Once in awhile, a children’s book comes along that’s equal parts timely and and classic, and that’s just how I’d describe the We are Shiningpenned by the late poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Gwendolyn Brooks.

It’s filled with exquisite but accessible words of hope, excitement and self-affirmation that even young children can understand and appreciate. And a message they could probably use these days, if they have a sense of some of the more troubling issues in the news lately.

Related: What did Frederick Douglass really do? This book helps them (and a few adults) find out.

We Are Shining: Very special new children's book by late poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks

Poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks' children's book We Are Shining is a joyous lesson in empathy

What’s really special to me is how Brooks’s own thoughts transform into the thoughts of a child, when accompanied by the evocative, colorful artwork of children from Coretta Scott King Award-winner Jan Spivey Gilchrist.

I bet a lot of us could even imagine our own children stating similar wishes.

I want the children to live and laugh
I want them to sit with their mothers and fathers
and have happy cocoa together. 
I do not want fire screaming up to the sky.
I do not want families killed in their doorways.
Life is for us, for the children.

I’ve always thought the most impactful children’s authors know just how to express what’s in children’s hearts and minds — however dark or hopeful, innocent or wise — and this book does it so wonderfully, I think it’s a must-have for your early reader or grade-schooler’s bookshelf.

Related: 9 lovely children’s books about the immigrant experience to help encourage more kindness and empathy

Plus, it’s a terrific opportunity to discuss complex questions that your kids may have, like what we can do about people suffering in the world; how all the children in the world may be more alike than different; and why it’s okay to feel happy even when other people are sad — and vice versa.

If you falter, the last page of the book helps sum it all up perfectly: Life is for us, and is shining. We have a right to sing.

Find We are Shining by Gwendolyn Brooks and Jan Spivey Gilchrist on pre-order now from our affiliate Amazon, or find it May 30 at your local library or your local indie bookseller.

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