Let's face it – as parents we tend to push our kids to succeed. Nothing wrong with that, except that it seems we expecting more and more from them at a younger and younger age - even in my own family where I try to compliment the effort rather than the outcome, my youngest has turned into a perfectionist: a ten minute homework assignment turns into a twenty-minute ordeal; Lego buildings are knocked down because they aren’t just right, drawings are crumbled because they aren’t good enough.
But what’s wrong with OK? The OK Book written by bestselling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld celebrates the wonderful 'OK-ness' of simply trying new things, without the expectation of perfection.
"I like to try a lot of different things” the stark stick figure explains – the head is the ‘O’ and the body is the 'K' - "I'm not great at all of them, but I enjoy them just the same." He's an OK skipper, an OK climber, an OK diver, and an OK hider; an OK sledder and an OK kite flyer. The illustrations are sparse, but absolutely effective, as we watch the stick figure trying all these different activities, and happily not doing them one hundred percent perfectly – he’s bouncing off the sled, the kite is stuck in a tree, he’s hanging off a tree branch. But this blissful attitude is refreshing. Shouldn’t childhood be about trying, rather than succeeding? How can a young child know what they are good at without attempting new things daily? OK reminds us that being OK is OK. Kids don’t need to be perfect; they don’t need to excel at every sport or to master every task – they just need to keep that indistinguishable thirst to try and try again.
And so OK indeed does continue to try - so what if he’s an OK marshmallow roaster – half the fun is watching the marshmallow catch on fire; so what if he’s an OK left field – its just pure fun to be part of a team and learning the rules of the game; so what if he’s just an OK pancake flipper – it sure is darn funny that the pancake landed on his head!
Mr. OK is a lot smarter than many parents I know (myself included, I think). And as the story ends, the wise stick figure says, "One day I’ll grow up to be really excellent at something. I don’t know what it is yet…but I’m sure having fun figuring it out."
What a great perspective, and what a great lesson.
The OK Book
Written By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Published by Harper Collins
A picture book for all ages!
Reviewed by Jenny Tananbaum