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Teaching Acceptance Through Story Time: A Review of Parker the Purple Penguin

Picture books are a wonderful tool that parents can use to instill values in their children. Here we review a new children’s book that can be used to address prejudice in an age appropriate way.

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I recently had the privilege of previewing a soon-to-be released children’s book. Parker the Purple Penguin by Marybeth Wishart is a timely story with a two-fold message: 1) we all need to embrace who we were created to be and 2) our lives are enriched when we decide to see past our own prejudices.

Through delightful watercolor-like illustrations, we follow Parker as he tirelessly tries to be accepted by his peer group. His efforts are constantly rebuffed because of the color of his coat. You see, instead of sporting the typical black tie look of all the other penguins, Parker was born with a flamboyant leisure suit in bright purple and white. 

Parker desperately wants to be accepted but he also questions how something so simple like a color can be so divisive. There is a part of Parker that knows that he is just as strong, fast and fun as all the other penguins.

We follow Parker as he explores some of his favorite spots. Alone. There is a real sense that Parker is comfortable with who he is. He isn’t moping about because no one will play with him. He is having fun. A lot of fun. His tender heart simply wants someone to share it with.

Then one day, the loneliness gets the better of him and he decides to take matters into his own hands. You will have to read the book to find out the creative way he tries to make himself fit in, but to Parker’s  great delight, it worked! He is finally accepted. But at the climax of the story, Parker is faced with a crisis:  help someone in need or keep up his charade. He chooses the former and his heroism becomes a wake-up call for everyone involved.

We are facing particularly difficult challenges regarding racism in our country today. And there is no better time to address these issues with our children. As we have discussed before, story time is a wonderful opportunity to instill values and build character in our children. Parker the Purple Penguin is a heartwarming story that will allow you to explore this important topic a little deeper with your children. There are wonderful questions at the end of the story to help promote discussion. Here are a few more:

1) What were the reasons Parker’s “friends” didn’t want to play with him at the beginning of the story?

2) What do you think of their reasons?

3) Has there ever been a time when you have not wanted to play with someone who seemed different from you? What was different about them?

4) What did the other penguins miss out on because they initially rejected Parker as their friend?

5) How would you feel if you missed out on something fun because you decided not to play with someone who is different than you?

6) Why do you think God made people who look, speak and live differently than one another?

You can also take some time to explore what the Bible has to say about God’s perspective on differences here.

Parker the Purple Penguin will be available for purchase on December 8, 2020 from Amazon (NOT an affiliate link) and other book sellers.

Read my interview with Marybeth here.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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