Riley Knows He Can by Davina Hamilton

Riley Can Be Anything is the debut book from children’s author, Davina Hamilton. When I was asked to do this book review I was so excited! Being a mother of black boys I think it is so important they read books they can relate to. The front cover speaks volumes to me; a happy black boy celebrating with his hands in the air as though he’s achieved something. I love the title of the book as, straight away, it is empowering and uplifting and an affirmation in itself. I want my boys to grow up knowing they can be and do anything, and that nothing or no one will stop them. And I got all of this from just the front cover!

My son, Ahaziah, is 7 years old and was able to confidently read the book to himself and his brother. The book is written in rhyme, so has a great rhythm which I really liked and the boys enjoyed. Ahaziah said his favourite part of the book was when Riley’s cousin suggested he be a chef, as he likes to cook and eat, and he most related to the part when Riley was in school. He also really liked the part about flying in the sky! I asked him to rate the book out of 5, and he gave it 4 stars – but he said that’s only because he doesn’t like to go to the doctors. Interesting, considering he usually always wants to go to the doctors!
The illustrations in the book are beautiful and really helped Ahaziah with the story. The book also sparked a dialogue with Ahaziah, and he let me know he wanted to be a footballer when he grows up. I have never asked him about his career aspirations before, so this was a first and I appreciated how the book started that conversation.
Overall I found the book brilliant and inspiring. I have my boys participate in many activities and clubs because I think it’s important to expose them to a variety of opportunities so they can then pick what they like. I don’t want them to be restricted. Riley Can Be Anything teaches children that we don’t have to know what we want to be right now but we really can be anything!
I give the book 5 stars!

Riley knows he can is the follow up to Riley Can Be Anything. Riley is excited to star in his new school play but is nervous at the same time. His big sister Ella helps to calm his nerves by telling him to remember that he can. Ella helps him remember his lines as well as encouragement to take the stage with confidence.

The book is colourful and easy to read. It is a rhyming book which encourages my boy to guess which word may be at the end of the sentence. Ahaziah read the book to his brother fluently. At the end I asked him to tell me what the story was about. In his own words he said “The book is about a boy called Riley who is nervous about his show so his sister tells him to help him with his nerves, she tells him Riley you can do this you can.”

Riley and Ella are the main characters in this story but we are also introduced to his mum and dad and his friend Eddie.

Micaiah’s enjoyed this story. When he saw it and Ahaziah read the title he said “No, Riley Can Be Anything” He recognised Riley from the first book. His favourite part in the story is when they were playing outside because he likes to play games outside like Riley. Ahaziah’s favourite part is when Riley put on his King costume because Ahaziah likes to dress up.

The illustrations in the story are bold, colourful and relatable. I love that the book is relatable to my boys because representation matters. This book is great to read to children who have a part in a school play but also it is a great book to read to build positive affirmations. The book is very encouraging and uplifting and will help builds confidence if read regularly.

Davina Hamilton author of Riley Can Be Anything! was invited to one of my sensory Saturday events and read this book. Riley can be anything is a uplifting and powerful story about Riley who learns that if he dreams big and works hard, he can be anything. The inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up. With the help of his big cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a series of imaginative journeys that allow him to realise he can be anything he wants to be. My boys really enjoyed this story and I was delighted when Davina was available to take part in the session. The children were engaged and the story sparks conversation with children and their parents about their goals and ambitions.


You can purchase your copy on Amazon

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