What I Tell Myself FIRST

Children's Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem

Children - Social Issues
30 Pages
Reviewed on 12/29/2019
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Author Biography

Born in Chicago, IL, Michael A. (Mike) Brown, MA is the author of a revolutionary social emotional children's book, What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children's Real-World Affirmations of Self-Esteem. Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, this book of real-world affirmations highlights the various abilities and attributes of the reader while exposing readers to realistic possibilities of rejection of difference in various forms thereby enabling readers to form mental frameworks to surmount those forms of rejection and achieve positive self-actualization. Mr. Brown is a product of the Chicago Public School system. He served in the United States Army and in various communities as a police officer. He is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of MABMA Enterprises, LLC and the principal instructor of Security Training Concepts, a training agency specializing in collegiate / career occupational courses in multiple criminal justice and self-defense-related disciplines. Mr. Brown also serves as a nationally-certified anger management specialist and Crisis Prevention Institute-certified nonviolent crisis intervention instructor. He is the father of four beautiful children. A former adjunct college professor and advocate of education, Mr. Brown is a graduate of Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, having been conferred a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Criminal Justice, Psychology and Philosophy) in 2006 and a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice in 2012. He is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, the National Anger Management Association, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children's Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem is a social issues picture book for children, grades k-3, written by Michael A. Brown and illustrated by Zoe Ranucci. Who am I? A simple question, but the answer can provide a child with room and time to begin considering who they actually are beyond the formality of name and family identification. The short answer is, of course, one’s name, but there’s so much more that can be explored. Children are faced with an existence that often seems to require a graduate-level understanding of philosophy in a world that gets ever more complex.

Michael A. Brown’s compilation of affirmations goes a long way towards guiding children to consider themselves, their identities and their choices in a positive and engaging way. Brown is never preachy nor does he fall into the trap of didacticism. Rather, he approaches each of the issues he covers in this marvelous workbook from a child’s perspective. He takes his readers very seriously, and it shows in the way he communicates with them. I was inspired by this book and feel that anyone who reads this book, child and caregiver alike, will find it as inspiring as I did. Reading it can lead to discussions about truth, lies, visions and even why some people just can’t excel at some things while they do at others.

Zoe Ranucci’s illustrations do an outstanding job of reinforcing the author’s goals and visions. Her kids feel real, neither stereotypes nor cartoon images, and readers will find characters to identify with on every page. Even left-handed kids will find kids just like them throughout the pages of this book. Lefties are often left out or overlooked; Brown and Ranucci’s work fairly teems with left-handed artists, writers, and ballerinas. What I Tell Myself FIRST may help readers of all ages become just a bit more self-aware as well as help to build their self-esteem. It really is the most remarkable and accomplished children’s book and is highly recommended.

Bruce Arrington

What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children's Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem by Michael A Brown is a young reader book that emphasizes what goes on inside a child as he or she develops. It is a strategic tool to help buffer against life itself, which throws its barbs at us in so many ways. Whether from family members, schoolmates, or adults, negative input affects how a person sees himself or herself. The book provides good directions on manners, simple reminders of how to treat others and support them even on bad days.

I think this is a great book. It doesn’t whitewash life with promises of 'dream your dream and it will happen.' It works rather to help the young reader accept who they are, and work harder on the things they need help with. It’s practical and written on a level that children can understand and appreciate. The artwork is clever and colorful, generating ideas for kids so they can better understand the material presented. The pictures are inclusive and universal so kids from all sorts of backgrounds can relate to them. I would recommend this book to parents who find their kids struggling with who they are and who they are not. I would also recommend this book to school counselors to help children build positive habits of self-reflection. A book like this is a good one to visit again and again as the habits are built into a young life. What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children's Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem by Michael A Brown is highly recommended.

Joshua Soule

What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children’s Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem is a children’s book written by Michael A. Brown that gives children positive messages to build self-esteem and start the day in a positive way. Brown covers various areas for kids by walking through many concepts essential for healthy growth and development, including “I am beautiful/handsome” and “I am good at some things and not good at some things.” What I Tell Myself FIRST is written in a personalized manner; it even provides spaces for the young readers to write their names or other specifics to make it that much more of a personal experience to read.

I was truly blown away by the idea of What I Tell Myself FIRST, a book that addresses the needs of children based on Mazlow’s Hierarchy. Author Michael A. Brown has clearly put a lot of research and passion into this book. As a father and educator, Brown’s mission of helping children be the best they can be is evident in his work. The illustrations, done by Zoe Ranucci, perfectly complement the book in a way that is fun, engaging, and brings the concepts to life. Brown elegantly transitions from one concept to another, and the entire book is relevant and age-appropriate. If you want to help your children grow and develop healthy self-esteem, have your kids read What I Tell Myself FIRST every day. Nice work, Mr. Brown.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Who am I? Am I worth anything to anyone? Am I worth anything to myself? These are important issues to consider. But, before we can be worth something to others, we must feel good about ourselves, we must appreciate and respect who and what we are. We can’t all be thin and beautiful, smart and popular. But we can all be respectful of ourselves, each other and the world around us. All it takes is a little concentration and a little self-admiration. Not to be selfish, but, if I can’t appreciate myself, how can I expect others to appreciate me? Therefore, “I must be selfish before I am selfless.”

Michael A. Brown’s children’s self-help book, What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children’s Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem, is a valuable interactive guide to self-awareness and feeling good about yourself. Directed towards children, with colorful illustrations and simple language, the book challenges the young reader with key issues like appearance, self-esteem, popularity, marks, and achievements, and so much more. In a world that demands the best of everyone, it’s difficult for young people to believe in themselves as they are and accept who and what they are. The author places the reader in the book, asking the reader to name him/herself at the beginning and the end. With illustrations of all kinds of children, all sizes and colors, every child should be able to relate to the children in the illustrations and, certainly, the issues presented. A great way to encourage young readers to believe in themselves: “I am alive, alert, and able.”

Jacob R LaMar

What I Tell Myself First: Children’s Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem by Michael A. Brown is a self-help book for children based on the principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. For those who don’t know, the hierarchy of needs is a tiered pyramid with the largest and most fundamental human needs at the bottom such as water, food, warmth and rest. Its goal is for people to move up the chart until they reach the top step of self-actualization, though this book seems to focus mostly on the second-highest tier: Esteem. The book begins with a title page followed by a well-designed copyright/ dedication page and ends with an author bio and playful version of the hierarchy of needs.

Michael A. Brown’s book What I Tell Myself First is a vibrant and unique book in a class all to itself. It’s wonderful how Brown has designed this book for customization by the reader. Many of the pages have underlined spaces that are preceded by things such as I am, the truth is and a lie is so the reader can fill them in with their own beliefs. Furthermore, the author goes to great lengths in this book to keep the text personal for the reader by having dual messages targeted towards boys or girls. I loved the warm and detailed illustrations through the entire book which really helped tie it all together. Though the book didn’t have a regular rhyme scheme, the most enjoyable parts for me were when it would drift a little closer to children’s poetry. I found the kid-friendly version of Maslow’s hierarchy charming with a fun drawing of Abraham Maslow and a small biography about him for further learning. Ultimately this is a well thought out and deep book that is sure to be valuable for any child or adult that’s willing to give it a go.