Jabari Jumps is about a young African-American boy who is having lots of fun at the local outdoor pool with his father and sister. As he’s recently learned to swim, he decides that he’s now ready to make his first jump from the pool’s diving board. However, as the moment approaches, Jabari starts to procrastinate. He has a sudden urge to do a vigorous round of stretching exercises, have a little rest and let every other child in the pool go ahead of him. He even suggests that they come back tomorrow when he’s given more thought to the kind of jump he would like to do. Will some motivational advice from his father be enough to provide Jabari with the courage he needs to make his first leap into the unknown?
This is a beautifully simple story, which virtually all children will be able to relate to. Most of us have been in a position where we’ve delayed doing something due to fear, which makes Jabari a character who is easy to engage and empathise with. Adult readers will also relate to the father, who is patient, supportive and quietly encouraging. We get a great sense of Jabari’s trepidation building through the book, and the lively illustrations provide a real sense of energy and increasing excitement. The pictures are cleverly drawn from a range of perspectives, with the reassuring presence of the father in virtually every scene.
Jabari Jumps would be an excellent choice of book to use during assembly or class storytime. It provides several opportunities for children to make predictions, alongside chances to support discussion about how we overcome fear. This is an empowering story which celebrates the fact we all sometimes need to face up to our fears and comes highly recommended.
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