Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

The Children's Book Podcast

Jun 13, 2023

Lesléa Newman and Maya Christina Gonzalez share I Can Be... Me!, a joyful picture book celebration of individuality, uniqueness, and children's freedom to express themselves while engaging in whatever kinds of play they choose.


BOOK DESCRIPTION: I Can Be... Me! by Lesléa Newman and Maya Christina Gonzalez


From bestselling author Lesléa Newman -- a joyful picture book celebration of individuality, uniqueness, and children's freedom to express themselves while engaging in whatever kinds of play they choose.


I can be everything I want to be,
I can be all of magnificent me!


In this lighthearted story, a group of six, colorfully clad children exuberantly explore -- through play -- the many ways they can be themselves. They are free to embrace all kinds of activities, reveling in the fun of trying new things and discovering new ways of being. They can shoot baskets, dance around a room, weave ribbons through their hair, swim like a mermaid, and more. There is no right way or wrong way. There are no binary expectations. Children explore their individuality through whatever kinds of play appeal to them.


With lively, gender-neutral rhyming verses and fun, gender-bending images, author Lesléa Newman and illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez invite young readers into a space where creativity and acceptance are enjoyed by all, and where each child will be inspired to say, "I can be... me!"



(10:42) “I there's something you love, like Maya was talking about how much she loves art, if you love sports, if you love dance, if you love cooking, whatever it is, you can do that your whole life. And it can be a really good friend to you, whether it becomes your profession or not. But if you love something, it's great to just explore that forever.” 


(12:28) “If you had nothing to conform to and nothing to rebel against, who would you be?” Right? So if you take all those expectations away and just let your true north, I'll say again, or your authentic self emerge, who would that person be?”


(13:08) “The kids that don't fit in, the kids that are, you know, they're kind of non-conforming in multiple ways. Those are the ones that are always drawn to me and I'm always drawn to as well. And so those are the ones that stay caught in my memory.”


(14:04) “The space of the book, too, is a place where you can also release those and you can just like grow into whatever feels right to you from that deeper, authentic, more nature-based place.”


(15:23) “I always want my books to almost feel like an ongoing mural. And a lot of times my art is compared to murals because I think of that vibe.”


(20:24) “When I started seeing myself as an adult, as a part of that diversity, as a part of that power of nature, I started feeling really good. I started feeling like I belong, like this is my world. Like the woods are mine. Like the sky is mine. And that's what I want my kid to have.”


(23:15) “I just learned to assert myself and to become myself, even if it meant dis pleasing people who I really loved and who, whose approval I sought. But it was just not worth the price of not being myself.” 


(25:14) “Each of them is special and important and has a place in this world and the entire world would be incomplete without any one of them in it.”


(25:27) “If there's something that they think they're not supposed to do in the world, like a way that they're not supposed to behave, something, they're not supposed to wear something, they're not supposed to like to kind of press into that and be like, “Oh, you know what? I'm not gonna buy this, this lie this time. I'm gonna actually press into this and I'm going to play with whatever this toy is that I'm not allowed this outfit, this idea, this color.” 


And, and then tie that big back into what Lesléa was saying, is that that thing, doing that thing and listening to that part of theirself is actually nature flowing through them and reminding all of us, right, that they're part of infinity and they belong. And that, like Lesléa said, we cannot be whole without them. So, do that thing. Press in. See where you go. Cuz that's just gonna bring all of us into this greater flow of nature.” 



  1. Describe yourself using “I am…” statements. What do you notice about the things you shared? Have your grownup share a few of their own “I am…” statements. Where there any connections? 

  2. Have you ever thought about what you might do (or continue to do) as you grow up? What role or occupation might be a good fit for you, based on what you are thinking about today?

  3. What are ways that you can help others be the person they want to be, today and in the future? How can you offer support? Or, how might you yourself ask for support from others?



This podcast episode of The Children’s Book Podcast was written, edited, and produced by Matthew Winner. For a full transcript of this episode, visit


Write to me or send me a message at


Our podcast logo was created by Duke Stebbins ( 


Our music is by Podington Bear. 


Podcast hosting by Libsyn. 


You can support the show and buy me a coffee at


We are a proud member of Kids Listen, the best place to discover the best in kids podcasts. Learn more at


Fellow teachers and librarians, want a way to explore building a stronger culture of reading in our communities? In The Reading Culture podcast, Beanstack co-founder Jordan Bookey hosts conversations that dive into beloved authors' personal journeys and insights into motivating young people to read. And I am a big fan! Check out the Reading Culture Podcast with Jordan Bookey, from Beanstack. Available wherever podcasts are found.

DISCLAIMER: affiliate links provided for any book titles mentioned in the episode. support independent bookstores and also shares a small percentage of any sales made through this podcast back to me, which helps to fund production of this show.