The Girl with the Brown Crayon

The Girl with the Brown Crayon

by Vivian Gussin Paley
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The Girl with the Brown Crayon

Once again Vivian Paley takes us into the inquiring minds and the dramatic worlds of young children learning in the kindergarten classroom.

As she enters her final year of teaching, Paley tells in this book a story of farewell and a story of self-discovery--through the thoughts and blossoming spirit of Reeny, a little girl with a fondness for the color brown and an astonishing sense of herself. "This brown girl dancing is me," Reeny announces, as her crayoned figures flit across the classroom walls. Soon enough we are drawn into Reeny's remarkable dance of self-revelation and celebration, and into the literary turn it takes when Reeny discovers a kindred spirit in Leo Lionni--a writer of books and a teller of tales. Led by Reeny, Paley takes us on a tour through the landscape of characters created by Lionni. These characters come to dominate a whole year of discussion and debate, as the children argue the virtues and weaknesses of Lionni's creations and his themes of self-definition and an individual's place in the community.

The Girl with the Brown Crayon tells a simple personal story of a teacher and a child, interweaving the themes of race, identity, gender, and the essential human needs to create and to belong. With characteristic charm and wonder, Paley discovers how the unexplored territory unfolding before her and Reeny comes to mark the very essence of school, a common core of reference, something to ponder deeply and expand on extravagantly.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674354425
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/28/1998
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 670,189
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Vivian Gussin Paley, a former kindergarten teacher, is the winner of a MacArthur Award and of the 1998 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement given by the Before Columbus Foundation.

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The Girl with the Brown Crayon 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
StacieRosePittard More than 1 year ago
I was not impressed. I'm kind of disturbed that it took this woman her entire career to discover the things she learned while conducting this experiment. What was she doing the rest of the time she was teaching? Was she simply not paying attention? It took me about one year of working with kids (not even full time) to see this sort of enthusiasm for books, and the way children could use books in their everyday life. I felt it was weak and and way too simple.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Girl with the Brown Crayon Vivian Gussin Paley Review by K. Winick-Ford I am inspired and amazed- such a treasure to American literature, Paley shares her numerous years as a kindergarten teacher with her unique insight. She is insightful, being mindful of her students, their needs and the changes our society is facing. Although all her stories are wonderful and easy to read, the girl with the brown crayon connects well-loved stories by a well respected author and how the class connects and adapts and evolves through the days. Too often we read about the short attention span of youngsters and their self-involvement and disconnectedness. Paley revives the soul- she shares authentic stories of her children, seeing the light they bring to our culture. My favorite quote from the book is this, ¿apparently I needed classroom after classroom of young children demanding to be heard before I could identify my own voice and imagine my own questions.¿ Pg. 43 This story, with obvious connections to racial identity is an easy read for all adults. The connections between Leo Lionni¿s books parallel What truly inspires me is how the class, as young as they are, relate to the books and the hidden messages they reveal. The book won several awards and there¿s no doubt to me, well deserved. The main character, Reeny is strong and dominate throughout the book, showing signs of great leadership. The author reveals on her birthday why she is at the school she attends rather than a more local one. The issue of race and leadership is unveiled. It reminded me not only of the racial inequalities we face each day, but also how a child will not respond internally to leadership but will react when opportunity presents itself. The issue of sexual identity is also presented and how children respond to the characters in the stories. The author explains to the children why they were written the way they were and poses an in-depth question as to whether or not they have to be male. Again, the children respond thoughtfully. Never underestimate children. As the book draws to a close, Paley tells how the children respond to emotional crisis in the classroom and in their lives. She also tells how they mature and develop. Their insightful connections to the stories they have heard and how they connect them to their lives is amazing! From the Polish boy back to Reeny, the story comes full circle. The closing is appropriate. Not only is it the end of Paley¿s school year and her teaching career, but she leaves us with the tools we may wish to use- a list of Leo Lionni books, which many must be eager to revisit. In short, this is a fantastic book that you will be a better teacher and a better person having read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Girl with the Brown Crayon is a wonderfully funny and honorable book. What this book brings to the table, is the sence that no matter what age children are they can comprehend stories. Comprehending is not the only part though, children can also apply their own thoughts as in the case with Frederick. What captured me the most about this story is the way adults seem to over look children, and almost over shelter them to the harsh reality of life. We see how a teacher in her last year of teaching has some how transformed from the learned to the learner. No longer is the class a class, but a world in which the children themselves have created to deal with tough moments, as well as the happier times. I would say, if your in the mood for a great little book, that makes you think about the world's problems in a new light, that this is your book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story, written by a teacher in her final year of teaching, tells of a Kindergarten class studying the author Leo Lionni. This class of young children makes amazing connections between Lionni's stories and real life, with the issues of friendship, race, and gender apparent throughout the book. The children are constantly aware of labels and stereotypes of other people. Paley, with her innovative teaching strategies, opens the children to a whole new world of ideas. This book is enlightening, humorous, and should be read by anyone who wishes to learn about children and how they think or who just wants to have an enjoyable reading experience.