Some people have habits that annoy us and challenge our patience, sense of humor, and kindness. Some have bad reputation — whether labels thrown at them are true or not, becoming friends with them comes with some social risks. Will you still be friends with them?
My featured books today tackle this predicament and give us entry points to explore with young ones concrete actions to promote peace. These books are also two of my favorites. They remind me of happy memories, of many firsts and of discovering the joy of peace storytelling.
Aside from the usual ‘in a nutshell,’ peace AHA!, and possible processing questions that I used in my first post on Books for Raising CSPP Kids, I’ve added two more sections here:
- Introduction – This is an optional short interaction with kids to prep them for the storytelling session. You can be as creative as you want here. This may include questions related to the central theme of the story or the main characters. (I learned this technique from Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines.)
- Reflection and Application – This provides an opportunity to explore and deepen discussion about a specific concept on peace or conflict related to the story and encourages commitment to promote peace. If time’s limited, this could be a follow-through activity on another day.
ANG DALAWANG HARING SIGA
Story by Rene O. Villanueva
Illustrations by Ruben de Jesus
Published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)Arranged for UNICEF by Tahanan Pacific, Inc.
Bilingual (English and Tagalog);
Recommended for children ages 7 and above.
*This book is currently not available in local bookstores. It may be possible to seek permit from UNICEF Philippines to use the story.
The following may be used as opening questions to build interest about the story to be told:
- Who among you lives with your grandparents?
- What characteristics of your grandparents do you like?
After some students have responded to the opening questions, tell the students that the story that will be read today will be about two kings who are loving grandfathers to their respective grandchildren. However, something irked them about each other that they decided to rage war with the other.
In a nutshell:
This is the story of two kings who valued their pride more than all the jewels in their kingdom. For as long as people could remember, the two kingdoms were deadlocked in a very silly war. How their fight began is quite hilarious and how they called it quits is quite endearing.
Processing Questions for Kids
- What are the names of the two kings?
- What were the reasons of the two kings for justifying the war that they started?
- What was the advice of others to the two kings?
- Why do you think the two kings have difficulty reconciling?
- How did the two kings patch up their differences?
- What could they have done to avoid raging war?
Although told in a funny way, the story is packed with serious stuff about how conflict begins; why war should be avoided; and how to resolve conflict in a non-violent way. Conflict begins when two people perceives that they have incompatible goals or that the other’s need is a hindrance to meeting his/her needs. The highly entertaining story of Ang Dalawang Haring Siga illustrates this well and tells us of the importance of communication in resolving conflict.
The following are some nuggets of wisdom that can be used for generating comments from kids or to highlight lessons of the story.
- Conflict cannot be avoided because of our innate differences as unique individuals and people of different cultures and experiences. However, violence can be avoided. It is the worst response to conflict.
- Violence will not resolve conflict; it will only aggravate it. In war no one wins, everyone’s a loser.
- Too much pride gets in the way of peace.
- Humility to accept our weaknesses and the kindness to accept our differences are values that we must learn to be able to forgive and make peace.
- There are other peaceful ways of resolving conflict such as dialogue.
- All of us can be a peacemaker/peacebuilder just like the grandchildren of King Porong and King Emong.
Reflection and Application
Draw from the students their insights on peaceful ways of resolving conflict (i.e. dialogue, negotiation). Whenever possible, teachers could add additional input to the discussion. To reinforce learning, students could re-enact Ang Dalawang Haring Siga focusing on how to prevent war using their recommended means of resolving conflict. Selected students can pose as actors while others as observers.
PETER AND AHMED
Story by Jojie Wong;
Illustrations by Kora Dandan-Albano
Published by OMF Literature Inc. for HIYAS
Bilingual (English and Tagalog); Recommended for children ages 8 and above.
*still available in major local bookstores.
Since this is a story of friendship, one possible way to introduce the story is to engage kids to talk about their close friends. The idea here is to surface the good qualities of their friends which are almost always never related to race, ethnicity, religion, physical attribute, gender or status in life. Aside from the issue of prejudice, this is one important message of Peter and Ahmed.
Ask kids if they have a bestfriend or a very close friend. Then request for some kids to share 2 or 3 characteristics that they like most about their bestfriend. Tell the kids that the story for today is about two bestfriends. Why they hit it off the first time and what they enjoyed doing together are two interesting things to watch out for in the story.
In a nutshell
This is a story of friendship between a Muslim and a Christian boy. In spite of the spiteful words that Peter’s neighbours say against the family of Ahmed who’s a Muslim, Peter found a bestfriend in Ahmed. It also helped that Peter’s mother, unaffected by the prejudices of others against Muslims, even encouraged their friendship.
Processing Questions for Kids:
- Who are the best of friends in the story and how did they become friends?
- What do they have in common? What are their differences?
- Do their differences become a hindrance to their friendship?
- What do the neighbors of Ahmed tell about their family? Do you think there is enough basis for their accusations?
- How did the family of Peter treat the family of Ahmed?
The story provides a good springboard to discuss about stereotype and prejudices and how these could lead to discrimination and even violence if they go uncheck. The story of Peter and Ahmed challenges prejudice against Muslims and shows that it is possible for Christian and Muslims to be friends and happily co-exist.
The story promotes tolerance or the “respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of cultures and various forms of human expression (UNESCO, 1995; Castro and Gallace, 2000).
Reflection and Application
Optional for older students: Through a participative discussion, explore with the students different biases/stereotypes (an opinion/judgment about other people that are without the benefit of facts; labels we use which have no basis) about other people or social groups. Ask them how these biases/stereotypes get in the way of creating positive relationships and promoting peace. Explore with kids what they can possibly do to avoid stereotyping.
To wrap up this post, I’d like to share one more tool that could help reinforce lessons learned from peace storytelling. A peace corner may be created inside the classroom where “nuggets of wisdom,” reflections/lessons learned of students, and even commitments to peace can be posted. This could serve as a “wall journal” that teachers could refer back when opportunity comes and a reminder to students about their journey as young peace advocates.
I hope these story options inspire you today. Let’s work for a peaceful society one story at a time. Have fun with your next storytelling session!
 To raise children who are conflict-sensitive, who are able to identify manifestations of violence and conflict, we have to sharpen their critical thinking and enhance their perspective on issues such as human rights, gender equality, social and economic justice, non-violence, sustainable development, etc. To empower them as peace-promoting kids who could act for peace, we must also teach them courage and compassion and skills to resolve issues using non-violent means (i.e. dialogue, negotiation).
 Conflict is the perception of incompatible goals (Galtung, 1969).
 Stereotype refers to the negative opinion about a person or group based on incomplete knowledge. This forms the basis for prejudicial feelings. (Castro and Gallace, 2008).
 Prejudice is the negative feeling or attitude towards a person or a group even if it lacks basis (Allport, 1958; Castro and Gallace, 2008). This may lead to negative action or discrimination.
 Discrimination refers to negative actions toward members of a specific social group that may be manifested in avoidance, aversion or even violence. (Franzoi, 1986; Castro and Gallace, 2008)
 The Center for Peace Education of Miriam College made a survey on common biases about certain groups of people. This can be found in Chapter 6 (Challenging Prejudice and Building Tolerance) of the book of Dr. Loreta Castro and Dr. Jasmin Gallace, Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace. This chapter also provides several recommendations on how to address prejudice and promote tolerance.. (To buy a copy of the book, email CPE through firstname.lastname@example.org; a pdf file is also available for free online.)