How to apply the best text-to-self connections with Diverse Children’s books

I Promise, by LeBron James (and illustrated by Nina Mata) is a stunning diverse children’s book! What I like the most about it is the power that is assumes each child has inside. In this post I’m going to share how wonderful and special this book is and how I would use this with my students (and kids) to apply text-to-self connections. I will be giving away a FREE writing comprehension package, so make sure to read to the end!

I Promise: A little recap of this beautiful book

Kids are born with a strong belief in themselves, with the ability to overcome obstacles and climb mountains (real and metaphorical!) .However, life is tough and if we don’t support that internal belief and continue to build it up and reaffirm its place, that belief can wither and die. Kids are resilient but we need to feed that power. LeBron’s message in I Promise does just that. The kids are promising to uphold difficult and important values. They are promising both simple small actions (read as much as I can) and big lifetime goals (to leave new places better than I came). By promising these values they are being told that they CAN uphold them. They are being told that (A) it is important to do so, and (B) it is expected that they can.

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Not only do we think they can do it, we want them to promise they will.

And the final line which suggests that really the key to keeping all these promises is the promise “to be me”

What a beautiful and powerful message. All kids have greatness inside. And what a great way to affirm that power and build it up.

No longer are we saying to our kids “I’m proud of you” – but we are saying “you should be proud of yourself!”

Text-to-Self Connections

When reading this book, one of the strategies I would use with my students is text-self-connections.

A text-to-self connection is where we encourage and support the students in finding a personal way to relate to the contents of the book.

There are many opportunities within I Promise to stop and ask everyone if they can think of times in their lives when they kept a particular promise, or times in their life when they didn’t keep that promise. It is such an easy and inviting book that brings up easy to access ideas for everyone. 

Strategies to use this book through text-to-self connections

Here is how I would use text-self-connections while reading this book: 

1. Making predictions:

I would start off by asking, “By looking at the cover, what do you think this book is going to be about?” The title is “I Promise”. Using the title as a clue, what do you think is going to happen in this book? I make sure to give kids time to think and answer. I reassure them that there are no wrong answers. 

2. Model model model:

While reading the book I make sure to stop and ask them questions like “Has this every happened to you? Have you ever had a time when someone was not so kind to you? Have you made promises to be kind to others? If so, what are they? 

3. Manipulatives & movement:

Research says that kids (and adults) should not be sitting longer than 10 minutes. Throughout the book I would give kids the opportunity to get up and/or chat with their partner beside them. For example, if I would ask “When was a time that someone did something that made you feel good? We are going to think-pair-share with the person beside you and talk about it. You have a few minutes to share. When we share, please be prepared to share your partner’s story”. I love doing activities like this! You could also use chart paper, sticky notes or white boards to share their response and/or ideas. A simple picture drawing or a sentence is a perfect way to share! 

4. Follow-up activities:

After reading the story, we could further talk about and brainstorm what we promise to ourselves. We would talk about how we need to be strong even when people may not be kind to ourselves and the best versions of ourselves is us! 

5. Writing follow-up activity:

I love pairing reading and writing. And for this, it’s even more important. Here I would do an activity like a self portrait and have students draw a picture of themselves. I like to have little mirrors on each desk so they can see what they look like. THEN I would have them write a little bit about their favourite part of them. 

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