Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: How to Keep Your Helicopter



If you have been reading for awhile, you know that I occasionally do book reviews. In the past, I have done reviews of child development books, but today it's time for a children's book. Author Ben Greene asked me to take a look at his book, How to Keep Your Helicopter and share it with my kids.

From the title, it's a bit of a mystery as to what the story, How to Keep Your Helicopter is all about. After a few pages of reading, however, you soon realize that it's all about sharing. Great topic for a children's book! Most kids, even into elementary school, have trouble sharing at times. Sharing with siblings seems to pose an especially tricky problem, if my kids are any indication of what commonly happens.

In the story, big brother Benjamin is not keen on sharing his special toy helicopter with his little sister Sandy. Now, that's a common problem for us, isn't it? Most children have a favorite toy (or a few) that they do not like to share, even if they are otherwise good at sharing. So the mother in the story helps show Benjamin a clever way to interact with his sister that does not really involve him having to give up his helicopter. In the process, he learns to play well with his sister and everyone is happier. At the end of the story, he actually becomes more interested in playing with his sister (in this new way instructed by his mom) that he actually forgets about the helicopter. Ultimately, this poses a new sharing challenge, as Benjamin and Sandy want to both play with a new object. Luckily for the mom, there happens to be more than one of this new object so each child can play with one.

Overall, I felt the story had a good message. Learning to play with one's siblings in a way that entertains both children is a great skill to learn. This can often be difficult for the older sibling to learn, but with help from guiding parents (as shown in the book) it can be a good approach that helps solve problems with sharing and general sibling disagreements.

One aspect of the book that I did not find particularly helpful was the point at the end where the mom pulls out two objects for the kids to use during play. To me, this seemed to just undermined the whole point of the book, which was to teach about playing well when there is only one object. Parents cannot always provide multiple toys for kids so that they are not required to share.

The book is written in a kid-friendly way, that parents can appreciate too. I will say that I was not a fan of the illustrations. They are a cartoon style that kids might enjoy, but not my personal favorite style, That, however, is just a point of personally preference.

If your children have trouble sharing, this is a good book to explore with your child. It is, however, really less about sharing than about interacting with younger children in a way that lets all children play well together.  That is a useful skill for all children to learn too, but if you feel that sharing everything (even favorite toys) is an important message, then I would choose a different book.
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