Inspiration from Peter H. Reynolds
Discovery Museum hosted a wonderful conversation about the future of childhood last fall featuring Peter H. Reynolds, writer, storyteller, and illustrator (The Dot), and Founder of FableVision Studios and the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity. As big fan of Peter’s work, a lover of children’s books, and a former teacher, I was so excited to be in the room with Peter and to learn from him.
Peter’s powerful message was that discovery, curiosity, and making mistakes are all a part of learning—and require courage. He talked about his belief that every child—in fact every person, adults included—has something amazing inside of them, but that it can take real bravery to let that something out.
Peter’s books teach these lessons in a simple and beautiful way that children can digest. As a great many elementary school teachers do, I used Peter’s books in my Kindergarten classroom to help teach my students that everyone is an artist (The Dot, Candlewick Press, 2003); that it is perfectly ok—and in fact, good—to make mistakes, because it is how we learn (Ish, Candlewick Press, 2004); and that it’s important to use our voice to “say something” about the things we believe in (Say Something!, Scholastic, 2019).
I also used The Dot during my first Camp Gigi, on Art Day. We read the book and talked about how anyone can be an artist, and all it takes to start is a dot. The story and message of The Dot is such a simple way to get young children to feel comfortable with art and calling themselves artists. We painted lots of dots that day, and, made sure to sign them as the artists!
I find Peter to be very inspiring. His mission is to encourage everyone young and old to be brave, be our greatest selves, and develop our own voice. At the event at Discovery Museum, he rallied everyone in the room to lean on their curiosity, share their brilliant idea (he believes everyone has one!), and go write that book that we all have in us! Peter is supportive of teachers everywhere and believes in the importance of their work.
If you are not familiar with Peter’s work, I encourage you to explore his books at your library, local bookseller, or at his Blue Bunny Bookstore online and in Dedham, MA. Grab some of his wonderful and inspiring books to read to your grands—believe me, you and they will both love them!
Are you familiar with Peter’s books? What do you think of the messages Peter shares?
What other books have meaning for you and your grands?
If you do try one or more of Peter’s books to read with your grandchildren, please let me know your thoughts!