Ish

Peter H. Reynolds
Candlewick, 2004

Ramon likes to draw but after his brother criticizes his art, Ramon gets frustrated and loses interest in his art. Then his sister shows that art does not have to be perfect and introduces him to the concept of “ish”. This is a beautiful and funny story about learning that self expression is personal, unique and subjective. Our thoughts, ideas, writing, drawing, and by extension our whole living, doesn’t need to be perfect to be valuable. In fact, it’s the uniqueness and creativity of each person’s interpretations and expressions that make art and life so beautiful.

This book leads so well into a conversation about the willingness to try, the boldness of expressing one’s self, and the courage it requires to draw/play/speak/express what one sees and how one sees it. The conversation can also go in the direction of valuing ourselves. We may not be perfect at something, but it matters more that we enjoy it, that we be true to who we are than what others might think of it.

I like to follow up a conversation of this story with a video from Sesame Street that has singer Wil.I.Am singing with the Sesame Street gang a song called “What I Am”. Not only is the song catchy, but its message reinforces that we are all unique and important people….all valuable and affirmed.

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