This is one of my all-time favorite “art-story books” to 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!