How LeBron James Is Championing Kids with His First Children's Book: 'I Hope They Realize They Can Do Anything'

The L.A. Lakers forward and dad of three writes from the heart in his debut picture book, I Promise, which motivates kids to value both school and play.

LeBron James and family
Photo: David Livingston/GETTY IMAGES

NBA star LeBron James is hoping to inspire kids everywhere with his debut children's book, I Promise. The title references the I Promise School, jointly opened by The LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron, Ohio, public school district in 2018. Parents caught up with James before he took off for Orlando to finish the NBA season and spoke all about the book and his favorite childhood stories.

What role has reading played in your life?

"I've always loved reading. You can learn so much from books. They can take you places you've never been, put you in situations you never considered, and help you find inspiration. Reading others' stories is what gives us perspective and opens our minds to so much possibility. When I need to disconnect or get away for a bit, I read. And I like having the books in my hand, and being able to take them with me wherever I go. Books are an irreplaceable form of learning."

I Promise book cover

What do you hope that kids take away from I Promise?

"I hope they realize they can do anything. I want them to be confident in themselves and what they're capable of. Kids just want to know someone believes in them. If we can give them confidence and hope for their future, that changes everything for them. I hope this book can be that source of inspiration and that push they need to go for their dreams."

How does the book's art help get across your message?

"Nina Mata, the illustrator, and I wanted to represent all kids so that everyone who picks up the book can see themselves. The message of believing in yourself and not being afraid to dream big is for everyone, so that was important to capture visually as well."

What were some of your favorite childhood stories?

"I grew up reading Go, Dog. Go!, The Cat in the Hat, The Giving Tree, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I read them to my kids, now 6, 13, and 15. I hope kids are still reading all of these!"

What book is most checked out of the library at the I Promise School?

"It's the book of Guinness World Records. The students are also big fans of the Goosebumps series, which I love as well."

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's September 2020 issue as "Author LeBron James on Why Reading Helps Kids Win in Life." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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