Tales, Fables, Myths, Legends

A few weeks ago I was preparing to lead a contemplative discussion around the use of language in our society and how powerful words can be. As part of this talk I was charged to come up with a short story to engage the children who would be present. I went to work trying to find some sort of tale or fable that could incorporate the morals I was trying to inspire.

While searching online I found this great book: Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About by Margaret Read MacDonald.

I headed off to my local library to track it down and pick the perfect tale that would fit my discussion. While in the library, after finding the call number and location, I found it quite difficult to find the section on Tales. As a weekly (or more) visitor of the library I was a bit in shock that I couldn’t find this important section. I had to enlist the librarian to help me and as we walked through the aisles we got to talking. She shared that this is a section she has recently and purposely moved to a new location to try and inspire and attract readers. It made me think about how little I have been exploring various myths, legends, and fables with my own boys.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you may be curious about the difference between a myth, a legend, fable and a fairy tale. So keeping to my English major roots I decided I needed to look it up. As my grandfather would say “here’s the skinny” (aka- here is the information).

fable is a story passed down from generation to generation that has a lesson or moral to share. Fables can include animals, plants, or objects that are personified to human-like qualities.

legend is similar to historical fiction where often it will provide information about a person’s actions, deeds, or lifetime and is based upon some truth. Think Robin Hood or King Arthur.

myth is also a story from times long ago that typically answers a social or natural phenomenon. This could include how something came to be, why something was created or destroyed, or how something works. There is also an element of morality within this type of story and often will include Gods or beings with super human powers/abilities. I often am reminded of the Greek Myths and stories about Gods and Goddesses.

Lastly and historically most recent are Fairy Tales. These were often created for children and incorporate healthy doses of magic and mysticism. Fairies, giants, elves, sprites, gnomes are all characters that often appear in fairy tales.

I feel like these types of stories are so important to children these days. They allow for both creativity and lesson learning while incorporating a bit of magic and wonder. I remember one of my favorite books as a young pre-teen was Aphrodite’s Blessings which shared short myths of Greek Gods and Goddesses.

I wonder if we spent more time reading these important stories to our children if they would embody more morals, magic, creativity, and understanding as they grow.

Here are some titles to start with:

 

   

 

Happy Reading!

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Movies of Books

Tonight my boys and I went out to the movies and we saw Alice Through the Looking Glass.

As we were sitting watching the previews I was struck by how many books are becoming popular movies. Coincidentally this weekend my sister sent me a text that she found our favorite childhood series The Box Car Children on DVD.

I have to be honest, I’m not quite sure on my stance on this trend. I almost always prefer the book over the movie however I do admit that it is interesting to watch a different perspective of childhood classic literature. I remember reading and loving Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It has been MANY years since I was brought back into wonderland and I really enjoyed tonight’s movie. I sat back remember the way the books played out in my young imagination and how they really came alive through cinematography, acting, and music on the big screen.

 

We also saw a preview of the BFG- if you read one of my early posts from this winter you will know this is a favorite in our house. Even now we are reading the book Holes and the boys are excited to rent (yes we do have to rent-aka borrow from our local library) the movie once we finish the book.

So part of me, the purist book lover, feels that no way, we should always read the book and stick with that. But today when  my 9 year old looked up from the film and asked if we can get the book I thought, why yes, I guess this is okay. If the movie is good that can make a child want to also read the book, I am good with that.

I would love to hear what you think about movies of books.

Happy reading… and watching?

When My Son’s Fish Died

I have a hard time getting attached to living things. I am sensitive and am an over thinker. This is one of the main reasons that I did NOT want to let my kids get small animals, especially fish. Fish aren’t known to have a great life cycle and there are lots of things that can go wrong when owning fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. We already have two dogs and a cat.  My eldest son really really wanted a pet of his own and loved the idea of having a fish in his bedroom. We set up an agreement on what responsibilities he would need to show before I would consider it. A few months later after some hard work and growth on his part I gave in. We now had three pretty fish in our home.

Related image

About a month into being a fish owner my son went on a week long vacation with his Mimi. Left in charge of these three fish who will remain unnamed, I had a bad feeling. You don’t even have to guess what happened. Yes, half way through his vacation somehow the fish got a disease and two of the three passed away. My youngest son and I cried and said a prayer as we flushed away the sad little creatures. My husband and I decided we would wait for our son to come home to tell him the sad news. I was so worried how he would take it. After shedding quite a few tears I decided I needed to prepare so I went to the library. Here are three great books that I found that can be helpful for kids (and their oversensitive mothers): When a Pet Dies, Let’s Talk About When Your Pet Dies, and The Goodbye Book.

   

Before my eldest was scheduled to come home I made sure to read them with my youngest and we both found solace in the simple and comforting words. I was ready.

The day arrived and on the drive home from the airport we broke the news and I had my bag of books on the ready- my tone was gentle and arms open ready for cuddles. I was surprised with what happened….

In a voice much like Charlie Brown’s signature “Good Grief” he said “Oh, Mom!” rolled his eyes and asked if I was OK. While letting out both a sign of relief and a laugh because I should have known my logical, practical little boy understood the nature of fish and although he was bummed, that was just it. Not a huge ordeal, just part of life. I wish I had some of his strength and ability to rationalize.

That being said, he did read the books and enjoyed a little chuckle at my sensitivity.

Happy Reading!

Autism Awareness

It is amazing how literature can open doors to places you have never personally explored. I especially love how children’s literature can be a foundation for learning and acceptance.

April is Autism awareness month and through my work I support many families that Autism has touched. This isn’t the case with many people. I don’t ever remember knowing about Autism until I was much older, possibly in college. I don’t want my children to grow up with the same unawareness. I want them know people of all abilities and I want them to have an understanding of the challenges many people work to overcome.

 I was so happy to see a shelf dedicated to stories about Autism at one of my local libraries and I wanted to share with you two of my favorite Autism awareness books. First is Lucy’s Amazing Friend. In this story there is a little boy Daniel who isn’t as engaged as the other kids in his class. He has the support of an aide and does some different things in school. He enjoys doing some things that other kids think are strange or weird. There are times when he gets teased for being different.

In this story Lucy, a little girl in Daniel’s class befriends him, not because a teacher asked her to or out of sympathy. She found they had things in common and those outweighed their differences. She not only realizes how great he is but shows their classmates things about him that they weren’t able to see initially.

The second book is called My Brother Charlie.
I LOVED this one and highly recommend checking it out!

This true story is about the journey of a set of twins and how one, Charlie, wasn’t developing the same as his sister. There is an openness in the parents’ and sister’s sadness when he was first diagnosed with Autism. This story is in the voice of the sister (a side we often don’t take the time to look at) and shares how they live their life as a family. There is an emphasis on love and understanding in addition to openness.

My boys go to a school where there isn’t much diversity. I guess that’s what happens in a two room school house in New Hampshire. Through these books we talked about Autism and the strengths and challenges that can occur with the diagnosis. We talked about how everyone is different and brings strengths to this world. We talked about how now matter how different or strange someone can seem that it is important to be open minded and curious and always friendly and kind.

If you’d like more information on Autism and other resources check out the Autism Speaks Website

So no matter if you choose to read books from other countries or about people who experience life differently it is so important to expose our children to diversity.

 

Much love and happy reading!

 

 

Pick of the Week

I visit the library several times a week and my book bag overflows with great choices. It is such a thrill to gander through the librarians selections of notable reads. Often I am drawn to these as they caught someone’s eye so they must be something to check out. This week while visiting our local town library I picked up a fantastic one called I am Yoga.

I recently have been working hard on my goal of becoming more fit and yoga has been one of my favorite practices. Of course I was drawn to this small book with beautiful images.

Not only did my boys and I enjoy the simple beautiful prose we especially loved the glossary of yoga poses.

This was our bedtime story and they were both so excited to jump out of bed and practice each pose. It was a good time to explain how stretching our body can help clear the mind and bring peace.

Throughout the book the author describes how beneficial and all encompassing a yoga practice can be for the soul and the world.

The author opens a door between the mind body through simple sentences utilizing great imagery and simple mantras to incorporate into our lives.

 

This is one book that I would read over and over again, reminding myself and my children the beauty that comes along with intentional practice. I hope you will take the time to look at this beautiful little book!

 

Until next time…

 

-Happy Reading and…

Seasons Change With Laughter

 

I was out for a walk with my family this weekend and in Southern New Hampshire winter is fading into spring. I was talking with my Dad as we prepare for my youngest sister to move down south where they don’t experience such drastic changes in weather. She is very excited to be away from some of the wrath of winter. For me, I love the change of the seasons.

Each season it is exciting to anticipate the weather and natural changes. Right now it’s so exciting to see little shoots of plants breaking through the brown grass. I am energized as the sun stays out longer and the sun warms our skin at the brink of summer. The cool breeze and colorful fall is something to look forward to and there’s such a childlike bliss of the first snowfall. I really couldn’t image what it would be like to have similar weather year round.

Last week while scouring the library I found an aptly titled book Winter Woes.

This lyrical book brings light and laughter to the end of winter. I wasn’t surprised to find out the author is from New Hampshire. Marty Kelley highlights the things that most of us dislike about winter- especially as some years it continues into April. I love witty books and this is one that I believe I enjoyed just as much as the kids. In reading more about the author we found that he has several other seasonal books that we have put on our to read list. They include:

                                      

I have yet to check these out but I am thinking I have found yet another fantastic author that I will have to surly check out all of his literary works.

Check out his website:

http://www.martykelley.com/all-about-me.html

 

Keep laughing, reading children’s lit with wit and as always…

Happy Reading!

 

More than listening

Today I’d like to share one of my favorite new-ish authors Herve Tullet.

I have been lucky raising readers for the most part. But hey, not every time I suggest that it’s book time they jump for joy. My youngest I doubt would choose to pick up a book in his spare time and prefers to active play. So today I want to talk about some interactive books. Herve Tullet is an author/artist from Normandy who has published some great fun picture and board books that encourage the reader to do more than listen. I first picked up these fantastic book-

Press Here

This is a fun and colorful book that invites young hands to touch and make magic out of the circles. I remember opening this book with my boys and they were amazed that when they touched a circle on one page that it made new and exciting things happen on the next.

Readers will not only be pressing here but turning the book upside down, shaking it, pushing soft and hard. Such hands on fun with this bright book!

Some of his other fantastic books I would recommend checking out include:

Mix It Up!

The Game of Tops and Tails

So while you’re making sure to get in your book time remember that to reach little busy bodies try something different, check out these interactive books that invite diversity  in participation… a little more than listening.

Happy Reading!