Five stories for talking about emotions!
In a previous blog, we discussed how stories and imagination can provide much-needed escapism in during difficult times. However, stories offer far more than just a distraction – they are an excellent starting point for talking about and dealing with emotions.
Schools teach Physical, Social, and Health Education as part of the curriculum. This includes lessons about keeping healthy and safe, relating to others – and managing our emotional state. Discussing the stories your children read is an excellent way of building PSHE skills – and as current events have proved, being mindful about one’s emotions is vital!
After reading a story with your child, why not ask them what different characters might have been feeling at different points in the story, and why. How they would feel in similar situations, and what they would do? Here are some of the stories featured in Storytime that are particularly appropriate:
Hansel and Gretel
Grimm’s fairy tales often feature children in scary situations, and Hansel and Gretel (which featured in Storytime issue 13) is a classic example. It has fantastical elements (including a witch and a magical gingerbread house) but it also deals with fears that all children deal with, particularly fear of abandonment. It also provides an opportunity to discuss another important issue: being aware of stranger danger.
The story of Tom Thumb (told in Storytime issue 35) is one that all kids could identify with. Just like Tom, they live in a world that is too big for them, a world that they do not understand and is full of potential dangers. Tom deals with feelings of fright, abandonment, and not being in control, which would be familiar to all kids. We suggest reading this story with your child and asking them about the bits they really identified with. The story also teaches another lesson: children can learn to deal with the world on their own terms, just like the story’s minuscule hero!
Jack Makes the Princess Laugh
Jack Makes the Princess Laugh (Storytime issue 59) is about a boy who trades the family cow for a magic harp and some performing animals – but we would like to talk about the princess that he wins the heart of! She hadn’t laughed for seven years, and it took a performance by Jack and his animal as well as a bit of dancing magic from his harp to make her laugh three times!
Being sad, grouchy or depressed like the princess is a part of our life, but identifying when we or others are sad and finding ways to get them out of it is vital. We may not have dancing animals or a magic harp like Jack does, but we can use laughter and music to feel better. A favourite comedy show or putting on music and having a good old dance is an excellent cure – and they work even better if you share the experience with someone else!
The Secret Garden
Classic children’s novels are classic for a reason – because they have connected with generations of kids! One that might be especially relevant at the moment is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. (We liked it so much, we introduced the first chapter in Storytime issue 10.)
It’s the story of young Mary Lennox who is kept in isolation following an epidemic. She feels lonely, sad, and unwanted by a friendship with the gardener and two young boys. Though it was written a century ago, this story has a lot that children of today might identify with and want to talk about! Mary learns to become a better and kinder person by relating to other people, and that applies as much today as it did then.
For a more recent (and futuristic!) example of a story that might be used to discuss emotions is Moving Day, a story from our latest issue! It’s about a boy named Isaac, who is forced to leave his friends behind when he and his parents go to help colonize Mars. He has to deal with loneliness and boredom on the flight, but after arriving on Mars he makes a new friend in a very unexpected way.
This story is about a very common situation that many children have faced (moving to a new town or country), but its sci-fi setting gives it a fun new twist. After reading the story, why not ask your children about Isaac’s emotions, and whether they can identify with them.
Can you think of any fictional stories that helped you to think about emotions or deal with problems you faced? If so, tell us in the comments!