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I still remember the first time it was pointed out to me that the things I drew did not even come close to looking like what they were supposed to be. This was absolutely intended to be a helpful observation, but for many children, whether they are told so directly or figure it out for themselves that their drawings do not look "realistic," it is the beginning of the end of drawing for them.
Why? One idea I've been told is that children's spatial perception often shifts in the later elementary years, and this causes them to begin doubting their abilities, perhaps even involving some feelings of shame once they compare their drawings to the way things "actually" look. If this is true, it is not surprising that it could have a very strong effect on one's desire to be creative, even beyond simply putting pen to paper.
This book, called Ish, is a part of Peter Reynolds' "Creatrilogy," which aims to encourage children to remain creative even when things may happen that cause them to doubt themselves.
In this story, a boy named Ramon is drawing when his older brother comes over and laughs at one of his drawings. After much frustration with trying to get things to look "right," Ramon declares that he is done. Fortunately for him, there is someone who likes his drawings as they are, and encourages him to aim for "ish" instead of perfection.
This is such an important message, not just for budding artists, but for anyone who has become too focused on perfection to risk even a small failure.
For a story about a girl who's convinced she "just can't draw," see The Dot, also by Peter Reynolds. And if you've ever wondered what is the "correct" color to paint the sky, check out Sky Color to round out the trilogy.
Author/Illustrator: Peter Reynolds
Content Advisory: None
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