A white book cover with the title "Ish" written across the top in black cursive letters. A little boy runs across the cover holding a paintbrush.
Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds


Peter Reynolds’ style is so unique that you can instantly tell when you see one of his books on a shelf. There is something about the simple lines and colors that has always appealed to me (and I think to many children as well).

Ish tells the story of Ramon, a boy who loves to draw, until one day he loses his confidence when one of his drawings is made fun of. He suddenly becomes self-conscious of his drawings and obsessed with making them perfect, which only frustrates him further. One after another, he crumples his drawings and eventually gives up on drawing altogether. Until his younger sister shows him that she’s been saving his drawings and putting them up in her room. She helps him see that there is beauty in his imperfect pictures and he begins to draw again, no longer worried about perfection. As a perfectionist myself who dabbles in art at times, I found this book to be a helpful reminder to let go of the desire to be perfect and just enjoy the creative process, wherever it might take me. Children of all ages will appreciate the lesson in this story, and I think it is an important lesson for adults as well!

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you describe Ramon at the beginning of the story? What does he like to do?
  2. Why did Ramon stop drawing? How did he feel while he was drawing?
  3. Why do you think Ramon’s little sister saved his drawings? How did she help him become more confident with his drawing again?
  4. What do you think the author wants us to learn from this story?

Extension Activity:

Kids can often get caught up in comparing themselves to others, and the little ones can be especially hard on themselves if their fine motor skills are a little slower to develop than their peers. If your child seems to be self-conscious about their drawing or writing, use this book to give them a little confidence boost and show them that being creative is messy and imperfect, and that is a GOOD thing! To really get the most out of the lesson, have them do some drawing right after reading, while the message is still fresh in their minds.

Draw something that looks star-ish, house-ish, moon-ish- anything that’s not too complex so they aren’t immediately intimidated.

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