If you’re tired of finding sopping wet towels on your kid’s bed or hearing one word answers when you ask how their day was, you’re probably going to want to buy How To Be A Person, a new book by Catherine Newman, writer and etiquette columnist for Real Simple. The fun book teaches kids 65 real life skills, like how to empty the dishwasher or be a good host. And, as if you needed more incentive, once they’ve learned five skills from the book, you can enter your kiddo in the How To Be A Person giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Target gift card.
There was a meme you may remember floating around a few years ago which said, “I’m glad I learned about parallelograms instead of how to do my taxes. It’s really come in handy this parallelogram season.” While this book may not teach kids how to do their taxes, per se, it will give them a slew of practical skills they wouldn’t normally learn in school (which means it's perfect to include in the curriculum of the school or camp you may now be operating from home). Whether it’s how to calculate a tip, do laundry, or contact their political representatives, this book might just be one of the most valuable gifts you give your kids (and honestly, yourself). And as author Catherine Newman tells Romper in an email, the message is more relevant than ever right now.
"With so many parents working at home and folks not quite having time to do every single thing, I think you can say to your kids in a really real way, 'Hey, I could really use your help,'" she says. "And then if they don't know how to do stuff, they can learn. Like from this book! Especially kids who might be leaving for college without all the skills you expected them to have by now."
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The seeds of this book were planted when Newman's daughter (now a teenager) was going through a particularly independent phase as a toddler.
"My daughter was the kind of 2-year-old who wouldn't let you help her," Newman says. "'I do it myseeeeeeelllllfffff!' You know the type. Who turned into the kind of 10-year-old and now 17-year-old who still wouldn't let you help her. And years ago I asked her to do something for me — sweep the floor I think — and she was like, 'Okay, but I don't know how! And don't show me or help me!' So I went to the library to get a book out about how to do everything, and there wasn't one! So I wrote this one. With lots of help from her," she adds.
With adorable illustrations that give the book a fun, graphic novel kind of feel, your kids will actually enjoy reading about how to be a decent human being, whether that involves hosting a pleasant playdate, or successfully executing the most dreaded household chore of all... unclogging a clogged toilet.
Even toilet-plunging doesn't seem so bad when the instructions are this cute.
To take part in the sweepstakes, first download and print this cool merit badge chart which keeps track of the badges kids have earned (and if you don’t have a printer, you can always get creative and craft a chart and badges). There are seven badges to collect: "Other Beings" (learning to care for plants and people), "Saying It Right" (communication and kindness), "Dirty Things" (caring for the home), "Wearing That?" (caring for clothes), "Edible Food" (cooking), "Two Cents" (managing money), and finally, the "Useful Skills" badge, which covers everything else that doesn’t fit neatly into a category.
If you and your little one are up for it, share a picture on Instagram using the hashtag #HowToBeAPerson. Once they’ve learned five skills, adults can enter kids in the sweepstakes using this link. The contest is open until August 31. Even if they don’t win, you can chalk that up as lesson too (you win some, you lose some). Either way, they'll come out of the experience knowing how to write a thank you note, read a road map (maybe they can teach me that one!), and scramble eggs, and that's a win in everyone's book.