It's Hard to Be Five

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
It's Hard to Be Five Book Poster Image
Growing up is a challenge ... but fun, too!

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Shows a kid struggling with growing up and independence and ultimately accepting his new role in the world.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the message of this picture book is very positive and contains nothing objectionable.

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What's the story?

A squirmy 5-year-old struggles as he learns "how to work [his] control panel" and do the things a 5-year-old is supposed to do. His mind tells him how he should act and what he should do, but he finds himself doing just the opposite. His world is changing, and he feels frustrated. But he also begins to realize that as he gains greater control, he becomes more independent -- and independence can be fun!

Is it any good?

IT'S HARD TO BE FIVE is a remarkable book with outstanding illustrations and a true-to-life message. The tug and pull of the 5-year-old's struggle with his "control buttons" is clearly echoed in the rhyming language, which kids will surely enjoy. Though at times the rhymes are a bit stilted, the playful print and rhythm of the words on the page add to the fun. Vibrant, colorful, intricate illustrations complete the message in a way that seems kid-like and entertaining.

Though It's Hard to Be Five is playful and silly, the message is an important one: Growing up can be tough, and it can be frustrating. Kids will learn that "some fun things are hard. And some hard things are fun." And by learning to forgive themselves for their mistakes, kids will find their own mind and own heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all kinds of issues while reading this book, even if no one in the family is 5. Kids, especially, will find comfort in learning that gaining self-control is expected to be a struggle. They might like to talk about special challenges they've faced when trying to behave: What were you supposed to do? What did you actually do? Did your mind tell you to do one thing while you actually did another? What happened? How did you feel when you tried to get yourself dressed, tie your own shoes, ride a bike, or walk to school on your own? Did you feel more independent? Do the kids in this book remind you of yourself?

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