A picture-book encapsulation of the author’s Push Through education movement.
An extensive author’s note explains that Wright came up with the “words and hand movements of the original Push Through mantra” as a teacher endeavoring to explain what “resilient” means. She says she “wanted [her students] to know that their past doesn’t define them, their present doesn’t have to hinder them, and their future is waiting on them.” While readers may find strength in this affirmation, they may also note it seems wholly reliant on individual perseverance rather than systemic change to dismantle oppression. The primary narrative opens with the statement “YOU can push through anything!” while illustrator Wright depicts a young brown-skinned child in profile, hair in beaded braids, and looking determined. The next spread shows the same child with hands over ears against discouraging comments and then smiling and looking out at readers, hands extended to say, “I’m gonna push through!” Ensuing pages show children of different races, genders, and abilities all repeating the “push through” mantra in the face of adversity. Also depicted are diverse famous people (bios in the backmatter) who’ve “pushed through” to meet success, including President Barack Obama, activist LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, and physicist Stephen Hawking.
It’s encouraging—but not revolutionary in its call for individual grit rather than collective change. (Picture book. 5-9)