Revisiting Childhood Memories: A Review of ‘No, David!’

“It’s not enough to love children, it is necessary that they are aware they are loved.”–  St. John Bosco

Reading Level

K-1                        [common core]

Pre-K – Grade 3 [David Shannon website]

Pre-K – 1              [Scholastic]

Review and Comments

David Shannon’s book, No, David!, is modeled after a book he wrote and illustrated as a child.  The pictures are colorful, and the vocabulary is limited because at the time he only knew how to spell no and David.  His story allows a small glimpse into the animated life of a very active, little boy named…… David.

This version highlights familiar childhood situations like sneaking cookies and jumping on the bed during imaginative play.  While David is enthusiastically charging through his day, his mother is trying to teach him important lessons: taking care of toys, respecting the property of others, and listening to and obeying his mother. David ultimately faces consequences after his serious infraction of breaking his mother’s vase.  The main lesson he does learn is that his mother’s love is unconditional. She assures him on the last page that she still loves him even after all the challenges of the day.

Many children find this story amusing because of the large illustrations of David’s extreme expressions and the familiar predicaments.   I think children also identify with being told “No.” I have heard other children ask with concern, “Why is he doing that?” when listening to the story. This is a book I urge parents to preview in order to determine whether the illustrations and subject matter are appropriate for their child.

Possible Concerns

  • David is shown picking his nose in an illustration. [I know a certain little boy who learned to pick his nose for the entertainment of others after listening to this story.]
  • David is shown running down the street with no clothes on.

Further Discussion

Other books in the David series (click on the picture for affiliate link)

Diaper David Books (for younger readers)      

At one point in the book, David puts his finger in his nose.  Shel Silverstein addresses this situation in the following poem:


Inside everybody’s nose

There lives a sharp-toothed snail.

He may bite off your nail.

Stick it farther up inside,

And he may bite your ring off.

Stick it all the way, and he

May bite the whole darn thing off.


Ask questions about the story.

  1. What is David doing?
  2. Why is his mother saying no?
  3. What could David do instead?
  4. How do his actions affect others?
  5. What should David say to his mother after he breaks the vase?
  6. Why is Mother giving David a hug after all the problems?
  7. Who else forgives your mistakes and still loves you?


Create a class book.

  1. Ask students to relate David’s experiences to their own experiences. Tell students that they are going to make a big book about something that they did or something they know would get a “No” from a parent.  Discuss how the author has written the David story and the text pattern and lettering style with the children. Encourage the students to write their stories in a similar manner.
  2. Provide each student with a large sheet of paper and drawing materials. Assist students in drawing a line across the top or bottom portion of their paper, leaving enough space to write the text of the story.
  3. Before completing the story, ask students to describe how David’s mother felt about him even though he did many naughty things. Encourage students to talk about their own experiences. Ask students to think of how they can end their book so that it will be similar to what David experienced with his mother. Provide students with materials needed to conclude their story.
  4. Invite students to also think of a title for their story. Interested students can work together to create a front cover and back page for their book. Bind all of the pages together. Enjoy the book during shared reading time.

[This idea is from extension activities from Scholastic books. ]


You can find many readings of this book on You Tube.


Catholic Resources:

Bible quotes:

  1. “Let the little ones come to me, and do not keep them away.” Matthew 19:14
  2. “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16

“Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.” -St. Francis de Sales

CCC 2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

CCC 2224  The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.


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