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Staff Picks: “You Hold Me Up”

You Hold Me Up is a picture book with gentle, rhythmic text that lists ways readers can show empathy and demonstrate care and respect for one another.

You hold me up when you are kind to me

when you share with me

when you learn with me.

You hold me up when you play with me

when you laugh with me

when you sing with me.

Author Monique Gray Smith (of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent) often spotlights the resilience and strength of First Peoples in her work. Her author’s note describes the trauma that Indigenous communities carry in Canada as a result of the country’s historic Indian Residential (boarding) Schools program. She writes, “I wrote [the book] to remind us of our common humanity and the importance of holding each other up with respect and dignity. I hope it is a foundational book for our littlest citizens. A book that encourages dialogue among children, their families, their care providers and their educators. At its heart, it is a book about love, building relationships and fostering empathy.”

She need not hope — this book does all of the above and more. It is a quiet and quick read, but it packs a punch. Share this with neighbors and loved ones through good times and bad, for it will inspire connectedness and the hope that comes from engaging with and working to build deeper understandings of each other.

The illustrations for You Hold Me Up by Métis artist Danielle Daniel are rendered in gouache, acrylic, and pencil in pastel hues. They show contemporary, Native children and families affirming and supporting each other in a myriad of ways: helping in the kitchen, dancing together in pajamas, cuddling, laughing, dreaming, listening, and enjoying time spent in each other’s company.

You can put You Hold Me Up on hold through the Deerfield Public Library catalog. While you wait, be sure to check out the suggestions for other reads in the “You Might Also Like These …” section of the catalog.

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