“Soup” Stirs Up Good Manners
Manners used to be the cornerstone of society, for both adults and children. They dictated the way people addressed one another, the clothing they chose, the way they ate, and a host of other details. A code of social interaction was the glue that held civilized culture together, but like everything else, it shifted and evolved over time. Over the years, manners loosened to reflect a more casual spirit of the changing times, until we arrived at the place we are today.
Many people – and not just old curmudgeons – agree that there’s a crisis of manners among today’s youth. To remedy the problem, there’s been an increase of youth-oriented manners handbooks over the last ten years. To stand out in the field of etiquette books for kids, the author needs to offer something unique and effective. Manners will never go out of style, but the challenge is getting the message across to children in a way they find engaging and easy to follow.
Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard is Beth Brainard’s humorous, informative effort at making etiquette fun and accessible for children. The book stars a diverse, rag-tag group of characters known as the Good Idea Kids, and their sidekick, a dog named Vitamin. The lovable characters walk young people through a number of scenarios and explain the correct behavior for each situation.
While the information is very basic, many children and even some adults, may not have heard all of these tips before. The chapter on dining is particularly useful, as it explains things like how to place your flatware to signify “resting” and “done.” The chapter that deals with meeting and greeting may also be enlightening. For example, one tip suggests that a child “say an older person’s name before a younger person’s” when making introductions.
The illustrations have a bit of a retro ’70s feel, which plenty of parents and grandparents are likely to appreciate. The characters have facial expressions that communicate a wide rage of feelings and moods that kids can readily understand. The book was originally published in 1990, but the author made updates throughout to make the book more relevant.
Brainard is a publicist by trade and a “civil kids” advocate by passion. She has hosted a radio show on parenting and drafted the foundation for the Character Counts movement, a youth-related character and ethics development program. Her desire to bring the message of good manners to the younger generation inspired her to pen both Soup, and it’s companion book, Why?, a handbook for parents and teachers that helps them explain to children the reasons for practicing good etiquette.
Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard is intended for readers 4 years and up. The idea that manners go way beyond niceties is the driving force behind the Soup book. While etiquette can bring to mind old-fashioned sentiments, it’s just as relevant now as it ever was, because it lays the foundation for a child’s future social interactions. It’s not just a matter of knowing how to use the right fork for a salad; it’s now about showing basic respect and decency to friends and elders and knowing how to communicate clearly and respectfully in preparation for the years to come.
For more information, please visit www.goodideakids.com