Board Book Review: My Heart Fills with Happiness

Our tenth board book will bring joy to your heart.
And has narwhals!

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrations by Julie Flett.
Orca Books, 2016.
Board book, 24 pages.
Lexile:  AD280L  ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level: Not yet leveled.

This simple book asks us “What fills your heart with happiness?” and gives many examples of things that might make us happy.

My Heart Fills With Happiness cover resized
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett.

Julie Flett is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators.  She has a great sense of color and space.  As soon as I saw the review at AICL, I wanted this book!  Most of the libraries I work at don’t circulate board books, so this was high on my wish list, but it took a while to arrive which is why this and We Sang You Home were not in use sooner.

This book is nicely made, sturdy and glossy.  It’s on the larger end of the normal board book range, but Baby could still interact.  The older kids read this as well and enjoyed it.

The text is perfect for a parent and child, or an older and younger child to read together.  It never exceeds one sentence per two-page spread.  The title phrase repeats at a few intervals followed by “when…”  Some of the sentences are short and obvious from the context, such as “I drum.”  Others are longer and more difficult.  “I smell bannock baking in the oven” was the only culturally specific text, although all of the illustrations depict Native Americans.  The experience of waiting for a favorite food to cook are relatable to most children even if they might not have tried bannock.

My Heart Fills With Happiness p19-20 resized
Pages 19 and 20 of My Heart Fills With Happiness.

This book struck a wonderful balance of affirming the cultural context of indigenous children while appealing to a wider audience.  It makes a lovely read aloud and lends itself to engagement with even the youngest pre-readers.

I could go on, but we’re reached the ending – a scene with two narwhals and two humans.  The sun just peeks over the land, and no other people or animals can be seen.  These pages are so peaceful and mood lifting.  Highly recommended!

My Heart Fills With Happiness ending p23-24 resized
Pages 23 and 24 of My Heart Fills With Happiness.


By the way, if you are looking for Native American board books, Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature has a great list with reviews!  When I started this project, her board book list was the only diverse board book list I could find.  So far we have only purchased the Julie Flett titles off this list, however I plan to eventually add others, especially Good Morning World and Loving Me, to our diverse board book collection.

Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

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