4 out of 4 stars
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It can be challenging to get a child to open up to adults about their lives. Friend Or Not: A Child's Perception And A Parent's Insight by J. Reef was written to open the door for parents to have conversations with their children about their friends, and more importantly, the people they don't consider their friends.
This interactive, fill-in-the-blank book is filled with prompts like: "I like to talk to my friend ___," and "___ calls me names, and he/she is not my friend." Ideally, these questions will also encourage the child to discuss the specifics of these scenarios, helping the parent to learn more about their child's daily lives.
Friend or Not is aimed at children between the ages of seven and nine. The author recommends this book for parents, guardians, teachers, counselors, and anyone else who plays a prominent role in a child's life.
At the beginning of the book, it tells you to "circle he or she (he/she)." However, the option doesn't come into play until the author begins asking questions about antagonistic relations, which aren't until the second half of the book. I found this confusing at first and think it would be better if the option was included in all of the questions. Alternatively, given that some people are moving away from binary gender classifications, eliminating this part might be the best option; I don't think it adds too much to the conversation.
There are illustrations to accompany each question. One pair of girls and one pair of boys are shown, and they are acting out the question. I think it might be helpful to mix it up and have groups that include both girls and boys. Friends and enemies aren't always going to be the same gender as you.
I think that this book could be helpful when it comes to learning about your child's life. I believe it would have worked for me when I was 7-9 years old. However, I do think there's one potential issue. The questions about antagonistic actions always end with, "and he/she is not my friend." Sadly, we can still be friends with people who make us cry, call us names, or are mean to us. Additionally, while all of the illustrations are of children, I think it's a good idea for parents to say that adults can be included. For instance, if a teacher calls them names, wouldn't that be good to know? Of course, this book may only be focused on children, but I think it could lead to a more comprehensive look at their child's life.
Overall, I think this book could do what it promises - open the door for conversations with your child about their daily lives. It's professionally edited; I found no errors. While I think there is room for improvement, I still give this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to any adults who play a prominent role in a 7- to 9-year-old child's life.
Friend Or Not
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