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Monday, October 19

Stories Give Children Wings to Fly Around the World



Travel is the best way to learn about other cultures and lifestyles, but this isn’t always possible, especially for children. The next best way is to read about other people and many children love-fascinating stories about far-away places. Movies and books for children that are full of adventures in other countries such as those written by Nabila Khashoggi are one way to help children become aware of other lifestyles.

Culture is often defined as shared interpretations about values, norms and beliefs on which a large group of people agree. Some people define culture as an ice burg with only the tip visible or as an onion that has layer after layer. Either way, when children learn about differences as well as commonalities at a young age, they become more open and interested adults.

Teaching Diversity

Through their own actions, parents can help their children understand different cultures. For example, when a child’s parents are interested in food from different countries, this opens the way for their children to ask questions and experiment with different tastes.

An attractive world globe is a good addition for any family. A large world map can also serve the same purpose. There are many games children can play that allow for discussions about other countries. They can find the country of origin of their grandparents, neighbors or classmates.

Many people celebrate the same holidays around the world. Each country may have special items that are part of the celebration such as decorations for their homes and special food for the occasion. Children can choose a country, learn about the celebrations and make decorations that are from that country’s traditions.

How Stories Help

Many cultures have folk tales that use local traditions to tell stories about how people live and deal with problems in life. These stories illuminate other cultures and allow children to get another perspective. For example, in a classroom, the teacher can tell a short tale from another culture. The teacher can use a map to illustrate where the country is and even have several photographs to help the children visualize the story. When the teacher finishes telling the story, the students can be asked how they feel about the story. This allows them to think as well as imagine in the context of another culture.

Some of the things children learn when they are exposed to stories from different cultures and traditions are:

• The recognition of the dignity of all people – children learn that in other countries children have adventures and fun

• Empathy and compassion for the children involved in the thrills and challenges of the stories

• Knowledge of differences helps children see individuals more clearly

• Purposefully learning about other cultures makes it an important part of life – parents and teachers intentionally introduce children to these stories to make it central to learning and not a one-time experience

Many children learn to read quicker and enjoy reading more when they learn through books that appeal to their interests. As schools and classrooms become increasingly culturally diverse, it is more important than ever to introduce children to different cultures and traditions, so they can learn to understand how others think, solve problems and deal with their local climate, clothing and food.

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