This is a multigenerational book that promotes discussion of self-image topics around beauty and how society and advertising influences us. The story is about a little girl, Maggie, questioning her grandmother whether old things can be beautiful. Maggie sees advertisements for taking the gray out of the hair and for wrinkle creams. The ads say it will make you look young and beautiful. They talk about things that are beautiful and then things that are old and beautiful, like the patch work quilt on her lap. Maggie comes to her own conclusion on beauty and age. The intent of the story is to question whether only young and youth are beautiful. There are questions at the end that the adult can discuss with the child to encourage thinking and increase their understanding.
Sonja Lange Wendt is an award-winning author of the Cultivating Compassion in Children books series. Her books are intergenerational and address important and sometimes difficult topics with children on inclusion, acceptance, disabilities, bullying and aging. Serina and Seymour Seed kick off and end each story. Seymour and Serina are the seeds of compassion children have, but sometimes they need planting and nurturing to cultivate the best in them. Through increasing awareness, understanding and discussion, these books teach that using compassion in different situations shows kindness in the greatest way in this sometimes difficult to navigate world.
Sonja uses a variety of setting and characters from grandparents, little girl, little boy, and bugs to engage children in the stories. The settings all include nature and the outdoors. Each story ends with thought provoking questions to be asked by the adult and discussed with the child.
These books are generally fitting for children ages 4-8 but as C.S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Her books are brilliantly illustrated with vivid colors and scenery.
Can Old Be Beautiful is more than a book of seeing the beauty in old things. It prompts thoughts and questions about how advertising and social media can impact perception of ourselves that question our self worth . Self esteem issues can begin at a young age and child/teen suicides are not uncommon. We hear messages that you need to be skinny, or buff, or tall, or youthful or whatever to be beautiful and fit in. This book encourages discussion of what is beautiful and helps a child look at the beauty in the world in it's natural state whether new or old, worn or torn, colorful or dull. It's a sweet book to have your child read with grandparents or elderly friends bringing different generations together in discussion. It also make a wonderful Valentine's gift.
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Can Old Be Beautiful? (Cultivating Compassion in Children)