So we went to the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature at the weekend, mostly to see some Barefoot Books authors in action – Clare Beaton’s illustration all in fabrics (which you got to try), renditions of the catchy new Port Side Pirates and One City, Two Brothers, the tale about Jerusalem.
One storyteller started with the opening gambit ‘what stories do you tell your children and what should you not tell them’ and invited us to think about what you withhold and why. I have long believed that children can cope with more than we imagine but only if given to them in the right way. Research shows that images from TV are absorbed by the frontal lobes of the brain and the brain doesn’t have time to vet or screen them. Images from storytelling can be ignored by children if they can’t deal with them.
The fact that the storyteller then went on to tell a graphic and gruesome tale about a child-eating teacher illustrates when you should curb your tendencies to tell more disturbing stories but it did make me think about how we explain death, birth, divorce, work and poverty to name a few…
As Gabe is coming up to 5 he is starting to ask a few questions about these things. Explaining why we both work part time to be with them was tricky and I heard him telling a friend the other day that his parents don’t earn much and are poor! It didn’t really bother me and better than saying we’re rich I suppose! Anyway, how much do you tell your children about those tricky topics? Do you come at it straight, no sugar coating (as many people I know do) or does the stork bring babies and are dead bunnies really ‘sleeping’?