Mastering collaborative play can be difficult. Learning to share toys and work as a team towards a common goal is complicated, and the road to building the ability to play well with others can be fraught with preschool drama, heightened emotions and disastrous (from the perspective of a four-year-old) pitfalls.
Preschool teachers and caregivers of preschool-aged children often come into the library in search of books that will help their young charges achieve playdate success. The reality, of course, is that no one book will be able to make your child share her toys without a temper tantrum, or resist his temptation to smash other children’s block towers. Still, books can be a helpful part of the journey, and can provide children with positive role models.
Rex Wrecks It! is a lovely little story for sharing at a preschool or daycare because it centers on learning to play respectfully and to empathize with others while still being very fun and extremely appealing to young readers. Rex is a little dinosaur who loves to wreck things, much to the dismay of the other little critters in his preschool. No matter what the other children build or make, Rex always finds a way to destroy their creations. How will they ever learn to get along?
I do have to wonder where the grownups are in this preschool/daycare – the little critters seem to be entirely on their own, and while it’s helpful to teach young children resilience, independence and group mediation skills, it’s probably not all that fair to expect them to manage another child’s repeatedly destructive behaviour all on their own. In any of the preschools I’ve visited, a child like Rex would be supported to work through his destructive behaviour and learn healthy, positive ways to express emotions or work collaboratively. While children should be encouraged to find mutually-beneficial solutions as a team….there is a limit to any three or four year old’s abilities to compromise without external support…especially when wrecking things looks like so much fun! 😉
Still, this is a story about a dinosaur, a robot, a monster and a unicorn rabbit, so I suppose some liberties can be taken!
This story is simple with limited text that’s perfectly suited for its intended audience, and is a great choice for starting conversations with children about recognizing and respecting the needs and feelings of others, as well as inferring those needs through observation and conversation. When reading it aloud with a group I might just also add that children should always feel comfortable talking to a grownup if another child won’t respect their feelings, even after being asked nicely!
And just look at those adorable little critters! There’s a dinosaur, robot, a monster, and a unicorn rabbit – something for just about every preschooler! 😉