Friday, November 5, 2010

The Day Leo Said I Hate You

What do you do when you kid tells you for the first time that he hates you?

Unfortunately, with a seven year-old with an attachment disorder I hear that phrase pretty much every time he gets mad at me. I also hear "you are a lier," "you are stupid," and the latest "you wear hideous clothes," which I have to say gave me a good laugh.

My almost three year-old on the other hand hasn't done more than the stomp his feet and cry temper tantrum with a few "I don't yike that mommy" thrown in there, when he is mad. And then you can tell he immediately feels bad if he senses mommy isn't happy with him. It's a wonderful thing!

I do know that the phrase "I hate you" is in our future. Not only does he hear his older brother say it, but I think its a normal feeling for kids to have at some point, as they try and figure out what their feelings mean and appropriate ways to express them..

When I was offered the chance to review the childrens book The Day Leo Said I Hate You! by Robie Harris I was excited. 


I'm always happy to add new books to our library, and this one has become a regular in our nighttime story routine.

The story starts out with Leo making some poor behavior choices (rolling tomatoes in the house until they burst, droping string beans into the fish bowl, and squeezing toothpaste all over the toilet) to which his mother repeatedly tells him "no." Leo's frustration at being repeatedly told "no" overwhelms him and eventually he tells his mother that he hates her. His mother, at first horrified, then explains to him that you that words can hurt, but there are things you can hate, like broccoli. 

The illustrations are colorful and engaging, and mirror the intensity and emotions of the story.

I was somewhat nervous reading this with Kiel, because I didn't want to introduce these words to him and then live to regret it. While that would have been the case with his older brother, with my younger, well attached, "typical" child I did not need to worry.

Kiel was fascinated by the illustrations and recognized immediately when Leo was doing something naughty. Watching Kiel shake his finger at the pages of the book and say "naughty" to Leo was adorable. 

Not only did we use the story to talk about "mean words," which honestly I think went over Kiel's head a bit, but we used the illustrations to work on recognizing and talking about feelings. Kiel was drawn to the emotions shown on Leo and his mothers face and was very animated in telling me that Leo was sad, or Leo's mom was mad.

Some of our books we read purely for the enjoyment of the story and just snuggling together. Other books we use in a more dynamic way, with the two of us interacting with the story line. The Day Leo said I hate You! is definitely the kind of book that your child will enjoy the story and the illustrations, but as a parent you can feel like you are teaching your child something too.

The next time my older son gets mad and says mean things to me, after he calms down, I plan on pulling out this book and reading it with him. Although it is meant for younger children I think we can use it as a discussion starter with him.

The Day Leo Said I Hate you is now available in paperback and for Kindle, as well as in hardcover. All versions are on sale at Amazon right now.

I was provided with a review copy of the book by Raab Associates Inc. All opinions are my own.

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