Monday, September 8, 2014

Picture Book Review - It's Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr

So I alluded to it a couple of posts back, but it's official - Sprout has started kindergarten and he loooooves it. Like seriously crazy loves it. In fact this morning he bounded out of bed just a little after 5 a.m. and got dressed and ready without any prompting. Win! As you might imagine, this transition is one of mixed feelings for Hubs and I, but seeing our son so enthused about his class and his teachers definitely helps.

Of course, there's a lot Sprout has to learn about school, and I don't just mean the academic part of it. He's a hard working kid, very dedicated but also leaning toward perfectionism. And so tonight's book came along at just the right time and was one I figured we'd better get read ASAP -- It's Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr. (To be honest, this is one I wish had been around when I was little, because it's a message I sorely needed to hear - then and now!)

If you've ever read a Todd Parr book, you know what you're in for here -- important messages delivered in a simply charming title that will win over adults and children alike. (If you haven't read a Todd Parr title - why the heck not?? He's awesome!) Parr's books aren't so much narrative-driven as they are message-driven, but don't let that put you off. He's managed once again to create situations to illustrate his points that are funny and believable, and present the theme in an accessible way. Kids love the simple drawings and the palette of primary colors, plus all the silly touches. A pink horse? A skunk wearing socks? Whyever not. . . it's a Todd Parr world!

I love the way It's Okay to Make Mistakes can be used both as a tool to reassure kids and to help them develop empathy. In this title, each spread shows something going a bit wonky, like a fish swimming the opposite direction or a girl falling from her horse. Some readers might be in the place where they need to hear "it's okay to be shy" because they are introverted themselves, while others might need to hear it because there's someone in school who seems quieter than the other students. Parr's scenarios work both as windows and mirrors in that sense, and making this a perfect choice for teachers to use at the beginning of school, when kids are just learning about one another.

My favorite part, and Sprout's too, comes right at the end, where Parr's illustration of a line of monkeys, with one upside down, is captioned "Everyone has 'uh-oh' moments. That's how you learn!". This is a message we've tried to teach Sprout, but somehow I know that he's going to take it to heart not so much because of what we've said, but because of the fun way he learned it, thanks once again to the fantastic Todd Parr!

It's Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr, published by Little, Brown and Company
Ages 2-6
Source: Library
Sample: "It's okay if you are clumsy. You might invent a new move."

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