Jun 7, 2011
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
This is it! My big 100th post, so excuse me if it comes so late at night...but the decision to pick a book for this day wasn't easy. I'm so glad I rememembered this wonderful book to share with you: The Dot.
Vashti sits in her art classroom, all alone and frustrated. The class is over but her paper remains blank. Her teacher leans over Vashti's paper:
"Ah! A polar bear in a snow storm," she said.
"Very funny!" said Vashti. "I just can't draw!"
Her teacher smiled.
"Just make a mark and see where it takes you."
That's one of my favorite lines in all the picture books I've read in the last hundred days: "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." Vashti grabs a marker and with attitude makes one dot in the middle of the page. The teacher studies it carefully and asks Vashti to sign it. The following week, when Vashti returns to to the art class, she finds her little dot framed and hanging above her teacher's desk. And that's all it took...Vashti decides she can do a better dot next time, so she opens "her never-before-used set of watercolors" and begins to draw: red dots, purple dots, big dots, small dots, huge dots, she "even made a dot by not painting a dot." Vashti becomes the star of the upcoming school art show, where she notices a little boy looking up at her. "You are a great artist, I wish I could draw," he said. Vashti tells him that of course he can, but he insist that he can't even draw "a straight line with a ruler." She gives him a blank piece of paper and with a smile on her face asks him to show her. After the boy hands the paper back to her with a squiggly line drawn on it, Vashti looks at the boy and simply says "Sign it."
I adore this story. First, I love Vashti. She has spunk, attitude and a great heart. Second, as a teacher and a perpetual student, I can't help but love the message of The Dot. We, teachers and parents, have so much power in our words. It's amazing what our students and kids can accomplish if they know we believe in them, if we have high expectations for them, and always encourage them to try. Vashti's teacher knew exactly what to say and do to spark Vashti's creativity. It was one of those teachable moments that we come across everyday. Finally, I love the end of the book, that moment when Vashti pays it forward by inspiring and encouraging a new artist. I hope I can do that with my students.