Discussing Prejudice and Self-Esteem With a Young Child – One Author’s Approach
In The Adventures of Seamus the Sheltie, friendly and humorous animals are used to create a safe and non-threatening framework to present common issues that children encounter. A Sheltie (Seamus) is the main character who often serves as a teacher to young puppies as he thinks his way through the issues that his many adventures places him in.
In one story a puppy is frightened of two new dogs in the neighborhood because they are different from him One dog is large and dark, the other is small and speaks with an accent. As they all meet, Seamus explains to the puppy that it is because they are different that they can have wonderful new stories to tell about their life – and everyone can be a new friend.
As each dog talks about their life, the puppy and Seamus begin to wish that they were like the other dogs and could go hunting like the retriever – or live in Mexico with all of the wonderful music and food like the chihuahua. Seamus is somewhat surprised when the new dogs tell him that they wish that they were like him! Smart, able to herd sheep, and had long fur to keep them warm in the winter. Seamus thinks about this for a while and finally says with a grin that everybody is good at some things – just different things – and the best thing that you can ever be is “just you!”
One of the many things that make The Adventures of Seamus the Sheltie different from most children’s books is the Parental Discussion Guide that is included. Here the parent is guided through setting the stage and having a discussion with the child about the story.
In this particular story, some of the suggested questions are; Why do you think the puppy was afraid of the new dogs? Have you ever felt like the puppy did when you met someone that was different from you? What do you think Seamus would tell you about that? Suggested answers are also always included for the parent to use if the child requires additional coaching. Similar questions are present in this story for the issues of self-esteem. Other stories deal with obeying your parents, fear of doctors, storms, taking care of smaller things, losing a friend, and other issues and fears that are common to childhood.
All of the stories are relatively short and packed with humor and adorable characters and illustrations designed to attract and hold the child’s interest and attention. To date the reception by parents and teachers has been excellent and very rewarding.