The Conquerors by David McKee is a story of a general who loves his country and who invades and conquers all the other countries. Finally there is only one small country left, and when he goes to invade, they are welcomed with warm arms instead. The soldiers and even the general himself happily learn about and learn to love their culture, and everybody goes home happy – including the people of the small country.
Pros: There are some really healthy boundaries modeled here. The soldiers are free to do as they please, and it’s acceptance not fighting that preserves the other country’s integrity.
Cons: Younger readers might not *get* it on the first pass. My 6 year old liked the story, but it’s hard to tell if he consciously understood the moral.
Overall: I love this story. It’s so much deeper than it is on the surface, and kids might not get it at first, BUT it’s exactly the kind of limbic modeling that simmers in the background of their brains and colors how they see the world.
Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges is the true story of the author’s grandmother, Ruby. She is invited to go to school as a child, and she loves it. However, she still needs to do her household learning as she is a girl. While the other girls drop out, she stays and thrives. She resents being a girl but tries to hide it from her grandfather. He comes through in the end, though, and allows her to go to the University rather than being married off.
Pros: There are great themes of perseverance and being true to yourself.
Cons: There are elements that clash with Care and Feeding mindset. Namely, Ruby is not in charge of her own life – she is at the mercy of her Grandfather’s decisions. He has ultimate power/authority over her. She feels the need to lie to him to cover up her intentions. I don’t like how they deal with boundaries and vulnerability.
Overall: This book didn’t work for me. I was looking for something that modeled personal power and got the opposite.
Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown follows Mr. Tiger who lives in a drab world of animals walking on two legs. He decides he needs something more, and starts to act truer to his tiger nature. Enough is enough, however, and his friends ask him to take his wild to the wild. He loves the idea, and goes. Soon he misses home and comes back to discover that his friends have been inspired to act just a bit more wild themselves.
Pros: This is a great story of Mr. Tiger discovering his own unique needs, and doing what it takes to get them met. In doing so, he models the same for his friends. There’s an added bonus of testing perceived limits and enforcing boundaries without shame.
Overall: I like it. I’m inspired to be myself and not care what other people think.
The Dot by Peter Reynolds is about Vashti, a girl who doesn’t know what to put on her paper in art class. She finally puts a single dot at her teacher’s suggestion and then is inspired to do a full study of dots, making them in every form she can imagine.
Pros: This book is great for breaking out of a perfectionism streak, and inviting exploration as opposed to the dichotomy of perfection vs mistakes.
Overall: Yes, please. I can use the reminder that it’s the process of discovery, not the final goal.
In The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan, Dodsworth the mouse is content with his boring life, then starts finding invitations to explore. He discovers new interests, then sets out on his own to find more.
Pros: It models great boundaries – there is no pressure to do any of the stuff, and he sticks up for his own desires. There is no problem with his current/previous life, either. No shaming. It’s a great invitation to explore and try new things.
Overall: When the book was done, it left me with an immense feeling of calm and well being.