All Because You Matter


As this picture book love letter to Black children everywhere opens, a couple anticipates the birth of their child. “You were dreamed of,” reads author Tami Charles’ text, “like a knapsack full of wishes, carried on the backs of your ancestors.” Even the sky knows that this child’s life will matter, as we see a star shoot across the sky in the baby’s honor, a precursor of the celestial symbolism that fills the book. We follow these same parents, particularly the boy’s mother, as we read about the milestones in the child’s life—the baby’s first steps and words, as well as his first encounter with a book, one that mirrors the boy’s own skin color and “dreams.”

As the boy grows older, he begins to encounter and question racism, from microaggressions in his classroom to injustice and brutality he sees on the news. In one spread, he sits with his grandfather watching reports of widespread protests. But page after page depicts the boy being loved and supported by his family, and depicts his family reminding him of his self-worth.

Illustrator Bryan Collier incorporates proud Black faces into his remarkably textured collages and employs flower petals as a recurring motif. In a closing note, Collier writes that these petal shapes are influenced by his grandmother, a quilter who partly raised him. “Did you know that you are the earth?” reads a spread as a flower blooms behind the boy, Black faces from both past and the present looking out from vividly colored petals.

Charles weaves connections between Black children today and the ancestors who came before them. Boldly, beautifully and cosmologically, it also connects them to the very creation of the universe itself, driving home how strongly the “strength, power, and beauty” of their lives matter. All Because You Matter is a powerful, poetic manifesto that is required reading for every family.