Sunday, February 18, 2007

Stories my son needs......and words my daughter doesn't!

As some of you know this blog not only re-lives the "out of the mouth of babes" comments that I experience being the mama of three talkative smalls, but also, occasionally, I drop in a more serious post, or something a little theoretical open for discussion. Today is a more serious post, albeit I AM going to start with this little gem from I.

If you have been reading the last couple of entries, you will know that she has been struggling with tr and f, getting them mixed up. This lunchtime we were putting on our outdoor stuff to meet friends for lunch. The boys have just been bought some "trekking boots" which they LOVE to wear and take even bigger pride in telling everyone that that is exactly what they are "trekking boots". We also bought a pair of similar style for I.

"Mama...........where my f***ing boots?"

It still needs SEEEEERRRRIous work!

Now to the science bit!!


I have been introduced to a great little resource, that I personally feel would do well on the shelf of any parents with sons: "What stories does my son need?" by Michael Gurian. Yes, the same guy I rambled on about a few posts back!!

This is a book that loosely guides parents in their choices of books and movies that build character in their sons. It is not, I feel, without it's flaws:

1. It is American, so maybe some of the movies in particular, would be different choices in the UK?

2. It is not a finite list, there may also be (as he states) other books/movies that build similar character, new books come out all the time, maybe some children (my T. is one) who may not be ready for a certain movie or book at the designated time span.

3. Some of the books are now movies which are NOT on the same level as the book, so to exchange one for the other would be a mistake: Bridge to Terabithia (albeit i haven't seen it) I understand is one such book.

I think it is an ongoing book that I know I may add to and also edit if I feel certain books/movies inappropriate, but it is a great tool. I have actually bought my mum, sister and a girlfriend with a son a copy each too!

So; one of the movies recommended for T's age is E.T. Initially I wasn't sure that it would be appropriate, bearing in mind that although this child has a "reading age" of an 8/9 year old, his movie repetoire is much younger.

The book (WSDMSN?) has discussion points for after the movie or book that helps your child to think more deeply about the emotions of the characters, hopefully building up character.

With E.T. the idea is that the boys will start to think about the friendship that Elliot has with ET, maybe think about whether the government officials who try to capture E.T are "bad", how long distance friendships can be maintained (one of the reasons I chose this movie obviously!) and build up empathy for the characters rather than seeing it as "goodies and baddies fight aliens and each other end of!"

Now, bear in mind, my boys like to ask questions, so I hoped that it would be easy to talk about the movie afterwards..........however, the questions started at the opening credits and didn't finish once the screen went blue.......... "How is this going to happen.?" "Why is he.......?" "What is going.........?" Breathe, breathe but OMG.the.non.stop.questions aaaggghhhh!!!!!!!

Anyway, back to the topic in hand..........

W. is somewhat of a combateer, and after watching the movie, which they found sad but still liked it, T. decided to go and write the next chapter of a book he is working on (this chapter is suitably titled "Al meets E.T") , W. came through with his wooden sword saying he was going to play "E.T fights the bad men". Ugh! Not really what I wanted to hear........but it so beautifully lead us to a great discussion about how E.T. really did "fight" the government guys, how he had the best "weapon" of all, he had a Friend. Having a friend in Elliot who was prepared to help him to the very end was the best form of "sword". He didn't need to raise his fists but they did it together as a team.

I strongly feel that what kids watch (and to a certain extent read) does influence their behaviour, maybe negatively outright ie: fighting, bullying etc, but also less obviously such as showing a lack of empathy to others, an inability to express themselves, a lack of emotion because "boys are tough". I am not suggesting for a second that I am going to censor all my kid's viewing forevermore and edit their reading because I am not, but I hope that having family movies together and discussing their reading material (also providing appropriate stuff) I can help them make good choices and use their knowledge of "good" media to inspire to or find their own ideas, thus hopefully encouraging them to be compassionate men, (and women of course, mustn't forget my daughter in this!).

If you haven't read this book, or for that fact, any of Michael Gurian's work, I would strongly recommend you try one. He isn't preachy or self-righteous, he writes in a way that you can pick up and put down ( a necessity with smalls!) and don't need a degree in psychology to understand.

Yours inspiringly
The Beehive

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