It was at the very end of August that we first introduced our children to the interrupt rule. It took them (and us) just a couple of weeks to master the concept, and within a month they had it down pat.

As a follow-on, I’ve found myself speaking to the girls recently about their habits of pointing at interesting people when we’re out and about. They like to call brown people “brown persons” and point out interesting tattoos or people talking in other languages. It hasn’t been too embarrassing so far, but I pulled this book out of our collection in order to reinforce some basic principles of manners.

The DFF Book Club

If you have a name like Aliki, it’s okay to drop your surname. And this author/illustrator has enough of a reputation to manage it. (Incidentally, her last name is Brandenberg.)

Manners by Aliki
I'm not sure this is the be-all and end-all of books about manners, but it's certainly a good one to use to introduce the concepts to children.

Aliki’s book Manners is a bit like a magazine. It contains a mish-mash of illustrated pages — some pictures take up the whole page, others are a comic strip scenario. Aliki knows children well and can faithfully mimic their poor manners in her simple, clear illustrations.

Manners by Aliki
The section covering gossip and whispers illustrates the idea that whispering publicly is not polite because others may think they are being gossiped about.

Manners by Aliki
This cute pair of characters act out several different scenarios, teaching each other manners and having fun with the role-play. It's easy for kids to relate to and encourages more pretend-play along similar lines.

Manners covers a range of topics, from physical demeanour to verbal niceties. All are presented simply, and my girls have quickly picked up on the manners. I notice it in their play as well as when we’re out. Now Brioni begs me to bend down for a secret and whispers into my ear: “I saw a brown person”.

Manners by Aliki
I really like the way this book handles the issue of physical differences. It normalises the differences and ends in a similarity: "We can't help it if we're nice anyway!"

Manners can be tricky things. They can be difficult to define, and some are purely cultural. (Even in our almost-same-culture marriage, David and I differ in what we consider “good” and “bad” manners.) But Aliki’s book is definitely a good starting place for the conversation that you’d better have before it’s too late.

Manners by Aliki
"Look at Daniel. Don't you wish you didn't have to?"

Manners is available on the Book Depository for almost nothing. I noticed that they have another title by Aliki in a similar style — Feelings — which I would seriously be tempted to buy if I hadn’t sworn off internet purchases for 2010! (It’s also available on Amazon.)

What about you? Do you have a good book on manners for your children?