We have a favorite children's book around here, Little Quack, by Lauren Thompson (illustrated by Derek Anderson). This book beautifully shows the proper role of parental encouragement. Since I'm focusing on Encouragement Vs. Praise this week, I thought I'd share this cute little story with you.
In the story, the Mother Duck tells her babies that it's time for them to leave the nest and learn to swim. The babies are nervous. Mama swims out and says, "Come, little ducklings. Paddle on the water with me." When the babies reply that they're too scared, she says, "You can do it! I know you can!"
One by one, each duckling feels brave enough to try, and jumps in the water. Each duckling discovers that he can swim and that it's fun to do. Each duckling says something that shows his pride in his accomplishment, such as "Hooray for me!"
Little Quack is the last duckling into the water, and after he finally makes it, Mama says, "I always knew you could."
This is a wonderful depiction of how encouragement (as opposed to praise) can help a child feel confident in his abilities. Sometimes the role of the parent is to be nearby--close enough for reassurance, but far enough away to give the child room to achieve his goals. The story has Mama saying all the right encouraging things, and the ducklings express their pride in a first-handed way.
This story is especially meaningful to me, since I have a child (Ryan) who sometimes needs encouragement to try new things and be a bit more independent. Not every child needs such a push, but there are some who certainly do.
The only negative thing about this book is at the bottom of each "duckling made it into the water page" there is a math problem: Duckpicture + Duckpicture + Duckpicture = 3 ducks in the pond. It seems as if the creators of the book wanted to make it more "educational" so added in the whole "how many ducks are in the pond now" aspect to it. I think it really detracts from the actual value of the message of the book. For that reason, I'd give this a 4.5 out of 5.
Anyway, highly recommended for the 2 - 5 year old set (and beyond--Ryan still enjoys it). A lovely read.