Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lessons in Manners

To start off the New Year on the right note, brushing off the dust from the past, and reinforcing priorities, the family felt in need of a revision of basic manners. We were looking for best ways to communicate this to the 6 and 3yo ones, for anything preachy turns them off. The local library pointed us to this collection of simple, no-nonsense books, conveying the message using monsters and animals. Both kids related to them, and I'm happy to say, are responding well.

How do Dinsoaurs series, one of which was reviewed here by Artnavy, and No, David, reviewed by Satish, are perfect starters for the young preschooler. Here are a few more for all ages.

Please Say Please - Penguin's Guide to Manners
Margery Cuyler
Will Hillenbrand
Scholastic, 2004

Looking at themselves during worst behavior is often enough
for young kids to avoid repeat offenses. Please Say Please uses this to its advantage. Seeing inappropriate behavior among cuddly, adorable animals prompts them to admonish it. Penguin has visitors; his friends Elephant, Hippo, Lion all come to dinner. The animals should barge in and knock over the unsuspecting host. They should slurp and splat all over the table. They should loudly demand seconds. Each page makes an outrageous statement like this, followed by "Is that Right?" prompting attentive listeners to shake their head in disapproval. Turn the page and a more appropriate behavior for the moment is illustrated. I was grateful to see this included -

When a lion is served cauliflower, he should say, "I hate cauliflower." Ew! Is that right?

..and the question is answered on the next page...
No that's wrong. When a lion is served cauliflower, he should say, "I'll try some." Mm, not bad!

A good set of guidelines to practice at home every day.

Excuse Me
Lisa Kopelke
Pocket Children's Books, 2004

A loud, happy burp - signature of a satisfactory meal, and of social embarassment. The title character Frog can't help himself. How could he not love food - when there was a repertoire of gourmet choices -
fly noodles, dragonfly soup, worm burgers. He loves to eat and he punctuates his meals with loud, satisfied burps, so they would make room for dessert. He is so engulfed in his eat-burp-eat routine that he doesn't notice signs of revolt from his companions. The townsfolk have had enough, and one day, vote him out. Hurt, Frog goes on to live with fellow frogs in another city who are just as happy burpers. Who never say excuse me or pardon.
Who also live in the blissful oblivion of the effect their gastronomical excess has on creatures around them. Living amongst his like, Frog sees the disgust in his own behavior, returns home reformed, but will he be forgiven? Flamboyant illustrations in earth tones paint cartoonish facial expressions of frogs in all sizes. What I liked about Excuse Me is that it does not demean the natural biological reaction that even grown-ups sometimes have little control over. Instead, it teaches a socially appropriate way to deal with the aftermath, should a burp escape you despite your best efforts.

Monster Manners
Bethany Roberts
Andrew Glass
Houghton Mifflin, 1996

Monster Manners understands that even for the most well behaved kid, it is hard, if not impossible, to adhere to a strict guideline for behavior every hour of every day, in every circumstance. While the inconsistency and monstrous behavior might make it seem like they have no manners, it is just that they sometimes forget, and sometimes they get ahead of themselves. Sometimes they don't clean up after themselves, but other times, they are so good that they make amends for it. Ridiculous comical illustrations that show monsters behaving their best and worst, brilliantly pair the text. A dining table scene, for example, shows one monster eating another's sock. Another has a monster dressed in spaghetti sauce. Both had the kids in giggles, and they nodded approvingly when they saw on the next page how the monsters had cleaned up nicely. The point conveyed is that the whole game of manners is not to enforce an unforgiving, uptight style of living, it is okay to err, as long as the intention is right, you are willing to make quick amends and learn from past mistakes. That's a lesson in life itself, I'd say!


Praba Ram said...

You have a thing for penguins, don't you? This is your third penguin one for ST!

Lion being served cauliflower...LOL!!

"A loud, happy burp - signature of a satisfactory meal, and of social embarassment." now that's such a blissful definition for a burp.

Honestly, a cluster can't get any crispier and cuter than this!

Thank you, A! :)

Anusha said...

P: thanks for remembering the first two - penguins seem to land right in our laps, how can we resist? :) hope to share more gems we've found recently

roses said...

Good post........

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