Earlier this month I watched Jamie Lee Curtis get interviewed on “The Today Show.” She was promoting her new book, My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs and High Fives, that was illustrated by Laura Cornell. When Natalie Morales asked her why she wrote a book about firsts, she said:
You ask children to try new things every day yet we don’t do anything new. Every single day asking a child to face a fear, reach a new boundary, try new food, try new activity. Come on, try it you’ll like it. Yet we as adults don’t. So it’s a book about trying new things for children, being brave. Yet, as adults, I hope the message is we have to practice what we preach.
Her answer has stuck with me as I have walked through life for the past two and a half weeks. Each and every day, I’m constantly requesting for my daughter to try something new. I’m putting lots of demands on Isabelle to step out of her comfort zone these days. We started a parent/child program, I’m pushing her to try walking down the stairs more and more, I’m trying to get her to babble rather than make sounds when she reads books, I’m coaxing her to go down larger slides, and so much more. But what new things am I doing? How am I stepping out of my comfort zone? Am I trying new things as I push her to have more and more firsts?
A review copy of My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs and High Fives arrived in yesterday’s mail. I smiled as I read through the book, knowing it is the kind of text that can and should be read to kids as they are about to take on something new. Kids need to know that sometimes they’ll succeed and sometimes they’ll fail. Either one is okay as long as they have tried their best and have approached a situation with honesty and integrity.
In addition to loving the theme of this book, I know it’s the kind of book teachers of writing can and should use with their students to mentor kids to write about their first times, which is often the focus of so many small moment stories and personal narratives kids write during the first months of school. Hence, I will be reviewing this book on Two Writing Teachers in October. That post will focus on the ways this book can be used in writing workshop.
Getting back to my read-through of My Brave Year of Firsts… I began to think about the firsts I’m having these days. I am having a bunch of firsts with Isabelle, but I’m also having some firsts myself. However, my firsts don’t seem as monumental as forming words or learning how to run in a circle while keeping my balance (that one is amusing to watch). This book, along with Jamie Lee Curtis’s interview, made me think that if I want to be the kind of parent who models bravery and courage for my daughter every day, then it’s up to me to try more new things. I’m not sure what kinds of new things I will try in the year ahead, but now that I’ve made a public commitment to stepping out of my comfort zone, I know I will be more intentional about the firsts I experience.