What answer will you give your child if he or she sees a beggar by the roadside and asks you why people are giving the beggar money? Especially those that are not incapacitated. Remember, the answer you give will go a long way in shaping the way your young child sees anybody begging for alms. Will you say they are helpless and need help? If you say this, are you not telling your child that whenever anybody is helpless, they should stand at the road to beg for money? If you say they are lazy, your child may become judgmental of the less privileged. Therefore, knowing what to say and how to say them is crucial when responding or explaining things to children. Parents must choose their words carefully, avoid ambiguity and embrace clarity so that children can understand the message and the message can resonate long after the discussion.
The same method applies to selecting books for children. The choice of words of the writer matters and it is key to understanding the message hidden in the book or story. We shouldn’t just buy books because they are colourful, we must evaluate the content; the social and moral values, as well as the choice of words to see if they are suitable for our children. I remember trying to read King James Bible when I was in primary school; it was at that point I understood how confused the people building the tower of Babel were after the great confusion! I couldn’t make sense of most of the words.
Recently, I came across a book titled Totally awesome, super-cool bible stories – Nerdy Ned series and I was amazed and blown away by the sense of humor of the writer and how simple, interesting and memorable some bible stories could be for young children. Below is the story of David and Goliath:
The dude, Goliath, was nine feet nine inches tall. Goliath laughed at Israel’s soldiers. I imagine he said something like, “Israel stinks and Saul’s a dummy.” He dared Israel to send just one soldier to fight him. “Send out your best since you’re such chickens!”
Even king Saul was afraid. But young David stepped up “I’ve got this, King. Send me to slay this smelly jerk.” Though Saul thought Goliath would eat the kid in one gulp, David convinced Saul to let him fight. David had a lot of faith in God, so he was confident that he had a major advantage over Goliath.
Goliath took one look at David and was disgusted that the Israelites sent a kid to do a man’s job “Hey Shrimp, do you think I am a dog, that you come at me with a stick?” Goliath used some pretty bad words to make fun of David. But David said to him, “it doesn’t matter how big you are or how many weapons you have, next to God you are tiny” . . .
Imagine telling the above story to a child in theatric voice, do you think the child will ever forget the story? The way the author told the story is witty, easy to follow and understand. Children are likely to recall the story and read more of such stories unlike reading KJV version. I am sure children will be more engaged and entertained by reading the above without missing out on the valuable moral lessons, and trust me, whatever children enjoy, the memory will stay with them.
The bottom line today is, just as you will choose your words carefully when answering a delicate question, you must choose what your children read and watch carefully.