This episode of Pregnancy Birth and Beyond we delve into the world of children's stories and more specifically about violence and scary themes in books. Is there any value to violence in stories for children, is scare fest for the sake of entertainment potentially harming children?
In this episode we interview three guests, psychologist & author Robin Grille, children story teller and singer song writer Annie Bryant and luminous youth founder Erica Nettle Chick.
When talking about story, we are referring to both literature and oral story telling. There is a certain magic to the art of oral story telling, especial in the creation of on the spot stories to share with your children. Children's minds are forced to image the imagery, to create their own inner visual experience of the the story being heard.
Annie Bryant shares her experience both professionally as a children's story and singer song writer and as a parent. Annie's story writing is inspired by the natural cycles of life, the natural world, it is about connecting us with nature but also with ourselves. Her work explores both the good times and the stormy times. She says life is filled with death and life every winter to spring. Annie shares that a lot of what her older son is now reading, she finds confronting, stories of fighting, crusade themes, samurais and knights. She goes on to say a friend of hers said that you don't know what he is preparing for in his life and within himself "You at home model great communication, respectful relationships and how to be good human and he will seek whatever else he needs and to trust that." Annie also likens what she reads with her kids to food, she feeds her children nourishing meals and in the same way she sees books as feeding the mind, how will they nourish and lastly it has to be good literature. Anni's book reading list can be found here and include Brambley Hedge: Autumn, Winter, Spring & Summer Story by Jill Barklem, The Kingdom of Silk series by Glenda Millard.
Story as medicine
Erica Nettle Chick refers to story as a form of medicine. Eric gives the analogy of plants as medicine. She says there isn't a rule that applies to everyone, some plants are beneficial to certain people in one situation but not so beneficial to another person in another situation.
Erica proposes that parents think about the medicine in the stories they read or tell their children. Further to the plant analogy, she says would you just let your kids eat whatever plant they want and later go oh oops that was poisonous? The suggestion is to have an awareness of what stories provide children with, how a story guides a child or aids in healing, and how a story will support or nourish them in their development. Eric's family favorite reading series at the moment is The Ringing Cedars Series. Erica, says the series isn't geared towards children however her kids have loved listening to this book series and the wisdom held within the pages.
Robin Grille goes on to share that it was a family ritual for him to read every evening to his daughter. One particular story Robin and his daughter enjoyed reading was the entire Harry Potter series. Robin says that while there are violent and scary themes in the Harry Potter it also contains timeless wisdom... for example, Dumbledoor says “it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your enemies but it takes a lot more courage to stand up to your friends.”
Robin also suggests children's books with an Australian content or more so within the context of the country you live. Robin and his daughter enjoyed immersing in Australian motifs, books filled with artwork of the flora and fauna.
Robin goes on to say, story can have you fall in love with your environment, create a sense of belonging to ecology, to the land you are part off and to the creatures that dwell within that land.
Stories have the potential to open your heart to the realms, to the creatures and beings that surround you.
Robin briefly mentions screen violence which is distinctively different to books and oral story telling yet one can't help but also examine the impact of screen stories. Robin says the jury is out on screen violence, it does desensitize children from violence. This desensitizing doesn't mean kids will go out and commit violence but when confronted with violence they are more likely to turn away. Robin says, that is not what our world needs, the world needs people who can say no to violence “not in my community, I will not stand for this.”
Take a watch of this 1969 video clip of Fred Rogers, host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood children's television program, as he testifies before the Senate Committee, essentially saving Public Broadcasting which was at risk of having 20 million cut from its funding.
NE PLUS ULTRA
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