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Themes, Topics & Categories > Books About Adversity and/or Trying and Failing

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message 1: by Lisa (last edited Sep 04, 2010 10:13PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Chandra, I'll think about it. Patricia Polacco might have one or two; I'm trying to remember. Albert Einstein is famous for doing poorly in school and being behind in school and having a lack of accomplishment for a long time. I wonder if there are any children's picture books that cover his life, including his early years. I have a feeling I've read books that do address the issue of perfectionism; I will search for some.

Kirei | 346 comments "Mirette on the High Wire" comes to mind. I think. I haven't read it in a while.

message 3: by Lisa (last edited Sep 04, 2010 11:37PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Chandra, I know Polacco has others, but one good one is Mrs. Mack. It's about how when Patricia Polacco was 10 she learned to ride a horse. She loved horses but there was a learning curve in learning a new skill. So much more to this book but that was one aspect of it. ETA: sad part!!!

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments I know I've read some that pertain to music but I can't remember them and they may be for older children. too bad that Jill Krementz doesn't have a musician in her A Very Young... series ( and those books tend to be about kids who are excelling in their fields, but they still may be good books because they show the practice required to get good at something.

message 5: by Lisa (last edited Sep 05, 2010 12:09AM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments MIght be way to didactic a tactic, although you can customize your own stories, but I've used the Annie story books (Annie Stories: A Special Kind of Storytelling, More Annie Stories: Therapeutic Storytelling Techniques) to make up stories for specific issues with kids I've worked with. It's been a number of years since I did this, and you might not need the books at all, but simply be able to make up your own stories, or have Izzy make up her own stories.

There is also the book: Homemade Books to Help Kids Cope: An Easy-To-Learn Technique for Parents and Professionals.

Cheryl in CC NV (cherylllr) | 1338 comments Mod
I wonder too if it might help her to see that different people have different strengths and can make different contributions. What I mean is, since she can't be perfect in all areas, maybe she can see that being strong in just some areas is good?

I'm thinking of books like Frédéric and others by Leo Lionni. I'll try to think of other examples, too. How old is she?

I hope you don't mind another thought... - I was a perfectionist as a child, very competitive, and I survived. I think what helped me most is that my parents were not the driving force. So, I'm thinking, if you're not pressuring her, and if you're modeling the ability to accept your own mistakes and imperfections, she'll probably be ok. I'm thinking probably don't want to take violin away from her - possibly just offer something entirely different to provide balance?

I do like the idea of having her make up stories. When my son (now 14) needs to learn a lesson or work through an issue, sometimes it helps to have him imagine he's the parent and it's his son trying to become a better/ more responsible/ more honorable person.

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Cheryl, You make a good point about "if you're not pressuring her, and if you're modeling the ability to accept your own mistakes and imperfections, she'll probably be ok."

message 8: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Sep 07, 2010 12:10PM) (new)

Kathryn | 2901 comments Mod
Oooh, Chandra, I do feel for Izzy--and you! I was/am a perfectionist and, believe me, it is not always fun. But, then again, I have tried to be easier on myself and I think I am doing better as I get older. As in Cheryl's case, I put the pressure on myself and I knew that my parents would love me no matter what and be happy so long as I tried my hardest and stayed true to myself. I am sure Izzy feels the same way about you and Josh. I think it can be difficult when kids start school because there is a lot of pressure on them with grades and all these factors that start "judging" them, but I think Izzy will navigate the waters just fine with you and Josh helping her along. Good luck! :-)

As for books, I think that's a great way to help her see others who didn't succeed right away. A few I can think of, some true some fiction:

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer (true story)


If at First--probably hard to find but my mom LOVES this book!

The Bedspread is a great one to show that we all have different talents and that we tend to envy those with talents we don't possess--but what we often fail to remember is that they are often jealous of us!

Giraffes Can't Dance

Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (there's a music hook here!)

I'll try to think of more.

message 9: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 2901 comments Mod
OH! Princesses Are Not Perfect. I just read it and I think it fits the bill! ;-) It's fiction, of course, but could still be a good one to share. It's very princess-y (obviously) and girly-girl (but SMART girly-girls) so I think Izzy would like it.

Brenda | 190 comments Chandra it sounds like you are on the right track already. All of things you mentioned sound so perfect, especially just letting her know that she is loved no matter what.

Kirei | 346 comments "Ish" is a good one! And "The Dot" while you are at it!!!!

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Abigail wrote: "I'm so glad that everyone chimed in, with all these great suggestions! I've been wracking my brain, to no effect. ;) As soon as I saw some of the suggestions, though, I thought: "Oh! Of course!"

Me too.

Brenda | 190 comments I just love "Ish" and "The Dot" really cute stories that children just seem to enjoy and the messages are great.

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Chandra, I loved them both, particularly Ish.

Jenny | 297 comments I am going to have to check them out as daughter sounds like your daughter. Einstein as mentioned struggled with school. Michael Jordan was not accepted on his school's basketball team when he was in school (junior high, I believe.)

I wonder if some of it may be the age a bit as well, though. I teach second grade and I'm having parent teacher conferences today and I've had 4 parents tell me their child gets very upset when they make mistakes. My own child who is in second grade also gets very upset when she doesn't do things perfectly. Maybe some of it is the adjustment to realizing they aren't the best at everything and coping with new opportunities at school and lessons and so on while still being young and immature. Maybe she'll grow out of it somewhat...or maybe not... Sounds like you are handling it very well.

Jenny | 297 comments In my class we talk a lot about how everyone makes mistakes (including me...and I let them know when I do to prove that we all make mistakes) and that when we mess up it is a chance to learn and do better the next time. In fact, I often thank kids when they make a mistake (especially if it is a common mistake) because if they'll let me, I will use it as a teaching point for everyone and then we all get to learn. I'm careful how I go about it but for example today we were trying to write a paragraph (with a lot of support) and one student indented the first two lines instead of just the first one. I got excited and said that when I taught upper grades I often saw kids make that mistake and could I please share with the class so that we could all learn the right way to indent on the first line only. Because of the way I handle it and the enthusiasm I show, the boy who made the mistake gladly let me share his work and show how he'd made a mistake but now I knew that we'd all learn from it and that he was really helping me to teach this concept. And I really do believe that making mistakes is part of life and often a great way to learn. Anyway, I hope that a lot of it is just their age and maturity and life experience. :) After a long day of parent teacher conferences, I came home to a child who had made a mistake on her Spanish homework (she's in a dual immersion program and the Spanish is harder for her than the English) and was soooo upset about the mistake. Let's hope that they both (and all others out there) always want to be successful and try hard but also learn to cope with errors and lack of perfection!

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments It's always good to stress that nobody knows everything and that when learning something it's impossible to make progress without making mistakes; they're part of learning.

You know the saying: "Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times." Baseball is one of those great examples. The best players get on base only 1/3 of the time.

message 18: by Gundula (last edited Sep 09, 2010 07:48AM) (new)

Gundula | 1653 comments Chandra wrote: "Very good point Jenny! It very well could just be a life experience thing. At this age a lot of them just haven't failed enough to know that it will be okay.

At our school's open house my da..."

I don't like the idea of giving rockets for bad behaviour, it sounds like showing the whole class that a child has made a mistake or has misbehaved, sort of like forcing a child to put on a dunce cap (I saw an episode of Road to Avonlea where Hetty King made Felix wear a dunce cap because he made a spelling mistake, and I really hated Hetty King then, just hated her). I wonder now, Chandra, if part of the reason that your daughter is so hard on herself is because of her teacher's discipline plan. Knowing that you could receive a "rocket" for bad behaviour and/or mistakes would very likely terrify a sensitive child. It's something to think about.

Brenda | 190 comments Jenny wrote: "we mess up it is a chance to learn and do better the next time. In fact, I often thank kids when they make a mistake (especially if it is a common mistake) because if they'll let me, I will use it as a teaching point for everyone and then we all get to learn."

I really like this idea. I use it all the time with my son. I even go so far as to make a mistake and let him catch me. Goes with my philosophy of "not sweating the small stuff." I am with you Gundula on giving out rockets for not following the rules. We have a similar system as well. I certainly feel that is some of why my child is also so sensitive about being corrected or having mistakes pointed out. It is why I continue to point out so much that we all make mistakes (mom, dad, teachers etc.)

Jenny wrote: "the boy who made the mistake gladly let me share his work and show how he'd made a mistake but now I knew that we'd all learn from it and that he was really helping me to teach this concept."

Just wonderful Jenny! I hope my child gets this same feeling at school. He would be so happy knowing that despite making a mistake he could help others.

Gundula | 1653 comments Chandra, has Izzy always been a perfectionist and hard on herself, or is this something that has only started recently (or last year)?

Gundula | 1653 comments Chandra wrote: "Well, Izzy has always been what I call 'passionate' - meaning that she feels things very very deeply - from happy to sad. She was a handful as a toddler! She is one of these people who has an idea..."

I think you are blessed to have such a "passionate" child and Izzy is blessed that you allow her to express her passion.

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Chandra, I think it's wonderful you're addressing this now. I was like that too and I didn't really work on my "perfection problem" seriously until I was in my thirties. If I'd had an adult/some adults working on it with me earlier, it would have been better for me! And everyone around me. ;-)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments Chandra wrote: "probably not easy to tell the way that I always try to swoop in and fix everything with books ;-) "

Well, that is a good way. ;-)

Brenda | 190 comments BunWat wrote: "So sometimes we play a game, where the object is to do whatever it is in a manner as crazy and as silly as possible, as far away from "right" as possible. The Anti Perfect. (Because I'm his Auntie and I'm not perfect)"

I absolutely love this idea!! Thank you for sharing, I think I will give this a try when my little one gets down on himself about doing something just right. Love it.

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 961 comments BunWat, Wonderful idea! And it sounds like fun too.

Kirei | 346 comments I notice in books it is often the older child who is the serious perfectionist and the younger sibling who is the carefree, imaginative one. For example:

The Ramona and Beezus series: There's a wonderful chapter where they each have to draw a picture of an imaginary animal.
The Fudge Books by Judy Blume
My Naughty Little Sister--We just read this and ds thought it was hilarious.

Cheryl in CC NV (cherylllr) | 1338 comments Mod
BunWat wrote: "Just sharing, I have a nephew who has a tendency to be unwilling to try things for fear he wont "do them right." So sometimes we play a game, where the object is to do whatever it is in a manner a..."

Will you be my Auntie? This sounds like *so* much fun!

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Books mentioned in this topic

Mrs. Mack (other topics)
Frédéric (other topics)
Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (other topics)
The Bedspread (other topics)
If at First .. (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Albert Einstein (other topics)
Patricia Polacco (other topics)
Jill Krementz (other topics)
Leo Lionni (other topics)