By Dave Andrusko
During the pandemic, our wonderful daughter-in-law did a masterful job supplementing the education of our 12 year old and 9 year-old grandchildren.
Like probably all other parents, she looked for ways to teach not just the basics of math, science, reading and writing, but the essentials of how to treat others with kindness, gentleness, and respect—and why.
Enter “When You Became You,” a gorgeously illustrated children’s book, written by Brooke Stanton & Christiane West.
We know, although the wider culture often seems dumbfounded at the thought, that you were always you. And that’s what this book accomplishes subtly, thoughtfully, and systematically.
Consider…from the first page on, this little book tells the reader, “You are a human being.” In numerous clever ways, Stanton and West illustrate this foundational truth: “And from the moment your life begins, you are the same human being throughout your entire life.” In other words, the book teaches the continuity of human life.
For example, “A human infant is a human being…You used to be toddler….A human toddler is a human being,” and so forth.
“When You Became You” teaches the equality of all human life. Doesn’t matter if you are young or old; or if you can or cannot “talk/walk/dance,”—or “even if you aren’t born yet” —you are what?
“A human being.”
The drawings are simple but beautiful and guaranteed to keep the young reader’s attention. They teach invaluable lessons in ways children can assimilate.
Most importantly, “When You Became You” teaches that whatever stage in our lives we are at, it’s just a period in our human existence that we have categorized. You and I aren’t more human when we are fully grown or less human when we were a zygote. We were always important, always a human being, just because we have a human nature.
My favorite one-two-three punch is a trio of passages that come about 2/3rds of the way through the book:
“You were the same you at different stages of your life.
“Most stages of your life happen after you are born.
“But you did a lot of growing as a human being before you were born, too!”
One review put it this way:
This is an adorable children’s book for teaching children about the continuum of life. Illustrated with deep colors, it depicts human beings in the womb so that children can see what they looked like when they were beginning to grow and how they have grown into the child they are today. Spanning the pages, these illustrations are beautiful and allow children to really understand how they developed.
“When You Became You” can be purchased at all the usual spots, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Do yourself–and your children/grandchildren–a huge favor and purchase at least one copy.