Sunday, January 29, 2012

Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores

Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores, by James Howe

Age Range: 3-7

My mother-in-law, a retired schoolteacher herself, reminded me of Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores when she read it to my son. After that I quickly picked it up on Amazon. James Howe, renowned author of many wonderful children's books (most notably the Bunnicula series) wrote this classic story about three mice friends, two boys and a girl. Their story of friendship tackles the early childhood version of “When Harry Met Sally”: Can boys and girls really be friends? Although Horace, Morris and Dolores are best friends, they are each offered a chance to join gender-exclusive clubhouses.  In this tale, they learn that girls and boys can truly cross the gender divide if they have the courage to do so.

Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores addresses what can be a serious issue in both a sensitive and humorous way. Suitable for both boys and girls, it is a jumping off point to open conversations about issues of cliques, teasing and bullying amongst kids today. Relevant questions to think about with your child include:

  • Have you ever felt left out? ­
  • Do you know of anyone in your class or family who might feel left out?
  • Why do you think Dolores quit the girls’ clubhouse? Do you think that took a lot of courage for her to do that?
  • Who else does her decision influence? How does Dolores’ courage affect Chloris?

Finding ways for children to meaningfully connect to books is important in a developing reader and can deepen a child’s relationship to a story. If a child can identify a time when they personally have felt left out or perhaps they know of someone else who has (say, perhaps, because of a disability, the way they talk or the way they dress), this is a great time to have them think about what they could do to help make that person feel included.

Books like Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores can be referred to again and again in conversations with your child, especially as issues of inclusion become part of their school or after school experience. No doubt this book can become not just part of your library but also part of your child’s life.  Howe’s book can inspire your child to make the right decision the next time he or she is confronted by peer pressure.  This is the kind of conversation that can’t begin too early.

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