Three Reads on Self Esteem That Are Worth Reading
Mostly, I do not love picture books that are aimed at bolstering youngsters' self esteem. It's not that I'm opposed to a healthy self esteem in small children. It's just that I don't, as a general rule, think a book does a very good job when it addresses the issue head on. It tends to feel a bit more like an assault. A syrupy-sweet assault covered in platitudes and hollow affirmations.
Happily, there are some exceptions to my gripes in this category. These are all books I love that I think have great messages about self worth.
This book remained in heavy rotation at our house for many years, because it was one of my son's favorites. I thought of it recently, when I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal's beautiful letter in the New York Times.
This is as much a celebration of childhood as it is about self esteem. It's a permission slip to try and to fail. It is a book about sitting in that place of failing, and becoming. That is more important to developing confidence (for all of us--the grown ups included) than is any lecture on self esteem.
I have a question for you. When you were young, did you ever make up stories about the numbers while you were doing your math problems? See, I did this. All the time. They inhabited whole worlds for me. They had distinct personalities, and some of them got along better than others. That's why they combined in the ways they did. This all felt very real to me (as did all the stories I made up when I was a child). It wasn't just a story I made up about numbers. This is how the numbers were, and I was just discovering it as I got to know them and learn their properties. It didn't make doing my math very efficient, but it sure made it more interesting.
I say all of that as a warning. It may be why I think this book is so successful. Numbers with attitudes and self esteem issues? Of course. I could have told you that. Putting my own predilection for anthropomrophized numbers aside, I still think this is a great book. It is all about finding our own value, not trying to become what others are.
I love this little allegory. It's one I still read to my teenagers.
It's a story about what we're missing. And it's a story about how to become whole.
This is something I still get mixed up about as an adult. That is no small matter. It is one of the most dangerous mistakes to our self esteem, old or young.
In fact, when I'm doing something that stretches and challenges me, I just repeat in my head liftpullflopliftpullflop. You'll have to read this one to find out why.