In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dear Annie,

Ona as a guest blogger!  Way to go!  I love your story about Sally, Ona -- proving once again what we already know: we have yet another excellent teacher in the family.

I'm quite fond of The Dot, which Ona mentioned, and Peter Reynolds' sequel,
.  In Ish, a boy who loves to draw is ridiculed by his older brother -- "WHAT is THAT?" he laughs, pointing at Ramon's attempt to draw a vase of flowers.  This kills Ramon's joy in art: he keeps starting pictures and then crumpling them up.  He then discovers that his little sister has been rescuing the drawings, flattening them, and displaying them on her walls because she likes them.  When he tells her one drawing was supposed to be a vase, she says it's "vase-ish."  The concept of -ish frees him to enjoy his art again.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find a book by JoAnn Deak in Ona's list.  She's written two books for adults: How Girls Thrive and Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters.  She makes a point that about 80% of each gender conforms to what we think of as stereotypical boy or girl behavior -- and about 20% don't.  For every four girls whose parents say, "We gave her a truck and she gave it a name and tucked it into her doll bed," there's one who says, "Vroom vroom," and pushes it across the floor.  I find this a helpful concept in the unending debate about boy stuff/girl stuff.  (Nice piece on same here.)  She's not saying that 80% of girls want to be exclusively pink princesses, but that certain forms of play are more common in different genders.

It was so lovely to see you and your amazing daughters (who were busy building the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel with Magna-Tiles and sending cars through it) over the weekend.  And the most amazing part of all was listening to Eleanor reading books to us.  She did an excellent rendition of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, complete with inflection that would make a middle-schooler proud.  Given all the great readings she's listened to from her parents I suppose it's no surprise.  But it's certainly impressive.



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