Everyday Brave – Colter Jackson

Everyday Brave by Colter Jackson
Published by Beaming Books on March 26, 2024
Genres: Children's
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One little girl finds it easy to speak up, make new friends, and shoo away the monsters under her bed when she has a great big lion by her side. Next to her lion, nothing is scary--not even broccoli. But when a classmate tells her the lion is only in her imagination, that bravery vanishes. Suddenly, the world is scary again. Until the little girl tries a roar of her own and discovers that maybe the courage she needed was inside her all along.

At once fierce and tender, Colter Jackson's Everyday Brave is a book about finding your footing, facing your fears, and discovering the lion-like roar within.

She was a girl braver than most. She was brave because she had a lion. The opening lines of Colter Jackson’s Everyday Brave introduces readers to a wild, self-confident, courageous, and brave young girl whose confidence cannot be shaken. She’s not afraid to explore, to speak up, to apologize. She’s confident in herself and who she is.

But one day, someone told the girl that her lion was only in her imagination. And just like that, she found herself alone. The old adage goes “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” and that’s a lie. Without her lion, who is she? Anxious, worried, scared. She doesn’t like this new her.

So she determines to be brave. She makes a choice. And even though she was scared, she roars. As the book closes we find, not that her lion came back—but that she was the lion all along.

The strength of Everyday Brave is its beautifully sweeping illustrations that capture the emotions of the book. Jackson exquisitely portrays the wildness of confidence and the anxiety and insecurity that results when that confidence is shaken. I appreciate the way in which she defines bravery—as the desire to try new things, to apologize when you get it wrong, as willing to speak up against injustice, to eating broccoli. Bravery is things big and small. Bravery isn’t being unafraid but doing the right thing through fear. It’s a powerful and accessible outlook on what it means to be brave.

One quibble I have with the book is that I think sometimes we need to know that it’s okay to not be brave at times. That’s where I thought this book was going. That you don’t always have to put on a face of confidence and success, that there is space for lament, that it’s okay to not be okay. Everyday Brave doesn’t really rest in that and instead rushes back to get brave again, and unfortunately portrays bravery as an easy choice that can be made rather than a struggle to keep and maintain. The message is meant to come across as encouraging and empowering, but I don’t know that it will come across that way to the introverted, those hard-wired to love routine, or those coming from traumatic backgrounds. Obviously, you can’t write every book to every kid’s experience, but I really thought that, in the messy middle of this book, we’d see that being brave isn’t always so easy.