushing through, and framed spotlights of individuals (some famous and some unknown, especially for children) with their names and the repeated phrase, “He/She pushed through.” The spotlight section of the book establishes sub-par inspiration for kids, highlighting faces but not explaining any details of their respective journeys to pushing through. While some, but not all, spotlighted individuals have a biographical profile at the end of the book, these are displayed in small font on pages overwhelmed with text. While J. Wright’s message in the affirmations is valid—to push through even when it seems too hard, scary, or rough—some of the affirmations contain harmful oversimplifications, such as “if they can do it, I can too!” Sharing an encouraging and deliberate message of resilience and perseverance, the substance of the book is far less memorable than the powerful Author’s Note, which is three pages long and inspiring.
Based on the Push Through movement that inspires kids worldwide, this is an empowering, energetic, and all-inclusive picture book that celebrates resilience in the face of adversity.
Hold your head high. No matter what stands in the way of your dreams, remember this: YOU can push through anything! If someone tells you it’s too hard, don’t you ever listen. You tell them, “I’m gonna push through!”
Inspired by a mantra written for her third-grade students, Jasmyn Wright’s uplifting call to “push through” is an invitation to young readers to announce their own power and to recognize and reaffirm that of others, regardless of setbacks. Her empowering words not only lift children up, but show them how to lift themselves up and seize their potential.
This book shows kids pushing through to do a variety of different things, like finish a math problem, climb a rock wall, or finding new friends to sit with at lunch. What’s something that’s hard for you that you could push through?
The picture frames in the book highlight a few people in history that have pushed through and made a difference in the world. Who is someone you know that has pushed through and been an example for you?
Jasmyn Wright is the founder of the Push Through Organization and a former elementary school teacher. She began her teaching career at a Title 1 school in Memphis, Tennessee, as a member of Teach for America. More recently, she taught at a charter school in Wilmington, Delaware, and was chosen to be a Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow. Visit the Push Through Organization at WePushThrough.org.
Shannon Wright is an illustrator and cartoonist living in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has been published by The New York Times, Time magazine, Mother Jones, and Google. She is also the illustrator of My Mommy Medicine by Edwidge Danticat. During the summer, Shannon coteaches a comics course at Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit her at Shannon-Wright.com.
To God, who is my ultimate source and strength. To my mom and grandmom, who nurture the creativity of my gifts. To my dad and older brother, whose personalities and humor help me push through. To my younger, autistic brother Julian, whose energy and spirit light up ANY space. To all of my students, who helped bring this message to life. To anybody in the world struggling to see their strength because it’s clouded by the barrier of doubt, just know that you too can Push Through!
For Riverview Elementary School and Broad Rock Elementary School
“An extensive author’s note explains that Wright came up with the “words and hand movements of the original Push Through mantra” as a teacher endeavoring to explain what “resilient” means. She says she “wanted [her students] to know that their past doesn’t define them, their present doesn’t have to hinder them, and their future is waiting on them.” It’s encouraging—but not revolutionary in its call for individual grit rather than collective change.”
“The latter refrain, an empowering mantra the author developed for her third grade students, punctuates the text, which is more rallying cry than narrative.”