A children’s book on finding joy not in perfection… but in “ish”

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Ish is a beautifully illustrated story of Ramon, who used to find joy in drawing “anytime, anything, anywhere” with abandon, but when his older brother laughed at one of his drawings, his confidence and pleasure in drawing turns into shame as he struggles to make his drawings look ‘right’, and he eventually gives up in frustration.

Ramon then finds out that his little sister has loved his discarded drawings so much she has been saving them and putting them up in her room, which allows him to see them in a different light. This opens up a world of possibilities for Ramon. In moving away from needing to get things “just right” to finding enjoyment in capturing an “ish”ness of things, he discovers that he can even draw thoughts and feelings, in addition to objects!

This book celebrates imagination and creativity, and teaches children that people and their ‘products’ do not need to be perfect to be delightful and valuable, and that the process of creating something is just as important as the product.

This story is also a good reminder to teachers and other adults who care for children on the impact their responses can have on children’s creativity, an illustration on the limiting power of criticism, or the empowerment from positive encouragement.

Here is a link to a philosophical discussion plan of this story that teachers can use with their students.