My six year old and I sat down the other day to read Rosie Revere, Engineer together. The story tells of a second grader who likes to gather up trash which she takes up into her hideaway to use in her inventions. She keeps her creations a secret because she’s been laughed at before, but when her great-great-aunt Rose (the Riveter) comes to visit she risks letting her aunt into the secret in order to try to fulfill her aunt’s dream.
It gives an opportunity to discuss who Rosie the Riveter was and about how women took over in factories when the men were away at war. There is also a page that shows sketches of different airplanes and shares details about some early women pilots. For a moment, looking at the tribute to women pilots, I wondered if my son felt left out. Did he understand why the book would celebrate women pilots? I found myself discussing with my son how there were so many rules about what women could or couldn’t do. These women are celebrated because they did what they did despite all the rules and expectations. Being female wasn’t the obstacle the women faced, it was the rules society puts on females.
The story weaves together several great themes too. It tells of taking a child’s attempts seriously, being aware of how our laughter and adult judgement can make a child scared too share their ideas. It also speaks of not giving up just because something doesn’t work the way one wants it to work.
“You did it! Hooray! It’s the perfect first try!
This great flop is over. It’s time for the next!”
I’m going to try using that image of the “perfect first try” and first tries having to be held to different standards as a reminder to a certain perfectionist I know…. and perhaps point out to him that different standards apply to different age children too. A four year old’s drawing is a perfect four-year-old drawing, even if it doesn’t meet the expectations of a nine year old.
The story reminded me to treasure my children’s inventions. I owe them a campfire sometime soon – as soon as we have some clear weather, since it has been raining on and off for days. The children were mixing up bits of flour and pencil crayon shavings together as a fire-starter, and they want to experiment with adding different other things to color flame – salt a yellow coloring, we hope, and they want to try a bit of iron filings. My kids have seen how flour thrown over a fire looks magical as the fire burns quickly in the air, and my six year old wonders if flour glued to a stick can make a sparkler. I hope to let go my adult understanding of things (other than safety issues) and simply treasure his time of inventing.
I borrowed the book from the library, but if you’d like to check it out on Amazon here is an affiliate link to the listing: Rosie Revere, Engineer.