When the first day of school arrives, many parents begrudgingly take on the role of the “get out the door” coach. Getting backpacks packed, breakfasts eaten and the perfect outfits selected all before the start bell can feel like an Olympic sport.
Levi Strauss & Co., recognizing this challenge, partnered with Bank Street College of Education in 1986 to produce resources that would help educate both parents and their children. The result was two booklets that Levi Strauss & Co. distributed for free.
The first, Less Hassle in Dressing Your Preschooler, was an educational pamphlet for parents. It contained advice such as how to deal with dawdling; how to teach children about snaps, zippers and buttons, and how to handle a child’s attachment to a particular item of clothing.
The second piece was a full-color activity book for young children called Let’s Get Dressed. The book included games, puzzles and stories to teach skills that would aid in getting dressed, such as matching, sorting and counting. As part of the promotion, the Levi’s® brand also created an in-store video, “Levi’s News Digest With Ann Mather Reporting.”
Several contributors lent their talents to help develop the books, including authors Barbara Brenner and Seymour Reit, creator of the character Casper the Friendly Ghost. Joanne Oppenheim penned the parent booklet. An accomplished author with a background in children development, her pieces on parenting regularly appeared everywhere from the Today Show and Good Morning America to Working Mother and Parents magazine. Today, Joanne and her daughter Stephanie run Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, the leading independent guide to children’s media.
At the time, Joanne says, middle-class women were joining the workforce in droves. For those with young children, getting out the door in a timely manner was a particular frustration.
“The booklet focused on playful ways to make the experience less difficult for parents and children,” Joanne told Unzipped. “My goal was the translate child development language into language that parents could understand.”
Joanne said she has a particular fondness for the Levi’s® book, as its promotion took her on her first nationwide book tour.
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