Monday, October 6, 2008

Making a Spectacle of Yourself

I first wore glasses when I was a mere three years old. Having had a three-year-old now, I'm not sure how my mother ever kept them on me. In fact, I would guess that a lot of children have some difficulty adjusting to glasses. They are, let's face it, a sort of weird thing to have on. You see them and feel them on your face, and for someone accustomed to being unencumbered by them, not so great. Now, of course, there are extremely cute specs for little kids, far removed from the ugly plastic things of the 19mumblemumbles, but still, hard to get used to for some.

So we parents, we emphasize the need for them, we keep after them, and all the things that parents must do. But putting a positive spin on them is something that we can turn to authors for a little help with. Need some books to help put things in perspective or help the bespectacled future look a little brighter? Here you go. You're welcome.

Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses, by Amy Hest, ill. Jill Barton

Baby Duck does NOT like her new eyeglasses. she worries that they might fall off, and that they look ugly, and begins to feel sorry for herself. Grampa, who also sports specs, tests her limits and she discovers that she can do all her favourite things with them, still, AND read clearly. All good. This installment in the cute baby duck series takes the typically reassuring tone of these books, with her always-understanding Grampa making things okay. I like how he gets her. And while these books hover on the edge of too-cute, they usually come down on the right side, and certainly sit well with young kids of toddler age.

Spectacles, by Ellen Raskin

A young girl keeps seeing strange things everywhere, until her parents are sure she needs glasses. She is not convinced, but they take her to pick some anyhow, and she gets some terrific ones from the fantastic selection available. Suddenly, things look different... at least, as long as she keeps them on. This book is great fun and features Raskin's signature quirky style. It is (so sadly!) out of print, but I mention it because if you can lay hands on it, is is well worth the search. It was a favourite of this specs-sporting child, back in the day.

Glasses: Who Needs 'Em?, by Lane Smith

This frequent Jon Scieszka collaborator takes on this topic alone in a typically offbeat picture book.It treads familiar territory - coming to grips with the need for glasses and realizing they aren't so bad - but Smith adds his own brand of humour and his angular but slightly fuzzy, dark-toned illustrations. What sets this book apart from the others here is that it has, I think, much greater boy appeal than most books on the subject.

Glasses for D.W., by Marc Brown

One of the side benefits of series books is that you can use them to tackle a number of topics, and here Marc Brown uses his phenomenally successful Arthur series to talk about glasses. D.W., it seems, wants glasses just like Arthur, and is pretending she can't see. She thinks they would be cool! This is lightweight, to be sure, but the different, more positive perspective could be a nice change from all the angst that can surround them.

Robin's New Glasses, by Christine C. Jones, ill. Ji Sun Lee

When Robin goes to get her new glasses, she is nervous, and wondered if things would change. They do, in fact - for the better! She scored some cute new rims in her favourite colour, so she loves how they look. Better still, she can see everything! This is a very simple little book, but her upbeat delght with her new specs is refreshing, and the young girl herself rendered in simple line drawings that keep this cute, but not overly so.

Bumposaurus, by Penny McKinlay, ill. Britta Teckentrup

Once a dinasaur was born so near-sighted, he was named Bumposaurus for his tendency to run into things. After a series of misadventures and mistakes culminates in his nearly getting eaten by a T. Rex he mistook for his mother, his loving family decides to take action. Enter Grandma, who lets him try on her glasses and opens up a whole new world to the little reptile. Cute and sweet (but not icky sweet), this little guy shows what a difference clear sight can make.

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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