Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Little Wood Duck

Teaching your child about tolerance and individuality is a necessary, though tricky, lesson. The theoretical "right thing to do" in actuality often finds itself taking a backseat to the reality of assimilating into "the crowd." We all desire to belong to a group identity, and sometimes we sadly believe that this means excluding others who don't measure up somehow. Kids aren't immune to the sway of the majority in the least - countless children have renounced Barbie dolls, chosen their least favorite color as their most favorite, and engaged in all manners of mischief simply because said behavior is regarded as "cool" at the moment. And the worst kind of cool is the kind that requires you to mercilessly pick on those who aren't up to par in their coolness. The wrong shoes, the wrong backpack - all things that can be mocked and made fun of until the victim is reduced to tears. Forget about a physical or mental disability - anything different from "normal" is labeled as "weird," as though one's condition at birth was entirely by choice.

Brian Wildsmith's The Little Wood Duck is unable to swim in a straight line like his brothers and sisters. He tries really hard, but he's only able to swim in circles due to unevenly sized feet. His siblings complain, his mother scolds, and all the woodland animals laugh and tease him. But it turns out that the difference that separates him from the others ends up saving him and his siblings from a hungry fox!

Being different isn't a curse. It can be a gift. It's a matter of perspective. Children aren't going to instantly have a change of attitude - that takes time - but they'll most certainly have a different outlook after reading this book. Sometimes you have to drown out the noise of those around you to really see the heart of an individual - and you may be pleasantly surprised!

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