This is one of my all-time favorite “art-story booksto read to my stu­dents! Begin­ning as early as 2nd or 3rd grade for some stu­dents, per­fec­tion­ism can set in and give them the mis­taken idea that their art needs to look like a pho­to­graph in order to be “good”. Of course, these stu­dents are the minor­ity, but it’s so sad when you see this ten­dency devel­op­ing in any child, rob­bing them of the joy of cre­ativ­ity and the artis­tic process. The sooner we can con­vince them oth­er­wise, the less frus­trat­ing their art expe­ri­ences will be. The mes­sage of Ish, by Peter Reynolds, is that art is not about per­fec­tion­ism and imi­tat­ing life exactly, but rather the enjoy­ment one has in cre­at­ing art and the way their art con­nects with others.

Ish is about a boy named Ramon who loves to draw, until his older brother laughs at one of his draw­ings and says that it doesn’t look like a “real” vase of flow­ers. Ramon is so dis­cour­aged that he stops draw­ing.… until he dis­cov­ers that his sis­ter has saved all of his crum­pled draw­ings and hung them on her bed­room wall. She tells him that his vase looks “vase-ish”, which gives him a whole new way of look­ing at his draw­ings and starts him on a new adven­ture of mak­ing draw­ings that look “ish”.… “tree-ish”, “house-ish”, boat-ish”, etc. Ish is filled with charm­ing, quirky draw­ings that will inspire even your most reluc­tant artists to make “-ish” draw­ings of their own!

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7 Responses to Ish”

  1. Ms. Julie's Place March 16, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Thank you so much for this! It seems like all those rare per­fec­tion­ists all come to my classes!!!

  2. Sue March 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    What a great story. I won­der if we can hold hold of this book in Aus­tralia. I will look out for it.
    I teach junior chil­dren in in a Spe­cial School. I will come back and visit you often. I have linked your site to our vir­tual gallery. I hope that it is okay?

  3. Ms. Julie's Place March 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    As per your oil pas­tel clean up com­ment– isn’t it kind of scary how many things baby wipes can clean?
    Thanks for the tip by the way!

  4. Kristen March 21, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    I love this book! I just got it for my 20th birthday! =]

  5. Katie Gonzalez March 26, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    This is my favorite book! I even named my class Betta fish (our mas­cot) “Ish.” I read it to all my stu­dents K-5 at the begin­ning of every year. They love it, too. It has such a great mes­sage, and really sets a tone for the year. We talk about how it’s impor­tant to have an “ish atti­tude” like Ramon, and we also talk about try­ing to act like Marisol, not Leon, when talk­ing to one another about art.
    After read­ing the book, we do draw­ings for our job cards. I save all the draw­ings that they throw away (the “mess-ups”)and sur­prise them with an “Ish Gallery” the next week. The stu­dents are always sur­prised at what some­one else would throw away!

  6. Karen E April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    I love “ish”, but I also love “The Dot” by the same author. My first graders do a dot project every year.

  7. TeachKidsArt April 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    I love “The Dot”, too.… another won­der­ful book!! It’s fun to see how cre­ative kids can be with just a sim­ple (or not so sim­ple!) dot!!! :)

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