Welcome to the Q&A and giveaway for the December 2020 edition of my Bartography Express newsletter, which you can read here and sign up for here.

My two-question Q&A this month is with Tami Charles, author of the bestselling picture book All Because You Matter, which was illustrated by Bryan Collier and published earlier this fall by Orchard Books/Scholastic.

“What this book manages to pull off is extraordinary,” wrote librarian Elizabeth Bird in a review rich with illustrations from All Because You Matter. “It’s global and universal. It drills down into everyday realities and then pulls back to encompass sheer galaxies. It’s taking a well-known phrase, turning it on its head, and handing it like a present to each and every child reader.”

I’m giving away a copy of All Because You Matter to one Bartography Express subscriber with a US mailing address. If you’d like to be the winner, just let me know (in the comments below or by emailing me) before 2021 gets here, and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

In the meantime, please enjoy my two-question Q&A with Tami Charles.

Chris: What has stood out to you about what you have heard from the public about All Because You Matter — about the conversations your book has inspired among its readers?

Tami: Overall, the reception has been extremely positive. I appreciate the reactions from parents and educators who “get it.” They see the universality in the message.

Right now our country is experiencing two pandemics: Covid and heightened racism. In the midst of this, our children, our most precious gifts, are witnessing this moment in history. It’s up to all of us to take this seriously.

Be open to hearing what’s on children’s minds. Answer their questions. Ease their fears. Remind children, especially BIPOC children, that their worth is not diminished through these trying times. The onus is not just on BIPOC parents to have these essential talks with children. It’s on everyone if we are to raise ALL children as empathetic future leaders.

Chris: How has your experience in the creation and reception of All Because You Matter shaped your sense of what’s possible in picture books in general, and in your own work in particular?

Tami: This book has shown me that the sky is the limit for topics that picture book authors can write about. When I first thought about writing All Because You Matter, my agent and I discussed the possibility of it being a middle grade nonfiction book.

But I kept circling back to this thought: shouldn’t we have conversations with children about race at an early age? There has to be a nuanced way to do it that allows the reader to inform their own thinking and decisions.

I’m grateful that I turned the corner and chose to write this as a picture book, though the door is certainly still open for that middle grade!