Framed within a repeated question – Have I ever told you? – kids receive strong, loving encouragement and life lessons with this picture book. The reader wants their little ones to know that they can be anything they want to be in this world; that they are special and unique, and that they must be kind. There are looks at the sillier sides of life that we love so much – “Have I told you that I love the way you get food on your forehead when you eat?” – and share moments that assure our kids that we will always make time for them: “Have I told you that taking care of you and protecting you is the most important thing I do?” “Have I told you that if you hear a word that makes you uncomfortable, you can ask me what it means and we can talk about it?” There are reminders to treat others with respect and kindness, and to stand up for others being picked on, and reassurances that disagreements are okay, disrespect is not.
I really enjoyed the artwork in Have I Ever Told You?, which focuses on hands: small hands within larger hands; holding hands; hands using sign language; hands wearing puppets, hands waving hello. It creates a safe space, a loving, comforting space for readers, and really drives home the comforting, loving messages contained within the pages. The mixed media artwork features swirls, little animals and gadgets, communicating feelings and featuring hands of all colors. This one is a lovely storytime book and a very nice addition to your empathy collections. If you have kids who loved Hands Can in their storytimes when they were younger, this is a wonderful next step.