The Power of One …

One by Otoshi borderSo often, kids (and adults) think, “I’m only one person. What difference can I make?” The power of one is deceptive. One quiet voice, one brave stance, one impassioned believer can shift the moment, the life, the course of history. Perhaps the situation is reversed for them and they are the child who needs that one friend,  that dependable adult, that supportive teacher.

How can we as parents/teachers/adults encourage this belief in the individual’s power to take a stand and help grow children willing to be “The Difference.” make a difference?

One tool resides in the brilliant book, “One” by Katherine Otoshi. In fewer than 500 words, Otoshi captures her powerful message: “It just takes one to make everyone count.”

I enjoy the play on words. In addition to the obvious meaning, that a person can “count” (be a meaningful influence,) this book also operates as a simple counting exercise. When the colors join together, one plus one becomes two, etc. The reader feels the effect of teamwork, the isolation and loneliness of facing a larger, scarier individual.

Otoshi’s bright, spare illustrations enhance her message in a succinct and easy to absorb package. This book is the perfect anti-bullying book for young children. (In fact, anyone who reads “One” will resonate with its important theme.”

“One” has received many awards (all of them merited!):

  • E.B.White Read Aloud Honor Book
  • Teacher’s Choice Award
  • Young Voices Foundation Award
  • Moonbeam Children’s Book Medalist
  • Mo’s Choice Award
  • Nautilus Gold Winner
  • IPPY Book Award
  • Hicklembee’s Book of the Year\NCIBA Best Illustrated Award
  • Reader Views Best Children’s Book
  • Flicker Tale Award

AQ* Spin:Many adopted children experience a sense of being different, of feeling like the odd one out. (Author, adopted mom, Carrie M. Goldman calls this as feeling “othered,” a complex emotion that parents need to acknowledge and assist kids in processing. Parents enjoy highlighting the similarities between themselves and their adopted children.

It is equally important that parents acknowledge the ways in which our children are different from us as well. Work to help them see their differences as enriching the family. Do encourage them to express any feelings of “otherness” without trying to minimize these feelings. Their honesty leaves them vulnerable and it invites you in to their real perception of their life experiences. By listening to all of their children’s emotions about adoption, parents become a safe harbor when they can find safety and security.

“One” offers an easy segue into conversations about their being adopted and how their friends and classmates respond to that knowledge. This is another area where parents will want to be available to hear their child’s whole story–“the good, the bad and the ugly.” Avoid the temptation to minimize; this will invalidate their expereinces and feelings. That’s not the message you want to share. We don’t want to push them into expressing only the happy thoughts and feelings about being adopted. .

I rate “One” a  starstarstarstarstar

From Follower to Leader

Seaver the Weaver

 

Humans are designed for connection. The need to belong is fundamental. All of us—adults as well as children—yearn to be liked, accepted and appreciated.  How do we help our children learn to balance that desire for inclusion with the equally important need to own their uniqueness?

Seaver the Weaver written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by the Brothers Hilts offers a great example. Seaver, the main character, is an orb spider who can’t or won’t follow the traditional round web patterns of his fellow orb spiders. Round webs are not for him. Oh no! Seaver weaves by starlight and this sparkling illumination inspires his creativity. He spins squares, triangles, and hexagons.

In the morning his efforts are revealed to his companions. They are outraged by his divergence from the traditional orb weaver patterns. The group threatens to ostracize Seaver. He’s torn between his need for acceptance and his pride in creation, not to mention the tasty morsels each of his creations manages to capture. Seaver resolves to change his independent ways. He agrees to conform after he savors his tasty meal.

Ultimately, hunger convinces the other orb weavers that they should copy Seaver’s designs. Instead of an outcast, Seaver has become a leader! His persistence and belief in himself wins over the others.

AQ* Spotlight: Seaver the Weaver offers a teachable moment for all kids but especially for adoptees. Our kids often find themselves singled out for being different —because they were adopted, or are a different race from their parents, or a different ethnicity, etc. This story segues easily into a discussion of how their differences can cause them to be isolated, humiliated or dismissed.

Ask them how “a” child might who experiences similar situations might feel. Then ask how they might handle it. Help them to see how Seaver’s differences enriched his world. But first he confronted social challenges that hurt. Ultimately, he “wins” and so can our kids.

Available on Amazon

AQ* (Adoption-attunement Quotient)