The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

The Book of Mistakes 
by Corinna Luyken
Purchased with grant funding 
for my school library

I am shamefully late to the marvelous parade that is The Book of Mistakes. Happily, a very generous opportunity gave me the chance to finally read it! Backstory: My school (actually, eleven schools in my district!) is the recipient of a Carson Reading Room grant that has doubled my annual book buying budget provided funding to purchase furniture, something I have NEVER had and the reason why I started teaching myself how to find and write grants five years ago. Spending this kind of money on books is a huge responsibility and I decided to devote a portion of the funds on developing a collection of books to support social-emotional learning, as well as a collection of books on gender identity and inclusion. It's hard to find really good picture books about emotions, mindset and coping, but I am off to a good start, especially with one as fantastically fun as The Book of Mistakes!

With sparse text, a limited, pale palette, and a superb use of white space, an amiable narrator details the mistakes - and good ideas - that bubble up when creating. A drawing of a head becomes a mistake when one eye is larger than the other. But  the glasses, "they were a good idea." Building on the drawing, and the mistakes, page by page, piece by piece, Luyken playfully builds anticipation, delivering an unforgettable reward that will live on in my imagination for years and years, much the way the jelly bean tree from Rain Makes Applesauce by Jules Scheer, illustrated by Marvin Bikeck and winner of the 1965 Caldecott Honor (see below). Honestly, I almost didn't include the image below because the excitement and surprise of discovering what the mistakes and successes become is worth every penny. However, I also wanted to show what a remarkable illustrator Luyken is! And, please know that this image is not the whole picture, either...
So, I chose The Book of Mistakes to start my collection of social-emotional-learning books and am delighted to find a genuinely wonderful picture book in its own right. That said, The Book of Mistakes does double duty. Part of our school culture is teaching kids that making mistakes is how we learn, that high quality work is achieved through several drafts, and that perseverance is an important character trait. With breezy playfulness and joy, The Big Book of Mistakes reminds kids (and adults) that the path is just as important as the destination.

Rain Makes Applesauce

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