The Not Perfect Hat Club is both a book and an ever expanding set of materials and tools designed to debunk the myth of perfection and help kids understand that they were born to be awesome, not perfect.
The Story Behind the Book
Back in 2010, I was doing a reading at a 3rd-grade classroom in Iowa. The kids and I were busy drawing one of the dogs from the story we’ve just read when I started to hear strange complaints.
“I can’t do this.”
“Mine’s not perfect like yours."
It finally occurred to me to ask them what they thought “not perfect” meant. Their answers - more than 50 negative adjectives and comments - shocked and dismayed me. According to eight-year-olds, people who are not perfect are “dirty, ugly, dumb, messed up, creepy, stupid, disgusting, bad, retarded, smelly, gross, losers.” The kids probably could have gone on, but I stopped them to deliver an eloquent speech about why no one is perfect and that’s a good thing.
Following discussions about this, I assumed they understood that no one is perfect. However, when I returned I got the same disconcerting answers. Kids understood intellectually that no one is perfect, but still believed they had to be.
I knew then and there that I had to do what I could about this. I did my research, so I would understand and respond to the systems and approaches to education that were creating this terrible burden for our kids. I talked to neuroscientists and psychologists so I could really understand how kids learn and why their emotional well-beingh was so important. And I wrote this book.
A Global Vision
The Not Perfect Hat Club gradually morphed into much more than a book. As I started creating materials that could be used in classrooms based on the story, I realized educators around the world be interested in a collaboration. Eventually, we offered an eight-week program consisting of weekly live readings by myself, literacy lesson plans, creative activities, and international collaborative projects for any schools and classes that were interested in participating. We had over 600 schools in 16 countries taking part and it was a rip roaring success by any measure.