Kids know more than we give them credit for. When reading Peter Reynold's The Dot to my third graders, they informed me very confidently that it was a circle story. I stopped, and realized that these students were on to much more. The story is about a young girl, Vashti, who thought that she couldn't draw. Her art teacher, a wise woman, told her that all good art starts with simply making a dot. After Vashti made her dot, the teacher then solemnly told her to sign the paper. The next week, that same paper was framed and hanging above the art teacher's desk. Vashti then realized that she could make much better dots than the first one she'd tried, so she began a series of paintings all related to dots! At the school art show a few weeks later, when her art was being displayed, a young boy came up to her. "I can't even draw a straight line," he said sadly. At this point, I had several students call out 'it's a circle story!' I wondered for half a moment what that was, and then realized. They knew that the girl would make the little boy feel like an artist. She would do the same thing for him that her art teacher did for her.
Isn't this true in real life? History is one big circle story. A bad influence on a child leads to a child growing up and doing the same things. People repeat their mistakes. But for now, at least, these kids have the innocence of knowing only of the circle stories in picture books. The ones that are cyclically good. I hope they can stay that way for as long as possible.