There is a certain magic in stories. For one, it can transport you to magical places in an instant! And wouldn’t it be lovely to share this joy with your child?
As a book lover, trying to raise a little reader, I try to pick books that take us (yes, ‘us’ because reading to us is a journey that V and I have taken on) to different places. For a two and half year old who hasn’t seen much of the world it is a wonderful promising adventure to hear and read about places that I hope he will see in his lifetime. Add to that the magic of folk lore. As a story lover, I have grown up on a staple of Indian mythology and folk tales. And who hasn’t? However, as a story teller I find it equally exhilarating to discover stories from different parts of the world.
This week we travelled all the way to Africa to find a story. We picked an Usborne First Reading Book from our friendly neighbourhood children’s library Buzzing Books.
The Little Giraffe is an endearing folk-tale from Africa, retelling the remarkable story of how the world’s first ‘little’ giraffe became tall! The Little Giraffe and his best friend Rhino are very, very hungry. What happens next changes their lives forever. The story is that of a little Giraffe, who happens to be the world’s Giraffe! He is a little Giraffe and does not have a long neck and long legs. Together with his best friend Rhino he goes around the dry, parched and of the forest looking for food. But the harsh sun makes it difficult for anything to grow. The two friends remain hungry and sad.
One day the two friends decide to go the wise old man in the village and seek his help. The wise old man asks them to visit him the next day and promises to brew up a magic drink for him. The next day, however, only the Giraffe lands up at the old man’s door. The old man gives the bowl of magic drink to the Giraffe. As he finishes drinking it, the little Giraffe begins to grow. His neck grows longer and his legs grow taller. And very soon, he resembles the Giraffe we all know of! The old man tells him that now the Giraffe can reach up to the leaves up high in the trees. Now he won’t have to go hungry any more!
When the Rhino meets the Giraffe he asks him what happened! The Giraffe tells him about the magic drink and that there is none of it left! The Rhino is left eating the dry grass. He is furious with the wise old man, his friend the ‘not-so-little’ Giraffe and even with himself!
And that’s the reason why he is still very angry today!
Why The Little Giraffe
The Little Giraffe as a story works for me and here are my reasons:
1) To a young reader, it works beautifully because it has animals he is familiar with
2) It is a story that answers questions like, “Why does the Giraffe have a long neck?”
3) It is a story about friendship
4) It is a story about food and nutrition
5) It is a story about thoughtful behaviour
There are many lessons from this simple story, and depending on your child’s age you can introduce them at the appropriate age. This book is therefore suitable for ages 1- 6.
Mommy’s Story Telling Technique
As a story teller, I try to pick stories that I can dramatise or show. The Little Giraffe worked beautifully thanks to wooden animal blocks that we have in our home. I used the wooden Rhino and Giraffe and puppets in my story telling and shared the story with my son.
And even though he is a child who love his juices, I particularly spoke to him about the magical juice that the Giraffe drank. I told him if he keeps drinking the magical juices we give him he would grow up to be tall and healthy like the Giraffe.
The novelty of reading a book adds to the magic of story telling. When I read The Little Giraffe for the first time, I realised that it is a lovely book to teach three very important things.
1) Importance of Food – It is important for a child to understand the importance of food. It is also important for a child to understand the significance of hunger. As parents, we hope, pray and try our best to never have a hungry child. But it is also important to teach a growing child to identify the signs of hunger. From being fussy and picky eaters, to forgetting food in the middle of play, we mothers have a lot to deal with anyway! So when there is a story that talks about how it is to not have food and stay hungry, it becomes an important read!
2) Friendship – How do you teach a child to be a good friend? Difficult isn’t it? But maybe through this story of friendship you can share a thing or two. By telling him / her that the Giraffe should have shared the magic drink with his best friend Rhino! After all, they were in it together. Or by talking about how the Giraffe could use his long neck to tear leaves from the trees and share them with his friend Rhino? Fantastic, isn’t it? Or how about the Rhino forgiving his friend Giraffe for drinking the magic drink alone?
3) Actions & Reactions – Anger is a very natural emotion. And children experience it more than we imagine them to. Anger is a negative emotion and therefore it is important for us to teach them how to manage it. To begin with, this story teaches a child that the Rhino forgot about the old wise man. He found dry grass on the way and he chose to eat it instead. The Giraffe kept the meeting and that is why he went ahead had the large share of the magic drink. The mistake was clearly the Rhino’s! As Giraffe’s best friend he should be happy for him,instead of being angry. Being angry at the wise old man is also of no use, because he clearly asked for the Rhino. He let the Giraffe drink the whole lot of the magic drink! It is also of now use to be angry at oneself, because not just does it push away friends and loved ones, it also makes one bitter.
About the Publisher
I particularly like the Usborn collection of books. There is one for all kinds of readers and there a definite thought that has gone behind the making of these books. The Usborn Reading Program has thoughtfully researched and adapted books for its varied readers. The illustrations are bright and friendly, enough to tickle the little reader. The language, presentation and intent is to equip a reader with necessary reading skills. Some of the books also come with puzzles at the end of the book that help a child refresh his memory with regard to images, words and sentences that he has just read.
About On-board the Mommyship & Buzzing Books
I am delighted to collaborate with Dr Neha Gupta at Buzzing Books. With our common love for Children’s Literature, reading, storytelling and pro-parenting we have decided to come together.
We are happy to announce the first of our BUZZING BEES Workshop for Mothers & Babies on 7th an 8th Feb. Head over to our events page on Facebook for more information. Or write to me at rituparnaghosh (at) outlook (dot) com.
Don’t forget to check my story telling page – GOLPO for updates on upcoming events.
Buzzing Books a.k.a BB is an online book rental service, especially designed for children from toddlers to teens to enrich their reading experience. To cut it short, it is a CHILDREN’S LIBRARY, first of its kind in NOIDA! BB services all of Noida and several parts of Delhi. Got questions? This will help you.