Monday, September 14, 2009

Yes We Can! Celebrate the artist within each of us

President Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes We Can" was an inspired mantra.  Part of our role as parents and teachers is helping our children realize that they can take risks -- to try new things, to stretch and reach for goals that aren't necessarily easy.  One book that helps children see that they can do this is Peter Reynolds' The Dot.  Join me tomorrow in celebrating International Dot Day by drawing some dots of your own.  We'll be having dot pancakes for breakfast (blueberries in mine, chocolate chips in the kids)!
The Dot
by Peter H. Reynolds
MA: Candlewick Press, 2003.
ages 3 - 100
Vashti is a little girl who is convinced that she can't draw.  One day in art class, she angrily stabs the paper with her pencil and says she's done.  Her teacher quietly asks her to sign her work, her dot.  The next day, Vashti is surprised to see her work, her dot framed and hanging in a special place next to the teacher's desk.  This support encourages Vashti to try other dots - just simple dots - and to see what she can do.  By the end of the story, Vashti shows her artwork at an art show, and then turns to encourage another little kid.  It's a beautiful book that honors a child's efforts and celebrates creativity.

Peter H. Reynolds, the author and illustrator of The Dot, was a reluctant reader but an incessant doodler as a child.  In the author notes he says, "I often visit classrooms and ask who loves to draw," he says. "In kindergarten and first grade, all the hands go up. In second grade, most of the hands go up. In third grade, half the hands are up. By fourth and fifth grade, most of the hands are down, or perhaps pointing to ‘the class artist.’ It’s sad to see the artistic, creative energy slowing down, being packed away. I am convinced it’s because children learn early that there are ‘rules’ to follow. But when it comes to expressing yourself, you can invent your own rules. You can change them, you can stretch them, or you can ignore them all and dive headfirst into the unknown."

This is a beautiful book to read with your child.  It encourages me to try new things, to know that even though I'm not comfortable drawing, I love experimenting with it.  It reminds me to honor my own children's art work and to let them see me trying new things.

Help celebrate International Dot Day with your family - try something new, draw together, frame some of their artwork, eat dotty foods. Here is how you can take part. On or around September 15, read the book “The Dot” to some kids or adult kids. Then have them paint dots. Huge dots, little dots, dots without painting dots, you know how it goes. Take pictures and/or video of the dot creation (or the final project) and email them to  Best of all, have fun!


  1. The timing of this post was perfect. JJ, who has a difficult time taking risks(wonder where he gets that from?), is struggling on a few fronts. I want to order this book, but want you to get the amazon credit. If I use the link on this page will you receive credit or do I go about this another way? amy

  2. I wish I had this book when I was a kid! I loved to draw and thought I was good at it...until I got to school and saw other kids' artwork that was so much better than mine.

    Thanks for sharing about dot day! I'll do something creative to celebrate, even if I can't convince my kids to join me.