Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 5
- Grade: p to k
- Reading age: 3 to 5
Encourage children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions.
Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with others. With vibrant illustrations from celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, this is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.
About the authors
Monique Gray Smith is a mixed–heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish ancestry and a proud mom of twins. Monique is an accomplished consultant, writer and international speaker. Her first novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, won the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. Monique and her family are blessed to live on Lkwungen territory in Victoria, British Columbia.
Danielle Daniel est une artiste métisse multidisciplinaire. Elle a écrit Parfois je suis un renard pour encourager son jeune fils à découvrir ses racines autochtones. Enseignante pendant de nombreuses années, Danielle travaille maintenant comme professeur d'art à temps partiel au Canada et aux États-Unis. Elle habite dans le nord de l'Ontario.
Danielle Daniel is an author and artist whose first picture book, Parfois je suis un renard, won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and was shortlisted for the First Nation Communities Read Award for aboriginal literature. A former elementary school teacher, Danielle is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing through the University of British Columbia. Danielle lives in Sudbury, Ontario.
- Commended, TD Summer Reading List
- Commended, Bank Street College Best Children's Books of the Year starred selection
- Commended, Global Read Aloud
- Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
- Commended, CCBC Best Books
- Commended, Resource Links The Year's Best
- Commended, AICL's Best Books
- Commended, Quill & Quire's kidlit and YA Books of the Year
Excerpt: You Hold Me Up (by (author) Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Danielle Daniel)
You hold me up when you comfort me
When you listen to me
When you respect me.
You hold me up
I hold you up
We hold each other up.
"Perfect for a shared storytime as well as a lap-sit reading session, the actions of each person emphasize community, togetherness, and mutual respect. While sharing is a universal concept, Daniel's illustrations bring specificity to the narrative…Just as in Smith's board book My Heart Fills with Happiness, readers will joyfully make connections between their own communities and the indigenous one depicted here."
"You Hold Me Up is a welcome addition to the ongoing conversations around healing and rebuilding relationships…Gentle, relevant and never heavy-handed, this book serves both as a quiet lullaby and a starting point for discussions on empathy, community and wellness."
Canadian Children's Book News
“A lovely meditation on compassion and respect...A strong sense of community runs through the poetic text and is warmly depicted in Daniel’s stunning watercolour paintings.”
"Ideal for early readers by themselves, for lap-sitting, or as a read-aloud."
"You Hold Me Up is a gentle but effective way to introduce the topic of Reconciliation to students of all ages."
“This colourful picture book highlights the important connections that young children make with their friends and family members.”
Canadian Teacher Magazine
"Smith's text is heartwarming! And the illustrations, by Danielle Daniel, reflect Native people in the present day. Like My Heart Fills with Happiness, this new book by Smith is one that parents, grandparents, pre-school and elementary teachers, and librarians, will want to have on their shelves."
Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature
“Warm illustrations help to expand the brief text.”
The Horn Book Online
"A seemingly simple picture book that conveys a valuable message for all ages…The distinctive and soft illustrations by Daniel enhance the positive message by Smith about the power of companionship, compassion, respect and togetherness…This quiet book has a deep beauty and a universal message. "
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award Jury
"In simple words and simple illustrations these profoundly important messages are given to children. The sparsity of the words conveys the messages even more strongly."
Youth Services Book Review
"People of all ages can find something of value within the pages of Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel's book…Smith has Cree and Lakota ancestry, while Daniel is Métis. With this book, they become quiet and understated—yet powerful—voices in an age of reconciliation. You Hold Me Up is simple, yet beautiful, subtle but thought-provoking. It contains critical messages about love, unity, and support. Through carefully chosen words and strong, colourful are, the book presents an important reminder to readers to sustain and support one another. Highly Recommended."
"You Hold Me Up is a simply written book with a powerful message: we need each other…The story is simple enough that the youngest reader can read and understand; the vocabulary is not difficult or challenging for most readers. The book is an excellent way to start dialogue with children about ways we can show respect for one another and talk about how we treat each other. This book could certainly be used in lessons on reconciliation, manners, friendships, and relationships in general. It is an excellent book to use for reading aloud and prompting students to list examples of kindness and sharing. It would be a wonderful addition to any children's library."
"Smith's text is simple, but powerful, about the small and essential ways we all support each other…Daniel's illustrations have a playful approach, but are also nicely stylized and textured, with a collage effect and fine details, warm and familiar images of people together…Smith is writing about survival and resilience, about the strength and power that comes from the love we give each other."
Pickle Me This blog
"All the words and art offer a warm and positive message. Simple and pointed phrases are printed boldly on white or pastel backgrounds...with stylized, bright, watercolor illustrations on each opposing page...cheeks with outlined, bright pink circles; other features are sweetly expressive lines of ink, sometimes including little heart for mouths. Birds, flowers, and gaily patterned wallpapers add to a feeling of contentment and communal power...Calming, positive, and serenely affirmative."
Other titles by Monique Gray Smith
Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants