Do your children love to hear stories? In this post we will read a quotation about the benefits of sharing Bahá’í stories with children and explore tools for implementing the practice of storytelling into our family’s routine.
Storytelling is a popular habit in most families. Whether it’s in the morning, before nap time, or before bed time, children love hearing stories. Nowadays we often rely on books to read our children stories however, as it is encouraged in Ruhi Book 3 and Ruhi Book 4, it is also valuable for us to learn Bahá’í stories by heart. Referring to the examples of the Central Figures of the Faith we are reminded about how to lead our lives and what the purpose of life really is. How wonderful would it be for our children to learn these stories and be able to recall them throughout their lives.
[quote]The Master used to attach much importance to the learning by heart of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh an the Báb. During His days it was a usual work of the children of the household to learn Tablets by heart’ now, however, those children are grown up and do not have time for such a thing. But the practice is most useful to implant the ideas and spirit those words contain into the mind of the children.
With ‘the Dawn- Breakers’ in your possession you could also arrange interesting stories about the early days of the Movement which the children would like to hear. There are also stories about the life of Christ, Muhammad and the other Prophets which if told to the children will break down any religious prejudice they may have learned from older people of little understanding.[/quote]
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of West Englewood, October 19, 1932, Lights of Guidance, p. 150)
Kids really do love to hear stories. As parents (and particularly fathers) we can have a huge positive impact on our children’s lives just by spending a few minutes a day sharing a story from the history of the Faith in our own words or from a book. One of my favourite stories was the one about Abdu’l-Baha being so generous that when He saw a poor man in the streets of Dublin with broken trousers, that He unbuttoned his cloak, took off His OWN trousers and gave them to the man!
One way we try to engage our children in the story is to act out parts whenever possible. Such as giving a hug, pretending to wash hands, or doing something else that is part of the story.
You could even take your stories one step further by trying to re-live parts of the story with your kids during the day. For example “remember son how generous Abdu’l-Baha was to the poor man with broken trousers, why don’t we practice generosity by giving your younger brother the bigger piece of… cake.” 🙂
Since adding the night time routine of telling a story from the Faith (from two storybook collections we have on ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Baha’u’llah) before evening prayers, we have noticed a difference in the amount of times we mention the Central Figures during the day. Talking about Them every night with our kids brings Their example and wisdom into our home a bit more.
Telling stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Bahá’í history can connect your children’s hearts to the Faith and give you a chance to share what is really important in life. Listen to this song dedicated to the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels to the West, to remind yourself of the power of these stories and how many people learn from His example.
Here are some other resources (websites, audio materials, and books) for learning Bahá’í stories:
- Soni Reads is a blog by 5 year old Soni and her mother Bre, who are compiling videos of Soni reading Bahá’í stories
- Bahá’í Stories is an online compilation of written Bahá’í stories (original sources included) searchable by topic
- Audio stories by Sarah Percival, two volumes focused on Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which you can purchase and download online
- Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and many other collections of stories by Jacqueline Mehrabi
- Stories about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by Gloria Faizi
- Daily Reflections and Stories for Bahá’í Children, Books 1, 2, and 3
- Check with your local Bahá’í Distribution Service for availability of these and many more Bahá’í children’s story books.
Some parents may wish to simply learn stories from books they are reading for their own deepening, such as Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh or Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. As you read, look out for stories which your children may also enjoy and make an effort to learn them by heart.
If you are learning the stories from text, consider this approach: Read the story, try to tell it in your own words without looking at the page, re-read the story, and then practice telling it in your own words one more time. After this you are ready to share it with your children! Just be sure the story is age-appropriate for your child, focusing on instilling love for the Central Figures of the Faith during the early years. More historical elements can be learned when they are a bit older.
If you are telling stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, you may like to have a photograph of Him to look at as you tell stories together.
Questions for Reflection
Our children understand priorities in life by watching us and learning how we spend our time. What do we usually do as a family? Is there any way we can add more spiritual elements into our daily interactions?
Storytelling is a way to connect hearts to the Faith. How can I use stories to help my children learn lessons while also reminding me about the true meaning of tests and difficulties in my own life?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.enablemetogrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/zafandchels.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]This post was written by Zafar and Chelsea, a couple living in Australia who have a four year old and a one year old. They share thoughts through the Daddy’s Tool Box, a series of posts that share Bahá’í quotations and ideas about how we can practically implement the guidance into our homes. Click here for more information and to see a list of Daddy’s Tool Box posts.[/author_info] [/author]
What Bahá’í stories has your family enjoyed? Do you have a routine of telling Bahá’í stories in your household? Do you have any favorite resources? Please share in the comments.