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 Shining,¬†penned 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.