All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell

The summer after I graduated college and was preparing for my first teaching job, I met with some elementary and independent school administrator. They gave me two repeated recommendations that stuck with me throughout my ten-year teaching career: to do a Responsive Classroom “morning meeting,” and to buy, read, and share with kids Thomas Armstrong’s book You’re Smarter Than You Think: A Kid’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences. Fortunately now, there are many wonderful picture books for children that center around the idea of multiple intelligences, and today I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite— All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys.

Update: Were you super excited about All the Ways to Be Smart when I posted about it in April, but got discouraged when you realized it wasn’t readily available yet in the United States? Well, your wish has come true! As of today, September 3, 2019, All the Ways to Be Smart is now available in bookshops or on Amazon on in the United States and Canada! This is perfect timing to invest in this gem of a reminder for all kids for the new school year!

Published last October, All the Ways to Be Smart immediately caught my attention, but… It was published in Australia, our local library didn’t have it, and it was going to take a long time to order it and have it shipped… So I put it in my Amazon wishlist (my way of keeping track of books I want to read!) and waited. Then, Pat Zietlow Miller sent me Remarkably You (you can read my review here), and I remembered how much I had wanted to check this one out, too. So, I ordered it, and waited, and waited some more, and finally it came! And, let me tell you, All the Ways to Be Smart was worth the wait!

It’s bright, happy, diverse, affirming, challenging, positive, and so much more. Bell reminds us through her words that smart can be so much more than good at reading and math. And Colpoys illustrations help make Bell’s message accessible to all children.

While All the Ways to Be Smart would be an amazing addition for preschool and elementary classrooms, especially in this school climate where children worry at younger and younger ages about their performances in reading, writing, and math, but the way Bell wrote this book makes it perfect to read one on one with a child you love at home as well. She starts with,

“I can’t wait to share with you

how smart you are the whole day through.”

And finishes with,

“Every hour of every day,

we’re smart in our own special way.

And nobody will ever do…

the very same smart things as you.”


Trust me— this one is worth ordering from Australia!

If you liked this, check out:

You’re Smarter Than You Think by Thomas Armstrong

Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller

I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Diane Dillon

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