As humans we have a need to fit in with those around us and conform to the norms of society. Growing up is all about trying to fit in at school, being accepted by the cool kids and not being singled out for being different. But what happens when we dare to be our true selves…
Matthew Syed wasn’t like the other kids at his school; he read The Hobbit, played table tennis and was obsessed with wearing tracksuits. Like Syed, I have found myself not really fitting in either. I started playing lawn bowls when I was fourteen. Now if you don’t know about lawn bowls, it is not the typical sport played by a teenager, you’re more likely to find a retired granny or grandad on the bowls green. I’m now thirty-nine and my hobbies include reading kids books and building things out of LEGO (and I still play lawn bowls), again perhaps not what you might think as ‘normal’ for a thirty-nine-year-old. I’d like to think I have dared to venture away from ‘normal’ and have done the things that I like without worrying about what others thought.
Dare To Be You is a celebration of individuality and uniqueness and features founders and leaders of global companies, Noble Prize winners and successful people from the world’s of sport, fashion, entertainment and politics. The one thing that all of these people have in common is that it is their differences and a willingness to stand out from the crowd that have made them who they are today.
Through personal anecdotes and details about his own journey, Syed explains to the reader that there really is no such thing as ‘normal’. What holds us back from being who really are or who we could be are our own worries. As Syed alludes to, we all have a nagging voice that makes us question our decisions. Syed refers to this voice as the character Kid Doubt. Kid Doubt wants us to fit in and be like everyone else. The problem with Kid Doubt is that we often do things we don’t want to do or don’t even like just to please Kid Doubt and to fit in.
Using real life examples and inspirational quotes and snippets from the lives of successful people including Greta Thunberg, Richard Branson, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Vincent Kompany, Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai, Syed gives children strategies and inspiration to develop the courage and confidence to be who they really are and to become their own action hero.
I was bursting with positivity after finishing this book, which I read all at once. Syed gets children to believe in themselves and be who they really are. Hammering home the message to do what they like and do not do things to impress others (Syed walked to and from school for a whole year carrying a skateboard just to try and fit in). Dare To Be You is filled with these kind of humorous anecdotes and Syed’s witty self-reflections, and this is what it makes it so appealing to the reader. Syed has had plenty of mishaps on his attempts to fit in - nearly burning down a bakery, a fashion disaster, and trying to imitate Kevin Keegan to name a few. His life became much more simpler and rewarding when he began following his own path. And a very successful path it has been - he has even made it to the Olympics (something that he might remind you of on more than one occasion in the book).
This book isn’t about following the same path as Syed though. Syed wants readers to find their own path and create their own manifesto for daring to be themselves. Through his coaching and informative writing, readers should be left with the feeling that anything is possible and that it all starts with them being themselves and silencing Kid Doubt.
The book is written over nine chapters and is full of practical advice, real-life examples and thought-provoking ideas and questions. An over to you section at the end of each chapter asks readers to reflect and complete a task. The layout is slick and modern featuring quotes, speech bubbles and black and orange illustrations. Dare To Be You is due to be published on 3rd September 2020.
Inspirational reading for both girls and boys and for getting them to love who they really are.
Recommended for 8+.
With thanks to Hachette Children’s Group and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy.