– Sudeshna Sengupta, Director, Academics at Vedanya International School, Gurugram
I wish to take you all on a journey with me. What is our destination? That is unique. It is your memories. A journey back to your childhood where you might have sat with the three bears and tasted some porridge or dreamt about the beautiful, brave girl in a red hood who accosted the wolf. Have you ever thought how these stories and images have helped shape you to be what you are today? I want you to juggle your memories, dust the old steel trunk with forgotten books in the attic and enjoy reliving those moments with your children. I can hear many of you telling me that those books are gone, lost and buried. Fine, but timeless stories cannot be forgotten. So here I give you a compilation of old and new, some fun, some thoughtful stories that will have your children readers today, to be like you, readers forever.
So, flip those pages as you wander into the world of:
1. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the -Pooh by A.A. Milne.
‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t, said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
The Learning: All children will face challenges as they grow up; a new school; new people to interact with; new environment; new food; new and change being constant in their journey. Hold their hand as Pooh did with Piglet and show them how best they can tackle such newness. New is fun, new is learning and new very quickly become the old and the familiar.
Your Role: Don’t push your children into the newness but hold their little fingers and be beside them to share their doubts and uncertainties. Take them with Winnie the Pooh to a new park, sit on the bench and read. Then try the merry-go-round or the Ferris wheel. The choice is your child’s. Be the one to show how all things new can also be beautiful and fun. Buy a packet of monkey nuts and help your child to crack them open and take out those nuts from within. If your child has nut allergy then take a soft ball and show how you can balance them on your feet and pass it along to their tiny ones. The ball will fall so pick it up and try to balance all over again. It is good to fail for that is the ONLY way we learn for life.
2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
‘When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.’
The Learning: Our children have come into a world that is ‘I’ centric; a world where success is measured by materialistic possessions; happiness is equivalent to toys and devices that one possesses; kindness is for quotations and Mother Teresa. Sit beside them and read about August Pullman, the protagonist of Wonder and how he believed that ‘being kind is not enough, one has to be kinder.’
Your Role: Show them in your daily acts what kindness means. Kneel down to them even if you are running late for work, stay over at your ailing parents’ home and hold their hand as your child watches you; help the man with a stick cross a bad stretch on the road; speak politely to those who serve you at home; your children will realize the true meaning of kindness. Choose a birthday to spend time with those unfortunates who do not even remember their birthdays. Let your child not think of birthdays as only an occasion to receive gifts. Of course, the gifts will come but also show them the joy of giving gifts on their special day to those for whom a box of colours is as invaluable as the air we breathe. Show them how a hug can bring the brightest smile on to the face of a lonely child; a slice of cake is a feast and then kindness will define your child and your family.
3. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Her teacher smiled. ‘Just make a mark and see where it takes you.’
The Learning: None of us are born great. We are born with tears and laughter. We are born to a family that gives us the opportunities to discover ourselves, our worth, our greatness. We are tiny dots that grow as we will them to grow. Their size, shape and colour depends on us. You could use a pencil, a brush or even your fingers to make your special dot. But remember that your dot is YOURS alone. So, take care as you make it.
Your Role: Do not draw the dot for your children. Let each child discover what dot can leave a mark forever. Show them the power of your dot through your daily acts of humility and tolerance. Show them the true colour reflected in your dot though your love and compassion. Show them the size of your dot through the life that you lead. But never, ever draw your dot for your children. Life is a journey of self-discovery. So, hold that paper steadily on the floor. Give all the colour that you can find. Give every choice of pen, pencil, brush that you have or leave them aside for just the fingers. Let them draw their own dots and shape them as they want but walk along with them, not in front of them nor behind them. Be their friend and encircle their dots with your love.
I have reached the last page of today’s journal. As I reflect on what I have penned I realize I would still want you to dust the books of your childhood and refresh their memories with your children. If you find that too challenging pick the ones listed above. These are not just for your little ones but perhaps more for you.
Keep being a reader and you will know what inspiration you can be for your children.