The first in a series designed by a specialist in early childhood development, This or That: A Busy Morning empowers young readers to make their own choices while giving adults concrete examples of how they can bring more agency and independence into the lives of even very young children.
This or That: A Busy Morning is written from the perspective of a young boy’s mother, who asks him to make simple decisions—which song to sing, which toy to play with—throughout the day. As the toddler wakes to a new day and gets ready to eat, for example, the mother says, “The bib keeps your clothes dry and clean. Which will you wear, the red or the green?” This is soon followed by: “It’s sunny outside; let’s get some fresh air. Should we walk to the park, or stroll over there?”
The rhyming narrative is pleasant and smooth. In addition to chiming in with their own choices, young audiences will enjoy the fun, colorful illustrations and the chance to spot patterns, such as finding the friendly puppy who appears on many pages. The illustrations also include racially diverse characters, a welcome element and a credit to the authors and illustrator.
This or That’s primary strength is in modeling how and when adults can offer simple choices to the young people around them. The authors maintain that providing these choices will help children improve their “logical thinking skills, which will lead to more confidence and engagement with others” (back cover). This focus leads to a minimal plot, as the characters simply go to the park to play before returning home for naptime. It will be interesting to see how the concept might be expanded to encompass more unusual adventures and experiences as the series continues.
This or That: A Busy Morning is a laudable introduction to a new series. Readers will eagerly await future books in this sequence.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.