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The Girl with the Brown Crayon
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The Girl with the Brown Crayon

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  474 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Once again Vivian Paley takes us into the inquiring minds and the dramatic worlds of young children learning in the kindergarten classroom.

As she enters her final year of teaching, Paley tells in this book a story of farewell and a story of self-discovery--through the thoughts and blossoming spirit of Reeny, a little girl with a fondness for the color brown and an
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Paperback, 112 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by Harvard University Press (first published January 1st 1997)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  474 ratings  ·  46 reviews


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Courtney
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for the first time 14 years ago as an education major. Now, 10 years into my teaching career, the big-hearted characters and stories of classroom inclusivity make my heart sing even more.
Sarah
Sep 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Future Educators and Early Childhood
Shelves: for-class
The girl with the brown crayon is an interesting and educational book, great for anyone interested in child development, education, or if you just want a good read. Vivian Gussin Paley gives an interesting look at both the classroom and ideas and feelings of the students inside. Paleys teaching styles along with her love for the children in her class shine through and help us to understand what it is to be a good teacher.
The book brings us in to a Kindergarten class room where Paley is
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Lindsay
Feb 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is adorable. Little 5yr old Reeny is better at finding meaning in the books of Leo Lionni then I am, but I suppose I'm not surprised, children are good like that. This short and easy read is a wonderful true account of one teacher's year in a classroom (with a curriculum focused on Lionni's books) and illustrates how children use stories to make meaning of their lives (and find meaning in books due to life experience). So cute!
Kayla
Jul 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I had to read this for my Children's Literature class and it was absolutely delightful. About a teacher (the author Vivian Paley) who spends a whole year studying Leo Lionni. My class was also asked to read Lionni's books and I have since then bought some to add to my personal collection. A good read for someone aspiring to be a teacher or work with kids.
Alex Haven
Through deep observation and recordings, Vivian Gussin Paley brings her classroom to life in the form of her book. Her different and brave choice to focus on just Leo Lionni books in her kindergarten classrooms and proves that kindergartners are capable of in depth and long periods of analyzing. During this time, Paley looks at things through the eyes of her students, Reeny in particular causes Paley to think in depth about herself and the actions in the classroom. Their journey of Leo Lionni ...more
Heidi
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teachers
This book is the story of a teacher and her interactions with her students as she makes a bold choice to only focus on books that were written by Leo Lionni. Her students respond very positively to this and start to share what they are discovering about themselves and others through the discussions concerning the books. The students bring up important topics. They talk about what it means to be a good friend and describe the kinds of friends they want to have. The students are amazing examples ...more
Madison Cullitan
I really enjoyed this book and loved how the author explain everything so well. This book was amazing to me because one child was able to influence the whole class (including the teacher) to dive into a particular author's writing pieces and try to find out what the true meaning was. The whole class became involved and were all interested and inspired as well. It was a form of engagement that lead the students to always be on their toes and excited to see what was going to be in store next. I do ...more
Destiny
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
**2.75**
Overall, I think this book hit a lot of important points in the development of children through literature in a school setting. That being said I didn't really enjoy the writing style, which personally took away some of the enjoyment for me. I really enjoyed seeing Lionni's books inspire the children.
Seb15
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5/5 stars
Alyssa Wiebenga
I found this book to be very interesting. I was surprised by all the things that some of these children were saying. I couldn't believe they were in kindergarden.
Jen
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
[3.5 stars]
Elisabeth Sepulveda
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Paley's book is the culmination of years of teaching, and her reflections--although set in a kindergarten classroom--are worth reading, with generalizable takeaways for anyone interested in education. The theme of this book supports the idea that most learning is not merely intellectual, but also largely emotional. As humans, our cognitive faculties are inseparable from our emotions, and this connectivity necessitates a deeper approach to learningone that is perceptive, reflective, and ...more
Stef Rozitis
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm surprised I didn't write a review of this earlier. I was glad I read this short memoir. At times I was tempted to think Paley was being narcissistic in writing it but then she always unfolded her thinking in a way that drew me in and showed there was more to it. The honesty and complexity was wonderful, helped me think about how I think of myself as the teacher and my own students.

I was uncomfortable with the apparent favouritism of one student, I wondered who else was in her classroom who
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Kelly
Dec 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I first read "The Girl with the Brown Crayon" eight or ten years ago, when I was still in my teacher training program. (Since then I have also read "White Teacher," "Kwanzaa and Me," and "You Can't Say You Can't Play" -- all equally valuable books.) Every time I come back to Paley's work, I am pleasantly reminded of the refreshing, lighthearted, and easy-to-read style with which she writes. Her gift, in this and all her books, is the ability to honor the complexity and wisdom of children and ...more
Kapila
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought of my good friends Qsuie and Sarah when I read this book. As adults, we are so estranged from the magical, lyrical quality of mind possessed by children (so estranged are we from ourselves). In this book, Vivian Gussin Paley reveals just a little bit of how much young children can analyze literature, social mores, and raise and debate questions of justice -- when given the chance - integrating the books they read with the experiences they share at school, as well as what they bring ...more
Susan Schuler
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this short book about Paley's last year of teaching kindergarten. The class focuses their learning on the work of one of my favorite picture book illustrators, Leo Lionni. Children are so much smarter than we give them credit for and that is well illustrated in Paley's interactions with her young, thoughtful students. This book is more than ten years old now. The focus of much is the wise beyond her years, Reeny. I wonder where she is, what she is doing with her life and if having Paley ...more
evelyn
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readin2008
reading this book made me miss teaching, then i realized that no matter how hard i tried i was never going to reach macarthur genius grant levels of teaching like paley did (literally--the woman won a macarthur grant), so i didn't feel quite so bad anymore. this is probably my favorite book of her's so far because it deals almost exclusively with her classes relationship with leo lionni, who was my favorite growing up. this is some heartwarming shit right here, people.
Stacie
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was not impressed. I'm kind of disturbed that it took this woman her entire career to discover the things she learned while conducting this experiment. What was she doing the rest of the time she was teaching? Was she simply not paying attention? It took me about one year of working with kids (not even full time) to see this sort of enthusiasm for books, and the way children could use books in their everyday life. I felt it was weak and and way too simple.
Verkiezen
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This wonderful true story of a kindergarten class that studied Leo Lionni's works in-depth really tugged my heart strings. Paley focuses on one student, Reeny, who makes a personal connection with Lionni. However, my favorite student (if you can choose a favorite from a class of adorable tiny children) is Walter, who actually made me cry at a few different points in the book. This is a must-read for anyone looking to interact with children and books in their jobs.
Amy
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite of all her books so far. She tells about her last year teaching, a girl named Reeny, and spending the whole year studying Leo Lionni books. Reeny has incredible insight and literary instinct for a kindergartener. She is also an amazing leader, and it is inspiring to read what Paley takes from the whole experience.
She and I both relate to Tico, and I also appreciate the way the books bring the class together. I've had that happen, and miss it this year.
Toby
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, professional
A quick review of Vivian Gussin Paley's last year in the classroom, which was shaped by her kindergartners identification wih Leo Lionni's books and characters. Subtitled: How children use stories to shape their lives, the book reminds us how important picture books can be in a child's development.
dirt
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the most inspiring teacher books I have read. Ms. Gussin Paley does a fantastic job of bringing you in and letting you imagine yourself as the teacher. I constantly found similarities between her students and my own. I am super excited to check out her other books, especially Bad Guys Don't Have Birthdays: Fantasy Play at Four.
SerahRose
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to SerahRose by: Sharon
This is an essential read for all early childhood educators and parents. Paley shows us how to learn from your students, embrace the individuality of students, and encourage them to learn along with you. She is respectful in every way and a wonderful writer.

Next up, The Boy Who Would be A Helicopter
Jane
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book some years ago. I still think about it when I encounter a Leo Lioni book. I loved how Vivian Paley had the strength to go with what inspired her class rather than stick to her curriculum. The richness of the experience, the depth of the discussions was amazing. A lovely tribute to the power of literature.
Meagan
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this as I love all of her books. In GWTBC Paley writes about the preservation and formation of children's ethnic identity in the kindergarten classroom. Also, an amazing example of small children's ability to really engage with literature on a thoughtful and critical level.
Lexish
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As a former teacher, I loved all the books by this author. During the times when I wasn't teaching, it was like jumping back into the classroom and being there to observe the children the author describes. Definitely recommended for those interested in teaching.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Who knows why, but I wasnt crazy about this book either. I thought I would love it, but it seemed to be a very personal account of a teachers last year, focusing especially on her encounter with one special student who led the class in a love for the books of Leo Lionni. ...more
Jeremy
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't usually read academic texts for pleasure, but this was recommended to me by a professor after I spoke with her about Leo Lionni. I must say, it is a great read if you love Leo Lionni's books, and a good one even if you don't!
Amy
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! A great read about adults being mindful of what kids can teach us! Its about a kindergarten teacher which is probaly another reason I loved it! I think it would be a great read for anyone though!
Anne
Jun 05, 2016 added it
Vivian's retelling of her teaching experiences opened my mind on how by nature students want to learn. The book gave me opportunities for self-reflection and also helped me keep an open mind with education.
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Vivian Gussin Paley is an American pre-school and kindergarten teacher, early childhood education researcher, and author.

She taught and did most of her research at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Despite her status in the field today, she has described the first thirteen years of her teaching career as being an "uninspired and
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