I really cannot believe it is five years since the first Little Harry book came out. But the publisher, Eyrie Press, assures me it is.
Little Harry evolved because I felt that home educated children needed a book about children like them, who didn’t go to school, illustrating an ordinary family in an everyday kind of home educating life.
‘Who’s Not In School?‘ was the first of these. Followed next by ‘The Wrong Adventure’ again featuring little Harry.
Although welcomed by most home educating families, and I’m told the children loved it especially looking again and again at the beautifully detailed illustrations by young home educator James Robinson (instagram @jamesrobinsonart), it also caused a bit of controversy!
This was because some felt it portrayed home educated children and consequently their parents in a bad light, particularly with reference to the illustration of Harry climbing on an exhibit to see what was inside. In his eyes and in the eyes of many children he was just making an innocent investigation, even if his behaviour was totally unacceptable to us. But it was that picture that caused upset by suggesting, some felt, that home educating parents would let their children do such things.
Of course, they wouldn’t, any more than any other parents however they’re raising their children. But the most well behaved still do things they shouldn’t when you inevitably take your eyes off them for a moment.
However, I was sorry to have riled the feelings of many home educating parents when my only wish was to support.
I do wonder if those same parents have seen the ‘Horrid Henry’ books (far worse behaviour than Harry!) and feel accused of bad parenting by those!
My intention was to create opportunities between parents and children to discuss behaviour, discuss the reasons why certain types of behaviour are desirable and others are not – like Harry at the museum, discuss the reasons behind all that he did and what reasons are justifiable.
Children need all sorts of examples, good and bad, to understand how to behave and more importantly, why it’s of benefit to them to behave with respect. It boils down to them developing a basic understanding that if they want to be liked and popular and respected in turn, they have to behave in certain ways – as we all do – and some behaviours have to be curbed however justified they they think they are.
Most kids love to learn, Harry certainly does, but it is still not acceptable to do so in the way he does at the museum!
I do hope that controversial picture won’t spoil your enjoyment of the book, and your kids have fun reading about a family like them, or learning about a Home Ed life. But I also hope they spot the ways they are not alike too! And the book raises lots of discussion in your house, which is after all a valid approach to learning!