The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: The Little Engine Theory

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Little Engine Theory

When I was a kid, my mother read The Little Engine That Could over and over, not because she thought I'd learn a lesson from it but because I simply liked the story.  What happened was a lifelong love of overcoming personal mountains with the "I think I can" mentality.  Visualization of goals has been hailed by psychologists for centuries as a way to win games, overcome addiction, and reach one's goals.  It is not surprising that the moral of this gentle children's story has endured for generations.

A brief version of the tale appeared under the title Thinking One Can in 1906, in Wellsprings for Young People, a Sunday School publication. This version reappeared in a 1910 publication by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The story then appeared under the name The Pony Engine in the Kindergarten Review in 1910. Another version of the story appeared in the six-volume Bookhouse Books, which were copyrighted in the UK in 1920 and sold in the U.S. via door-to-door salespersons. The best known version of the story The Little Engine That Could was written by "Watty Piper", a pen name of Arnold Munk, who was the owner of the publishing firm Platt and Munk.  In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of The Little Engine That Could, with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations.  And that is the version I remember fondly! 

Read The Little Engine That Could to your children and hope that the little engine's message of endurance and determination affects the rest of their lives, too!

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