Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review - D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners

D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners
My kids all love the Arthur characters - books and videos. Does anyone know, by the way, what kind of animal Arthur et al. are supposed to be? Just curious...if you know please leave it in a comment, because I haven't the foggiest. We had lots of rainy days this past winter and at our school the policy on rainy days is that the kids go to the library to watch a video during lunch recess. This is where the child learned about Arthur, and she has been hooked ever since. The twins also like him, so that's a bonus. It's always nice when we can find something to agree on.D.W, in case you don't know, is Arthur's little sister.

We found D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners at the library, and although it was my little girl who picked it off the shelf, the child has also enjoyed reading it a few times. It is at just the right reading level for her (mid-1st grade), so that's a plus.There's something about finding a book with a character your child loves that also has a message that you as a parent love. It's a magical combination, and I think it is found in this little gem. The illustrations are typical Marc Brown - colorful and just enough detail to keep things interesting without being too overwhelming. The book follows D.W. through her day as she tries to have "perfect" manners. Everything from self care (washing, tooth brushing, wearing clean clothes, and combing your hair) to table manners and social skills is covered in a straightforward manner. Most of the manners are presented as positives (Do this...) rather than negatives (Don't do that...) but some negatives slip in. I know from personal experience how hard it is to put everything as a positive, but I think it is easier for young children and those with learning differences to hear what they should do. This is the one thing I am disappointed by in this book. The other thing I would probably clarify for a child is that the book talks about being "perfect" by which it means having good manners - it does not mean that the child can't make mistakes. This could be addressed on the page where D.W. says "Perfect people say 'I'm sorry' if they mess up or if they hurt someone..." Clearly (to me) the perfection here is in knowing that if you make a mistake you apologize, not that you won't make a mistake at all. Still for children it might be confusing to talk about being a "perfect" person. In fact, we have taught the child that the only Perfect Person is Jesus. I am pleased that the Arthur products include constructive interactions with adult characters. I've noticed a trend lately where children's shows and books seem to put the child character out there on their own to handle whatever conflict comes their way. It's nice to see a more realistic interaction where parents are a valuable and encouraging resource for their children.

Overall this book is a sweet way to reinforce good manners for your child, especially if they are attracted to these characters anyway.


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