“Lost for Words” by Natalie Russell

“Lost for Words” by Natalie Russell was a quick pick at the library, that turned out to be both inspiring and sharing-worthy.

Tapir (what an original choice for the main character) and his friends had new notebooks. Giraffe felt inspired and wrote a little poem about her favorite tree. Hippo was more into short stories and wrote one with a perfect beginning and ending. Flamingo wrote song lyrics. Only Tapir could not think of anything to write about. He decided to walk away. Suddenly, as he was  watching his friends from a distance, he got an idea. He took out his pencils and started drawing. Page by page, the notebook was filling up with colors. Tapir rushed to show the drawings to his friends. They all liked what Tapir told them without using a word.

What an uplifting story and what a powerful message!

We all have talents, just not the same ones. We all have something to say, but perhaps not in the same way. Perhaps using a different medium. John has a gift of the gab, but Mike can dance his story out and Chloe will do it with a piano.  I personally love words, but I realize that others might be more expressive, touching and to the point when speaking the language of art, music or even science.

It’s a great responsibility of a parent, and even a greater privilege, to help our children discover their own ways of expressing themselves. Children have so much to say. In so many ways. We just need to activate all of our senses.

I guess I couldn’t avoid talking about parenting after all. Just like all roads lead to Rome, all picture books bring us to parenting, don’t they?

I’m Lost for Words. Parent’s Block.

As much as I like writing about parenting, this week I need a break. It might be parent’s block. I’m lost for words. And solutions. My sassy kindergartener takes every opportunity to negotiate with me basically anything. When I asked him why he never tries making deals with his dad, he said  it’s because I’m nicer. Go figure!  And then there is my cute as a bug and gross as a booger toddler, who needs to try, touch or taste anything from poop, to rocks, to any, edible or otherwise, garbage he can find in the street. I was hoping that a mild version of germ-phobia runs in our family but apparently I was wrong. How am supposed to keep my little raccoon safe now?

Before I figure that out, I have a picture book review for you. Just check my next post. Someone else was lost for words too.  

“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt

One could write a book about reading books and a dictionary on a language, but with the writing time as ‘vast’ as mine, one post per week is all I can scribble away. If I’m lucky. In other words, I’d better move on to another topic. Just to remind you, this fall I’ve been focusing on the picture books illustrating various skills that our children learn during their early schooling. The books are meant to reassure our little learners or provide teaching tools for us, parents, or teachers. So far, I’ve covered the basics of math and the first steps into the language arts. Today and in the weeks to follow, I’d like to add an artistic spin to the theme. After all, art classes are a part of every curriculum, and for a reason. Coloring, painting, drawing or sculpting are a great way to develop so many vital skills: From mastering the fine motor skills, to enhancing creativity, dabbing at art does your child lots of good. Unfortunately, many parents undermine the role of artistic exercises in their children’s education. They deem art is not serious  and not effective enough, or worry that the artsy nonsense will push children away from the more practical academics. I couldn’t disagree more.  Art is a wonderful learning/teaching medium, even though the art-based curricula are less apparent and the results harder to measure. Children love hands-on activities and pushing the limits of their imagination. Not all children will become the next Picasso and choose art as their profession (thanks goodness!), but I don’t know a child who does not engage in art-based activity. My son, for example, treats it as a scientific experiment. What will happen when two colors of paint will be mixed?  Some children use drawing to relax, some others to focus. Many children can illustrate concepts or emotions they can’t express verbally.  

“The Day the Crayons Quit” is not only an outrageously amusing book that I wish I had written. It is also an ode to drawing within the lines while thinking outside the box- a gift every child has and a skill that many grown-ups have lost for good. The book is written in a very inventive format  that helps the story to promote thinking creatively.

One day, Duncan’s crayons simply had enough. They were fed up with the way Duncan was using them and they expressed their grudges in writing. The gray crayon was tired of coloring giant animals, like whales and elephants, all by himself. The red crayon felt abused for working on holidays, coloring Santa and Valentine hearts.  The yellow and orange crayons were confused which one of them is the real color of the sun, as Duncan used both of them. The peach crayon wanted to know why he had been deprived of his wrap.  Now he was naked and stuck in the crayon box. And then the pink crayon pressed some charges against sexism. Is pink a girl color only?! Luckily, smart Duncan found a solution that pleased his loyal coloring crew greatly. What’s more, his art teacher rewarded Duncan’s creativity with A+. 

I hope other teachers and parents will follow!