Culture

Dutch Friend Books

Photo Credit: Cienpies Design

My eldest son started primary school two years ago and within a week he came home with a vriendenboek (friend book). And that was just the start of it. He then, of course, needed a book of his own and this was passed from friend to friend for the poor mothers to fill in during their evenings. (Dads are not involved in any way with friend books). Naturally, mothers have absolutely nothing to fill their time with once the kids are in bed so these friend books really are a blessing.

They require such information as favourite colour, favourite teacher, favourite subject in school, favourite film, favourite website, favourite book, favourite music, what you want to be later when you are all big and grown up, favourite food, favourite underpants…. you get the picture.

When you are four and five, you’re not only unable to physically write the answers to these questions yourself but your answers change from week to week so a manual copy and paste is out of the question. This means you have no choice but to sit with your child and go through every question. Last week the favourite colour was blue but this week it’s that ‘dark purpley colour’. Last week he wanted to be superman but this week policeman is the career of choice. No mother wants to be accused of lying in their child’s friend book, so it has to be done properly – we mothers have enough guilt to deal with as it is.

And of course every new friend book page requires a photo. There are only so many spare passport photos that a mother stockpiles so the next step is printing photos out on paper and cutting round heads. With a completed profile page, the book is then handed over to the child who scribbles, draws and puts stickers over the page, making some of the information that has been painfully extracted from a four year old illegible.

Finally, there is the ‘keeping tabs on the friend book’ game to play. Two weeks after giving the friend book to a classmate a voice will suddenly chirp up,

“Muuuuuum, I don’t know where my friend book is.”
“Ok. Is it in your bedroom?”
“No. I gave it to someone.”
“Ok. Who?”
“Ermmmmmmmm. I don’t know.”
“Right.”

And you’ll be that mother that has to ask the teacher to put a note on the information board about a missing friend book……

Is this a Dutch thing? I don’t remember having anything like this when I was at school. Any other country’s school children fond of friend books?

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5 thoughts on “Dutch Friend Books”

  1. I'm pretty sure I had never heard of a friend book before I came here…. they are nice but I would rather see them make an appearance when the kids are older and it means something to them I guess. I am well informed that the girls use a poetry book as they get older instead of a friend book!

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  2. I don't have kids, but I live in Germany and I've seen the friend books here (“Freundschaftsbuch in German).

    I think they're a nice idea, but I just assumed kids who were already old enough to write used them.

    I found you via The Move to America.

    Like

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