Written and Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
"All beginnings are hard" (according to the Mekhilta for the Book of Exodus, chapter 18)
It is often difficult to start something new. Sometimes we dare not try, because we fear that the outcome will not be good enough. In The Dot, Amalya's drawing remains blank at the end of art class.
But we cannot succeed unless we dare start. In order to reach the goal we have set for ourselves, we must take the first step toward it. For Amalya*, the protagonist of our story, her teacher's faith in her had set her creative wheels in motion; and following this experience, she learned how to encourage others. Now she guides those around her to take one step at a time, one dot at a time.
Proposed Family Activities
You may want to discuss Amalya's "magical secret", which helped her believe in her drawing ability. What made her believe in herself, and how did she help the boy she met at the exhibition believe in his own talent? What do you think happened after the boy signed his drawing? You could try to continue the story.
This story demonstrates the power of encouraging words of reassurance. You could announce the launce of a "pep talk campaign" at home: cut out notes of various colors and sizes, and have all family members write encouraging words and phrases on them. Hang the notes in various places around the house: on the fridge; on the bathroom mirror; in your schoolbag; under your pillow… When your self-esteem drops and fear takes over, all you have to do is look up and remember that a team of cheerleaders is behind each and every one of us.
- Every painting starts with a dot
You may want to take a sheet of paper and crayons, and make a joint drawing – the parent starts with a dot, and the child adds another detail, followed by the parent, and so on. At the end of this exercise you will get a shared drawing that each of you made a small contribution towards, which began with a single dot.
- A visit to the exhibition
Every work of art, be it as small as a dot, can grow and evolve into an entire exhibition. You may enjoy taking your child to an exhibition at a gallery, theater, or museum. Perhaps you could pick a piece your child especially likes, and try to think which point the artist started from, and what they were trying to express.
Amalya's teacher tells her to "just make a mark, and see what happens". You may want to remind one another of your child's or your own achievements that once seemed impossible. How did you overcome the difficulties along the way? Did anyone encourage you to get there? You could tell your child about a person who encouraged you to believe in yourself.
Every mountain climb begins with a single step. What sort of capabilities and talents would you like to develop? Is there a member of your family who can help you get there? What are you able to teach others? Who can you encourage?
*In the original version of the story in English, the protagonist's name is Vashti. In the Hebrew version she is Amalya.
To learn more about The Dot and author Peter H. Reynolds, and for more activity ideas, please visit www.peterhreynolds.com/dot
Enjoy reading and discussing the book together!