For a Children's book, Traditional Fairy Tales and contemporary non-fiction publications both have their advantages. Fiction appeals to children’s imaginations and presents timeless universal values. Non-fiction introduces real people, places and events and provides relevant modern day morals.
Reading these books in pairs will help plant the seed in children’s minds, and then consolidate it with factual information about the issue.
The following books are available from Abacus in a large format for easy reading and open discussion in the classroom.
1. The Ugly Duckling and Let’s Learn How to Stop Bullying
The Ugly Duckling follows the story of a little bird, born in the nest of ducklings, who is bullied by other birds and animals for looking different. His situation is much the same of a child being bullied in the playground for wearing different clothes, maybe speaking differently, or simply for looking physically different to their classmates. The Ugly Duckling just wants to find a place where he can be accepted for the way he is and by spring grows into a beautiful swan. Not only does the tale heighten children’s awareness of the effects of this cruel behaviour but it also sends the message that one day the bullying will end and the little duck (or child) will find their place and own beauty.
Let’s Learn How to Stop Bullying reinforces the issues in The Ugly Duckling covering the different types of bullying and how to recognise them. It also highlights the emotional impact of bullying, and what to do if you are being bullied or if you are a bystander. Teaching children about bullying at a young age is important in preventing antisocial behaviour down the line.
2. Babushka and Celebrations of the World
Babushka tells the Russian folktale of an old woman’s who having missed her chance to deliver her gift to the newborn Christ, wanders the city leaving gifts for all the children in the hope that one day she will come across him. It is said she still wanders and leaves gifts for children each Christmas. The story opens children’s eyes to the idea that various cultures hold differing beliefs and traditions, and encourages them to question their own understandings. A beautiful tale to help children understand that Christmas is celebrated differently around the world.
Celebrations of the World reinforces these lessons and introduces celebrations held by different cultures from all over the world, including in Lebanon, China, Spain and India. Exposing children to these practices develops their multicultural attitude and creates harmony within diverse classes.
3.The Emperor’s New Clothes and Let’s Learn about Feelings and Emotions
The Emperor’s New Clothes is a Danish folktale about a greedy emperor who is promised a new suit of clothes that is invisible to stupid or silly people. No one dared to tell him that they couldn’t see his suit until a child proclaimed that he wasn’t wearing anything at all. The story is a commentary on greed and seeking approval from others.
Let’s Learn about Feelings and Emotions explains why we have ever changing feelings and emotions, and how they can be dealt with in a positive way. By learning to be self aware and conscious of other’s feelings, children will grow into happy, respectful and compassionate young people.
What other book pairings can you thing of? Comment below with your suggestions.