Book of the Week-The Dot

adminchildren's books, confidence, crafts, creativity, peter h. reynolds, self esteem, social emotional, the dot Leave a Comment

For the last several weeks at The Meeting House our theme has been not having to be perfect.  We have read several wonderful books about this topic but my favorite has been The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  This book, and many others of his, has been part of my personal library for a while since the topic was something that I had to work on with my own daughter: when it comes to creating, there is no wrong way.

My book recommendation this week is not just for the kids I work with but also for the parents, teachers, therapists and caregivers who spend time with those kids.  Sometimes us grownups need to know how to best motivate and inspire the little ones in our lives.  We tend to get wrapped up in what is expected of kids at different stages of life and making sure our kids aren’t behind.

In The Dot, we meet a little girl named Vashti who is sitting at her desk in art class looking sadly at her blank piece of paper.  She’s feeling stuck…doesn’t know what she should be doing with that blank piece of paper and is feeling discouraged by her lack of artistic abilities.   ut is encouraged by her teacher to draw a dot on her paper “and see where it takes you”.  She angrily makes a dot on her paper and her teacher has her sign the paper.  The next time she enters the art class, she finds her picture framed and hanging on the wall for all to see.  Seeing this picture makes Vashti’s confidence soar and inspires her to take things to the next level.  She starts out small and then goes bigger and bigger.  The story ends with her encouraging a little boy who feels like he isn’t an artist just like her teacher did for her.

The Dot has many important lessons to teach children of today.  In my line of work, I have too many children who avoid trying something because they don’t feel like they will be good at it.  Or maybe they won’t try it because they are worried someone will criticize their work.   It’s not isolated to an art project…it can be trying some kind of big body activity or obstacle course, or answering a question a peer is asking because maybe they don’t know the “right” answer.  What I have learned over the years as both a therapist and a parent is that you have to gently push these kids because even though they don’t think they will be successful, I know they will be.   What I like most about The Dot is how it is Vashti’s personal story and not one that compares her to other children.  It really teaches kids of all ages about challenging yourself to be better for yourself and not to satisfy others.

Below,  you will find some questions you can ask your children and activities you can do with your children when you read The Dot.

~be sure to talk about all the different feelings Vashti is feeling throughout the book.  Have them look at her face and tell you how she is feeling at different points of the book

~ask your children what kinds of things might be hard for them and how they feel when they are presented with something new and maybe out of their comfort zone.

~in The Dot, Vashti sits there and does nothing during her art class because she doesn’t think she is a good artist.  Have a conversation with your child about what other things Vashti could have done at that time instead of avoiding the task.

~there are SO many fun dot art activities that you can be used when reading this book.  I am currently obsessed with these watercolor pencils and paints by OOLY which are perfect for  making some pretty awesome dots like Vashti.  Have your children experiment with different sizes, colors, patterns, etc..  Talk to them about how each one is different and unique and how they are all perfect in their own way.

~if you have a group of kids, you can make a dot “quilt”.  One of my favorite craft activities we have done with the kids at TMH Juniors was to give each kid a handful of squares with circles drawn on them.  We put out different materials and writing instruments for the kids to use to decorate their circles however they want.  At the end, we worked as a group to place all of the dots onto a big piece of cardboard and made a TMH Quilt.  The kids loved the final product and we loved watching them work together to create it.

~for younger children who aren’t as comfortable with using writing instruments, have them make their own dot pictures using different kinds of objects as stamps.  For example, cut a potato or an apple in half and have them dip it into paint.  You can use also use bottle caps, empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls or anything that has some kind of roundish shape.

~for older children who need encouragement to try new things, have them keep a daily dot journal.  Encourage them to make their mark on each page and write about what it is.  As the year goes on, they will see how their creativity and imagination have grown.

The Dot is a great book for all times of the year, but especially great to pull out before your child is about to start something new.  I know many teachers who begin a new school year off by reading this book and doing a variety of craft projects.  If you have any other books that focus on this topic or activities that you have done in conjunction with this book, I would love to hear from you.  I am only a click away and love hearing from all of you!

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