Sunday, September 30, 2018

Welcome in Fall with a Good Book - Fantastic Failures: True Stories of People Who Changed the World by Falling Down First (Beyond Words Publishing/Aladdinn) (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

When I first heard about this book, I was excited to get my hands on a review copy to share with my girls.  It seems like nowadays kids are always pushing themselves to be the best and not fail at things.  Even things like being on a winning sports team, or scoring a perfect score on a test will stress a child out and put a lot of unnecessary stress on the, which in turn can make them sick or make them feel worthless.  I can't go on social media without seeing a daily post of a child who has taken their own life because of bullying or feeling inadequate. And, more and more kids are running away, and it makes you wonder why?

We unwillingly put a lot of pressure on kids and have expectations for them, as can be seen in schools nowadays.  Children in early elementary grades are required to be reading by the end of kindergarten and doing multiplication and division by second grade.  It is crazy...we aren't letting kids be kids, and we aren't letting them fail in order to learn that it is alright to make mistakes.  And, when kids fail, they don't have the necessary tools to move on in a positive way.  We should be teaching children that when you fail, as they will at times, that is is what you do next that counts.  They shouldn't give up, but instead brush themselves off and try again.  This book is perfect in showing kids that even famous people they learn about in school or have read about in books, have failed at things in their lives.  But, instead of giving up, they used those failures to help shape their successes and become a better person because of these failed attempts.  

I sat down and read the new Fantastic Failures: True Stories of People Who Changed the World by Falling Down First  with my girls the other day, and opened up dialogue afterwards, to let my girls know that everyone is not perfect, even though some may pretend to be; and, that failing at something doesn't define you as a person - instead, it is how you move on from that failure that is what is important.  We talked about things that the girls failed at and that made them feel bad, and the ways they worked to succeed.  While math comes easy to my youngest daughter, my oldest has recently struggled with multiplication and division.  She would get herself so stressed out that even simple math was a struggle for her, as she was feeling like she couldn't do any of it.  We took a step back and tried different ways to simplify multiplication and division, and used manipulatives as she is a hands on learning.  After a short time it was like a light bulb went on in her head and she got it.  And, I loved seeing her eyes light up and a big grin come across her face after finishing a practice test and getting a perfect score.  I reminded her that she wanted to give up and didn't think she would be able to grasp the new material we were learning.  But, by taking a step back and trying new learning techniques, and a lot of practice, she was able to grasp it...and, now she finds it fun!

What is so great about this book, is that the stories are about famous people most kids will know about -- think Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh, Rosa Parks and J.K. Rowling, just to name a few. And their stories are only a few pages each, which makes this great to assign for reading for public school children, or to read during class time, or as part of your homeschooling reading time.  There are even 100 questions in the back of the book that you can pose to children to get them talking about failure and success.

My girls really enjoyed this book, and it was nice to be able to share stories of failure of famous people we have learned about in our schooling, and how they turned those failures in success.  When kids can see others failing and it not being detrimental to their life, and how they picked themselves up and moved to find success, it reaffirms what I keep telling them -- "We are all not perfect, and failure is not the end of the world."  I highly recommend this book for teachers and parents of children, to read together and discuss the importance of failure and success.

More about this book:

"In a culture increasingly preoccupied with perfection, more than ever kids are under extreme pressure to succeed—in school, at home, among their friends—and it’s just too much! Luke Reynolds' latest book, Fantastic Failures: True Stories of People Who Changed the World by Falling Down First (978-1-58270-664-1 [HC] | 978-1-58270-665-8 [PB]) shows young readers that to fail is to be human—it’s about how you respond to your mistakes and pick yourself back up that’s the most important thing. Featuring 35 notable figures, including Katherine Johnson, Temple Grandin, John Lewis, and Christopher Reeve among many others, Fantastic Failures is a great source of inspiration for any student or young reader facing a struggle. 

In line with Common Core standards for upper elementary and lower middle school, students ages 8-12, Fantastic Failures also includes questions designed to help young readers continue to expand their understanding of failure even after they’ve finished the book—a perfect conversation starter for children and their parents when faced with daily disappointments. 

Luke Reynolds is a former middle school English teacher and currently a professor of education at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. While working with seventh graders, Reynolds noticed how often his students felt they needed to succeed right out of the gate—something he quickly realized was a huge crisis among his students as many had come to believe failure was final, which became the inspiration for Fantastic Failures. Reynolds is the author of The Looney Experiment, Surviving Middle School, Bedtime Blastoff, and more. He currently lives in York, Maine with his wife and three sons. "

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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