PPBF: Parenting Advice from Andy Griffith…Set the Rules!

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

Before I get to the picture book review, I wanted to share some thoughts about parenting.

Last night, my husband and I enjoyed watching an old Andy Griffith  Show from the 1961 season…”Opie’s Hobo Friend”…guest starring Buddy Ebsen.

These days, single parent homes are pretty common.  But the Andy Griffith Show, starring Andy Griffith as single dad Sheriff Andy Taylor and Ron Howard as his son, Opie, was a ground-breaking concept for television in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Every episode was filled with warmth, good humor and the charm of a bygone era.  Amazingly, every episode was also filled with sound parenting advice.  Unlike many family situation comedies we see on television these days where the mother and/or father are portrayed as bumbling fools, Andy Griffith was a strong, compassionate and loving father, not above making a mistake and saying he was sorry, but always cognizant of his role as the parent and all that entailed.

In this particular episode, Opie becomes enthralled with a drifter and starts to imitate him.  Andy insists that the drifter leave town, but the drifter challenges him and says that Andy should let his son decide what kind of life he wants to have.

Andy’s reply is one that every parent needs to take to heart and remember.

“You can’t let a youngun’ decide for himself.  He’ll grab at the first flashy-with-shiny-ribbons-on-it-thing he sees.  It’s difficult for him to tell the difference between right and wrong.  When he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late.  The wrong kinds of things come packaged in so much glitter, it’s hard to convince him that the other thing might be better in the long run.  All a parent can do is say, “Wait…trust me”…and try to keep temptation away.”

This single dad was not afraid to set the rules and enforce them…he always did it with love and compassion, but he was never swayed from being the parent.

I know this is ‘only’ an old TV series…but I believe this is a powerful message for all parents today…set the rules with love, enforce them with compassion and remember to be the parent!

Our perfect picture book today is about another single-parent family.

A Chair for My Mother

Written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (1984)

Ages: 4 and up


Single-parent family, working together, believing in yourself, surviving hard times, loss, patience, goal-setting


When all of their possessions burn in a fire, a little girl and her mother and grandmother begin saving their coins so they can buy a special armchair that they can all sit in.  Each day they add coins to the jar until it is so full they cannot put another one in.  The chair they buy is gloriously colorful and it epitomizes the hope they have for the future.

Why do I like this book:

This book is a Caldecott Honor Award winner!  The illustrations are glorious…the sweet story relays how resiliant children are…the shared goal brings the family together and strengthens them.  A lovely story-time choice for any child, but especially powerful for single parent families or those who have experienced the disasterous loss of fire or flood.

Related Activities:


Photo courtesy http://www.firstpalette.com

One of my most favorite memories is sitting at the kitchen table with my mother, working together on a diorama.

You will need: 1 shoebox, small boxes and/or styrofoam, construction paper, scissors, glue stick, magazine pictures.

  1. Decide what scene the diorama will portray.
  2. Cover the ‘walls’ of the room (shoebox) with decorated construction paper or pictures cut from a magazine.
  3. Help your child cover the boxes/styrofoam with construction paper to form ‘furniture’.
  4. Glue the pieces in the box.

Great diorama crafts here: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/dioramasartscraftsideasprojectskids.html

More wonderful diorama crafts here: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/diorama/

And more here: http://familycrafts.about.com/u/sty/craftstechniques101/Publish-Your-Craft-Projects/Shoebox-Diorama-Craft.htm

Lesson plan here: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/a_chair_for_my_mother.php

Printables here: http://printables.familyeducation.com/mothers-day/general-skill-builders/55053.html

Because November is such a special month and there is so much going on, I want to reshare some links to wonderful events going on in the kidlit/picture book community because I never know when someone new visits my blog who might not know about them.

  1. Picture Book Month: Visit the website of Dianne de Las Casas to join in the month-long celebration of PICTURE BOOKS!  Every day, a different picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) is guest posting…you won’t want to miss these….they will inspire you and help you remember just why you love to read and write picture books.
  2. Picture Books and Crafts for Kids: This Sunday I will be sharing “Gift Bear for the King”  and we will be making a king/queen crown.  Each YouTube segment highlights a parenting problem such as setting up good bedtime routines or a children’s challenge like learning to be a good friend and believing in oneself.  Last week’s link: http://youtu.be/jMvyNgM2wiM
  3. PiBoIdMo:  Picture Book Idea Month is the brain-child of children’s author,Tara Lazar.  If you signed up, you are already immersed in the world of picture books…trying to come up with 30 fresh ideas for picture book manuscripts during this month.  But, even if you have not joined the challenge, please run over there…don’t walk… to read an AMAZING guest post EVERY DAY this month…these posts will instruct and educate you…as well as motivate you to write the picture book that every child will want to read over and over again.
  4. Please don’t forget about Reach Out and Read…we need to GAB (Give a Book) before they can ROAR (Reach Out and Read).  If everyone who loves to read donates enough to buy just one book, the New York City Bellevue Hospital program (one of the largest in the country) will be able to replace the books that were lost in Hurricane Sandy.



Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft (like the diorama above) and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At $19.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Buy your copy today!

Are you still hesitating?  Author/illustrator/humanitarian Lesley Fletcher just did an amazing review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/461240610

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on November 24, 2012, in Andy Griffith Show, children's picture books, Crafting with Children, Holiday Gifts, Parenting Tips, Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. What a beautiful book with such a lovely message. Don’t know why I’ve never seen it. Such resilience in one family. Like the common goal. And, your activities are always so wonderful!


  2. I never watched the Andy Griffith show but it might be something to try out with my kids. I think they would relate to Opie well. And that episode you shared is a great example of how impressionable kids are, whether it’s their parents, or a shiny box. Parents should always have a strong presence to influence their children, in a good way.


    • You are right, Milka…parents and kids are like the story the Pencilmaker told the pencil…you will always leave a mark on whatever you touch.  So parents need to keep that in mind…and try to make the mark a positive one. 🙂 The Andy Griffith Show…each episode was like a parenting lesson…and lots of fun as well. 🙂   


  3. I agree with Andy Griffin. Kids go after the glitter and need to be shown what is right and good. Sometimes that is very hard to do. Posts like this encourage good parenting and show a way to do it. It gives support where needed. And later after the fact, kids may realize the parent was right in taken the road less traveled.

    The book sounds like it supports this message well. A good choice for PPBF. 🙂


    • I’ve always loved the Andy Griffith Show, Clar…Andy was never afraid to show his love to his son…but was also never afraid to say, “no”…something many parents today might keep in mind.  Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you don’t love the child…if anything, it shows you love him more. 🙂    


  4. Good one, Vivian…it brings hope to families in need!


  5. Wow, this book is so relevant for the many around here who have lost all after Hurricane Irene. What a positive message.


  6. Great activities and parenting advice! 😉


  7. This is a fantastic post. I still enjoy watching an Andy Griffin episode occasionally. Love the diorama. Google+ this and hoping many will visit and watch your videos. We have much to be grateful for – and picture books is high on the list!


    • Hi Susan…thank you so much…you are wonderful to post these things to Google+…I always have so much going on, sometimes I neglect to do that.  I’m glad you liked the post and the diorama!   


  8. Vivian, here’s another one to add to your list, although it’s not restricted to picture books. Chronicle has launched a Give Books campaign on their website. Lots of fun stuff. http://www.chroniclebooks.com


    • Thanks so much, Julie…I will go and check that out…there really are so many great things going on to help kids and families.  And yet, there is still so much need…I appreciate the heads-up about Chronicle’s book program.   


  9. You are a good teacher Vivian ,Thanks for posting my friend 🙂


  10. Look at those activities!!!! Every kid would love and remember doing a diorama.
    A Caldecott Honor book with such important messages must be a true winner. I look forward to reading this.


    • Dioramas are so easy and so much fun and I always loved making them…and I still remember doing them and that was over a half a century ago…YIKES! Thanks, Penny…glad you liked the story and craft. 🙂  


  11. Good example from the Andy Griffith Show . . . parents cannot leave it to “younguns” to decide when to go to bed, whether to go to school, whether to eat their veggies, etc.

    That’s what parents are for.


    • I know, Nancy…and I was speaking about that with a colleague the other day…perhaps one of the problems is that many in this generation of parents who have young ones now grew up watching shows and commercials where the parents were portrayed as fools or ineffective (the Simpsons, Married with Children, etc.)…so they have no idea what the correct role of a parent should be and when they become parents, they have no clue how to be one. Just a thought. 🙂 There are many wonderful young parents out there though…my hat is off to them!


  12. Catherine Johnson

    This all sounds great!


    • Thanks, Catherine…I should probably do an “Andy Griffith Show” based hands-on workshop for parents…just commonsense, compassion, consistency and communication…four components of my program of positive parental participation. 🙂   


  13. I loved the Andy Griffith Show!
    Vivian, I noticed you added my website on your sidebar. Thank you!
    It is my old blog though. If you get a chance, can you update the blog address and the photo?


  14. Your posts are always packed with information and positive reinforcements, Vivian! Besides sharing wonderful books with us, that is 🙂 Loved this pick!


  15. LOVE the concept of this book, Vivian. I have to find it and read it – it sounds wonderful! And I also love those “old” TV shows – they have a lot to offer. It was a simpler time, and the humor is so innocent, and the episodes so much less frantic than so much of what’s on today. (Don’t I sound like an old fogey? :)) But give me Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, F Troop etc. any day 🙂


    • Glad you loved the book, Susanna…it is very sweet.
      There is something special about the old TV shows..and I am always struck by how relevant to parenting the Andy Griffith Show is…the character he portrayed is human…makes mistakes…says I’m sorry…and is always looking to be the best he can be…and encourage his son along those same lines. 🙂


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