Grace Byers - Author of I Am Enough

Why is childhood literacy important?

Childhood is the most transformative period of an individual’s life. As children slowly discover the world around them, opportunities for inequality arise. Within our Montserrat class this semester, we have learned of such controversies that affect the educational and social development of a child. Specifically, in learning about the rise in stereotypes and group favoritism that influence the issues of class, race, and gender. If not properly addressed during childhood, these issues of prejudice can take hold and become problematic in the future during the formation of a child’s social perspective, just as we have seen currently with the many social injustices of today within education. In order to bring about a more equitable society in the future, childhood must be treated not only as a period of growth but also a period of teaching.

Childhood literacy is an option for taking action in educating children the importance of recognizing the difference within others. By reading books, children are not only improving reading proficiency but are additionally being taught how to recognize inclusively diverse relationships, equality amongst peers, and the attributes of different cultures. In the storybook I Am Enough by Grace Byers, the central theme of empowerment provides the message of how each child is more than “enough” to belong. The storybook teaches the lessons of the importance of being conscious about class, gender, and race through small everyday actions. With the guidance of I Am Enough, children can better understand their place in the world and the place of others.

Page 14

Themes of Race

One of Byers’ main themes within the storybook exemplifies the importance of love and inclusion regardless of people’s differences. Page 14 and 15 include a drawing of a black and a white girl mingling with each other. Byers conveys the lesson that despite our differences, whatever they might be, they do not dictate who we are. Her main message from these few pages is that everyone has a place here on earth regardless of the individual. Therefore, we must learn to love each other rather than allow physical features such as our skin color to appreciate one another.

Page 13

Themes of Class

Another theme within the story relates to class in a similar way as to how race is addressed. No two people are the same because we all are different. We all come from different homes, schools, and towns. Everyone, regardless of differences in personal background, should be appreciated for who they are as a person. This sentiment is stressed on page 13 by conveying that when individual differences are recognized, there is the opportunity to look beyond minor distinctions such as class when determining a person’s worth. Class or socioeconomic status should never be a determining factor in how we judge someone. After all, despite our differences, we are all enough.

Page 15

Themes of Gender

A final theme in the story is gender, touching upon comparable concepts seen in both the themes of race and class. The book stresses the value of unity and inclusivity through shared goals and affirmations. In doing this, the importance of inclusivity promotes equity between all genders. The illustrations in the story depict girls, particularly to encourage cooperation and discourage rivalry between girls by emphasizing their shared experiences and identities. Also, representation in books, like this one, helps to strengthen girls’ confidence, an essential step in abolishing gender inequality.