Today I’m so happy to share with you a guest post by writer, teacher, and speaker Jena Ball! Jena’s book, The Not Perfect Hat Club, is a wonderful tool to help children understand that everyone is different and that learning new skills and trying new things doesn’t mean they’re going to be great at it right away- and that’s ok! Her book is an easy-ready chapter book perfect for elementary aged children. Whether your child likes animals, sports, poetry, or music there is something in this book for everyone!
The Not Perfect Hat Club – Debunking the Myth of Perfection
“What identifies us as human beings above all are the powers that flow from our deep resource of imagination – creativity and empathy.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Three years ago, while sipping a Grande Americano at my favorite table at my favorite Starbucks the word “CritterKin” popped into my head. As a writer, words pop in and out of my head all the time, but this one stuck. I liked the meaning – animals (critters) are family (kin) – and the childlike, playful sound it made as I whispered it aloud to myself. Here was a word that had lots to say, and I could hardly wait to get started.
Writing each of the four books in the CritterKin series has been a conscious act of kindness, but the most intriguing and challenging was The Not Perfect Hat Club (NPHC) As the title implies, NPHC is a story about the myth of perfection. It chronicles the adventures of three recovering perfectionists – a golden retriever who is a dismal failure in the show ring, a young violinist who wants to be the next Mozart, and a test-phobic poet who rides his skateboard everywhere. Together, with the help of some caring adults and an eccentric cast of canines, crows and a bossy bully, they discover that no one is perfect and mistakes are stepping stones to discovery.
Watching children read and tackle the themes in the book has been rewarding and revealing. Like Newton, whose innocent mistake turns into a BIG problem, they understand how tough consequences can be. Likewise they are charmed by the elderly Midge, whose grumpy personality hides a heart of gold, and are indignant when a bully teases Newton. But most gratifying of all has been watching children in different parts of the world share opinions and work together on creative projects related to the book. It turns out that seventh graders in Mumbai wrestle with the same self-doubts and questions as second graders in Sydney, fifth graders in Buenos Aires, first graders in Hong Kong, sixth graders in Athens and third graders in Iowa. Whatever their age or grade, kids everywhere get it – you can only be perfect at being yourself.
Which brings me to an unforeseen and humbling result of publishing The Not Perfect Hat Club – the reactions of parents. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from a mom or dad or grandparent thanking me for writing the book. They thank me not only for their children, but for themselves as well. Like me, most adults went through a school system that rewarded memorization and test taking. There was one right way and one right answer to everything, and everyone was expected to learn the same thing on the same schedule. Little or no attention was paid to social-emotional skills and those with learning differences were seen as flawed. This hyper-competitive, anxiety inducing system produced adults who had lost touch with their creativity and were afraid to task risks for fear of failure.
These days, I proudly call myself a recovering perfectionist, and encourage any parent reading this blog to join me. Yes, The Not Perfect Hat Club is a children’s book, but it’s a rollicking fun read and its themes speak to people of all ages. So grab yourself a copy, visit the website, send me an email, invite me to visit your children’s schools or to speak at your organization or company. Let’s debunk the myth of perfection and give every kid, teacher and parent a place to hang a hat!
1. Buy the book: http://bit.ly/2bSlOha
2.Book reviews: http://notperfecthatclub.com/reviews/
- Examples of Global Engagement: http://notperfecthatclub.com/nphcblogit/blogit-results/
- Programs: http://notperfecthatclub.com/programs-and-fees/
- Speaking: http://jenaball.com/speaking/
Jena is a writer, illustrator, and public speaker with more than 25 years experience creating multimedia stories designed to capture the imagination. Most recently, she has embarked on a global campaign to debunk the myth of perfection. She offers author readings, virtual classroom visits, workshops and keynotes focused on helping people of all ages recover from the perfectionist mindset, and ignite their creativity. Her work is based on lessons learned in the classroom, working with hundreds of students and teachers around the world, and cutting edge neuroscientific research.
For more information, contact Jena at: JenaBall@CritterKin.com or call (919) 454 -9917