Dare To Be You

Author: Mathew Syed

3 Hours to read

I decided to read Dare to be You with my daughter over the long summer school holidays. I was worried that she was concentrating too much on trying to fit in at school and not spending enough time being herself. With the sub-title, Defy self doubt, fearlessly follow your own path and confidently be you! I thought it might contain some useful advice.

Matthew Syed is a British journalist and author and columnist for The Times. He is also a former table tennis champion and an acclaimed speaker in the field of high performance. One of the best things about Dare to be You is I found it so funny, which was unexpected. I gained a new perspective as I was able to see the world from my daughter’s point of view.

My daughter (aged nine) enjoyed the stories about famous people and how they overcame bumps in the road. I felt a trace of nostalgia for growing up in Croydon (UK) in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The book started to serve different functions. It became a bit of a circuit breaker in the wobbly moments, sometimes a way to wind down in the evening or a pleasant alternative to the TV going on first thing in the morning (which I detest). If things were getting a bit tense, one of us would pick the book up and say “Shall we read Dare to be You?”

It’s funny, insightful and succinct. Sometimes we would read a whole chapter, sometimes a couple of pages.

At the end of each chapter, there’s an “over to you” section, which I found very useful to start conversations about what we had read. These segments would spark interesting conversations around the dinner table.

Some days I wondered if I was getting more out of the book than my daughter. Was I reading it for her or for me? It is easy to get lost in adult life and the busyness of the day with meals to prepare, laundry to be dealt with and a house to keep clean.

I really liked that Matthew Syed included a lot of successful people I had not heard of and what they had achieved. Reading about them together put a pause in our day.

Dare to be You would be suitable for boys or girls. It’s easy to read, with good illustrations. I highly recommend it to read with your child, start conversations and get used to talking about different topics. It provided a great way to make another connection with my daughter, where I was not lecturing, teaching or telling her to clean her room.

Dare to be You was a welcome relief from:

1. Tidy your room.

2. Wash your hands … with soap.

3. How was school today?

4. Turn off your lights and make your bed.

We have now bought his first book for children, You are Awesome, which won the best children’s non-fiction award in the UK in 2019 and my daughter is keen to read it together. I will keep you posted on how that one goes.