how to draw, with GZ and Chirp

This is a kid who doesn't "like" drawing... in quotation marks because the truth is, he loves to create pictures, but doesn't love to make them up from scratch out of his own head.  You might say he's not very creative, but more likely, he's just scared.  Kid #4 in a family of draw-ers, paint-ers, and other big, creative types, and of course he's worried he'll get made fun of.
He has attempted various Draw Write Now draw-alongs with us (scroll down in this post to see some of his early attempts).  
But this week, he discovered a "how-to" for a rather inane little kids' magazine called Chirp (from the same folks who bring you such insipid Canadian reading as Chickadee and Owl).  Now, these kids ADORE Chirp, for no particular reason I can see other than he's consistently drawn and cheerful.

But the how-to draw, while it has inspired Naomi to do a few sweet doodles of her own, is like kindling in the wishful hands of Gavriel Zev.  "You have to start with a semi-circle!" he'll announce, and then run off to dash off another picture of Chirp.  
Here are the latest two of MANY over the last couple of days.  At the far left, he's drawn the legs farther apart to indicate that Chirp is running.  I suggested that the simple addition of wheels to the bottom of the boots would allow him to rollerblade, which might be fun, so he did that, too. 

At the far right, just for comparison, is a picture Gavriel Zev did all on his own, without prompting and without the how-to.  He used a ruler to make sure he got all the limbs perfectly straight, so I'm not suggesting there's no demonstration of skill here - just that, well, you might swear these were made by different kids if you didn't know better.

Many people believe how-to-draw kinds of books are not helpful because they don't really teach creativity.  That much is true.  But I don't believe they STIFLE creativity, and I believe (and have seen through Naomi Rivka's drawing) that through inspiring confidence - "look what I can draw!" - kids who have achieved early success with their help will at least be no further behind kids who haven't, and may even have a bit of an edge.  No idea if this is true... but it's a suspicion I'm willing to run with since it seems to be paying off for my own kids.

What's your opinion of "how-to-draw" programs?  Have you used any that were terrible?  Excellent?


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