From the Publisher:
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.
Dedicated to former Indian Residential School students and their families, this delightful book celebrates the moments that bring happiness through cultural and family connections. Though written from an indigenous perspective, the language and illustrations are inclusive enough to invite children of all nationalities to think about and honour those things that bring them joy as they connect with their families and heritage. For example: “My heart fills with happiness when…I feel the sun dancing on my cheek; I walk barefoot on the grass; I dance; …” The reference that is most explicitly Indigenous is “I smell bannock baking in the oven”, and could easily be substituted for another cultural delicacy. The illustrations depict children of different ages and genders, though they all have brown hair. The book seems to be set in modern times, and the illustrations portray a modern kitchen, etc. The overall tone is bright and cheerful and is meant to evoke positive memories and wonderful shared experiences. It is a fantastic toddler book that celebrates family and heritage and would be valuable in any collection, especially those of First Nations heritage.
All three of my kids are of First Nations heritage, and I was so grateful to find this age-appropriate resource that they could identify with and that would help us further explore their birth culture. I really appreciated that the kids in the story are depicted doing a number of every-day activities. The children in the book all looked like my kids -with dark hair and olive skin. The traditional dress on the dancing page caught the eye of my youngest daughter and the boy drumming is the favourite of my son. My three-year old was easily able to articulate many things that make her heart fill with happiness. We had a wonderful discussion about the importance of singing, dance, cooking and drumming in her heritage, as well as in the families/traditions that my husband and I grew up in. What a wonderful book to help us enter in to discussions about different cultures!
- engaging illustrations
- can be used to explore First Nations heritage, as well as other cultures
- great introduction to the importance of family traditions as well as exploring the traditions of other nations/cultures
- wonderful prompts for discussion and personalization
Why/How Use it with kids:
- ask your kids what things make them happy – are any the same as in the book or are they very different? Why?
- tell your kids some stories of things that made you happy in your childhood (or family traditions)- how do they compare to those of your children? Why?
- have kids draw or otherwise represent (paint, diorama, etc.) the things that make them happy and other things that bring them joy as part of the family/your own culture. This would make an incredible keepsake