I'm Here is a sweet and simple story of a unique little boy's effort to be noticed. The story is uncomplicated and touching in its effort to show children the importance of accepting differences and reaching out to others.
Author/Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds wrote I'm Here to help readers better understand and accept children on the autism spectrum or kids who are simply different in the way they think and act. The illustrations help tell the story. Leaving the background white, Reynolds draws his main character kneeling in the same pose in the first half of the book. The solitary little boy kneels while the other children in the story play and interact with one another.
The boy never approaches the children. He does let the children know he's there by building and flying a paper airplane. It is the airplane, retrieved by a little girl, that opens the door for human contact. It is the airplane that does the communicating for the boy, and it is the smile on the little girl's face that tells the boy that she is a friend.
I read and discussed this tender story with my six year old daughter. She loved the illustrations. She is often drawn to uncomplicated drawings with quiet backgrounds. Peter H. Reynolds illustrations are fabulous. Charming and expressive in their simplicity. The story's message was not easily interpreted by her young mind. She understood that the boy was alone and isolated from his peers, but she was confused by the giant paper airplane imaginings of the little boy. She thought he'd made friends with the other kids by building a giant airplane that they helped him fly. My daughter still enjoyed the story. I think the book's message was still clear - differences are okay/everyone needs acceptance and friendship.
I brought the book to a first/second grade multi-age classroom the next day. The discussion flowed effortlessly. The slightly older students easily identified the boy's struggle and his effort to be noticed. The empathy they felt for the character was touching.
Peter H. Reynolds conveyed an important message in simple text and charming illustrations. I'm Here is a wonderful story to share with children.
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