Regardless of how old you are, the urge to stand out or change your ways in the face of monotony can hit you at any time. In Froodle by Antoinette Portis, Little Brown Bird is tired of singing the same old song over and over again. She wants to sing something different and have fun. The other birds aren’t thrilled at first and try to get her to stay with her traditional song. Crow is indignant that the norms are being broken and everyone else is following Little Brown Bird’s example in “being silly.” Crow eventually gives in and everyone joins in on the silliness.

Sometimes It’s Ok to Break the Rules

Little Brown Bird learns that sometimes it’s ok to break the rules. Children learn to identify situations where there are legitimate grounds for breaking a rule; namely, when it “restricts the freedom to be oneself.” In the study, children were given the story of Gloria the Painter who was told by her mother never to paint. The children said she should break the rule and paint, because that’s who she was.

When making rules, parents should balance rules that shouldn’t be broken (e.g. moral rules like “don’t steal”) and times when it is ok to assert personal control. Learning personal control teaches children how to be independent and make their own decisions. Little Brown Bird wasn’t breaking the rules because she wanted to be naughty, but because she wasn’t being true to be herself. She also balances her new songs with her traditional one.

Learning to Stand Up For Oneself

Little Brown Bird is put down by Crow, who keeps telling her that her role is to only say “peep.” When Little Brown Bird stands up for herself, she doesn’t get snooty or mean. She continues to sing different tunes in hopes that Crow will see that there’s nothing wrong with sometimes singing a different tune.

Parents should teach their children to be assertive, but not aggressive. Children who learn to be assertive grow up to be adults that are mature and develop peaceful, healthy relationships. Teach by example and show your child how to respond positively in situations when they come in conflict with another.

Recommended Audience

Froodle has a simple story and easy words, ideal for preschoolers who are beginning to learn more complex language and societal rules and norms. The nonsensical words used by the birds may even elicit a giggle or two. There are some images that may go over their heads, like Dove offering an olive branch to end the disagreement, and puns like “We’ll mind our peeps and coos.” Parents themselves may get their own laughs in at the puns injected throughout the story.

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