Have I Ever Told You? Written by Shani King and Illustrated by Anna Horvath

Happy Spring Break! We have had a snow-filled Spring Break thus far; it’s snowed three times since I left for break last Thursday. But the house is warm, and snowy days make the best reading days.

I’m pleased to share Have I Every Told You? with you today. This children’s picture book written by Shani King and illustrated by Anna Horvath was published this past January from Tilbury House Publishers and features an ongoing conversation between an adult (presumably a parent) and a child.

The book has a Q&A format in which the narrator explains something to the child (e.g., the child “make[s] me the happiest person in the world” and then proceeds to ask, “Have I ever told you that?” This type of pattern continues, facilitating conversations between the reader and listener(s). There is a certain sweetness to this format that adult and child readers will enjoy.

The topics become a bit more weighty and less directed at the particular child in the book and more focused perhaps on the children reading the texts, as the narrator discusses respecting others, disagreeing respectfully with others, and standing up for others. This book will make a good addition to a social justice curriculum.

My hesitations around the book come not from the book’s message but rather its delivery. In my children’s literature class, we discuss that, generally speaking, contemporary children’s books are a bit less didactic than those in the past. I would have liked for the book’s agenda to be less explicit, allowing for young readers to come to the book’s message on their own. I also found the book’s length to be a bit problematic. My little guy was crawling off the couch before we finished.

I definitely think this book will have resonance with many readers and might even be a good anchor text for other texts about social justice issues. But it’s a bit too didactic and wordy for my tastes. Have I Ever Told You? earns three stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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