Books for Raising Conflict-Sensitive and Peace Promoting (CSPP) Kids

Last week, in my Peace Quote Musing on a Monday post, I raised the following question:

How do we raise children who would choose integrity, fairness, and generosity so that he or she might contribute to a just society; choose dialogue, collaboration and other peaceful means of resolving conflict so that there would be no more war; choose to protect this earth so that all may have enough?

As many peace education advocates would opine,  the ability of young people and adults to make decisions that would contribute to a culture of peace lies on their education.

To raise children who are conflict-sensitive, who are able to identify manifestations of violence and conflict, we have to encourage their inquisitiveness and sharpen their ability to critically think about relevant social 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 nurture them to learn courage and compassion and skills to resolve issues using non-violent means (i.e. dialogue, negotiation).

This is a huge undertaking but it can be done. Let’s start with something simple – some books for our storytelling session, whether at home or inside the classroom!

Below are three of my recommended stories which are still currently available in major bookstores here in the Philippines. For each of these animal stories, I have provided a synopsis (in a nutshell); what I discovered about their potential to teach peace (Peace AHA!); and some questions you may use to explore with your kids some behaviors, attitudes and skills related to building peace.

PARADISE OF THE ANIMALS

IMG_6994
Story by Virgilio S. Almario;
Illustrations by Joanne de Leon;
Published by Adarna House;
Recommended for children ages 8 and above.

In a nutshell:
“Animals once lived together happily and peacefully in Paradise” until the day that the Parrot arrived and told stories that were not true. This sparked mistrust and created divisions among the animals which later escalated into a fierce battle among animals.

Peace AHA!
The story provided a good contrast of what it is like to live peacefully together and live in conflict with others. Specifically, it would be good to explore the feelings and behaviors of the animals during these different times in their lives:

  • Animals live in harmony when they were still able to share Paradise’s resources with each other as this passage says: “Everyone weak and strong, big and small, shared their food with the rest.”
  • Animals live in harmony when they accept and respect each others’ differences as these passages illustrate: “They were different yet they treated each other with respect. They understood one another even if they spoke and thought in different ways. They accepted one another. They tolerated one another’s likes and dislikes, no matter how odd, as long as no one was harmed.”
  • Animals lived in conflict “when they came to mistrust and think ill of one another” then others became violent while those that got hurt became angry and fearful.
  • Animals were unable to resolve their conflict when they ceased to talk and listen to each other.

Possible questions to ask kids:

  • How would you describe the relationship of the animals when they were still living peacefully together?
  • What broke the relationship among the animals?
  • How could the animals mend their broken relationships?
  • What do you think Elephant could have done to make his interventions to promote peace successful?

SI BAS BAYABAS AT ANG TROPANG OK
(Bas Guava and the OK Group)

IMG_6989

Story by Luis P. Gatmaitan, M.D.;
Illustrations by Raketshop Studio;
Published by OMF Literature Inc. for Hiyas
Bi-lingual (English and Tagalog);
Recommended for children ages 7 and above.

In a nutshell:
Animals with disabilities were being ridiculed and ostracized by other animals in the farm of Mang Bayani. Fortunately, they found solace under the shade of Bas, the guava, and found new friends among each other. In spite of their disabilities, they actually helped save the farm from burning down.

Peace AHA!
The story highlighted the importance of seeing people with disabilities as people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They may be vulnerable but they have other capacities and deserve to be heard, supported, and included. There are many like them in our society and ensuring that their needs are met makes development more inclusive, thus building just peace for all.

The story could be a springboard to explore your kid’s feelings towards people with disabilities or other vulnerable people in general and begin to reinforce positive behavior towards them.

Possible questions to ask kids:

  • What do you think of the Tropang OK?
  • Do you know or have seen anyone with disabilities? How do you feel or think about them?
  • How do you think you can show your support to people with disabilities in a way that they will feel dignified?

ANG HUKUMAN NI SINUKUAN
(Court of Sinukuan)

IMG_6990Story retold by Virgilio S. Almario;
Illustrated again by Mitzi Villavecer;
Published by Adarna House
Bi-lingual (English and Tagalog);
Recommended for children ages 7-9.

In a nutshell:
This is a story of a vengeful mosquito and how his anger caused trouble among other animals in Mount Arayat. After processing the incident with everyone involved, Maria Sinukuan, the queen of Mount Arayat, punished the mosquito and asked him to pay for the damages he has caused.

Peace AHA!
Although the story is intended for teaching about justice and resolving disputes in the proper venue, it is an interesting story to explore how conflict begins and escalates.

  • Unexamined perception could trigger conflict. Many of the animals involved in the story acted out of fear: Frog was afraid that Turtle’s house would fall on him; Turtle was afraid that Firefly might burn his house; and Firefly was afraid that Mosquito will stab him with his bolo. Their lack of understanding of each other’s nature and misguided assumptions caused them to be scared and suspicious of each other’s motive. There is an apparent lack of communication that could have clarified their assumptions and fear.

    On the other hand, it is important also to note that fear because of threat to security cannot be ignored, whether the threat is real or perceived. To feel safe is an important indicator of peace and a fundamental right! I think teachers and parents can use this to ask kids what they think would make them feel safe or to describe instances when they felt unsafe. This could perhaps lead to a discussion on bullying at school or other forms of threats that children experience. As this  may be  a sensitive discussion, handle this discussion with extra care and check for signs of stress.

    For older school kids, this story has potential as springboard to explore the essence of security beyond physical safety, which is to include other fundamental human rights (or child’s rights) and “access to other opportunities and choices essential to achieving full human potential.”[1] This will provide a broader perspective on what it really means to have peace. Of course these are tough topics to jump into and would require longer time to process so this can be a follow-through activity in a classroom setting.

  • Violence will not resolve conflict. Mosquito was very angry of Talangka, the crab, who tried to snip him with his pincers one day. His anger made him vengeful and careless with his weapon. The story teaches that violence will not resolve conflict and that one needs to practice self-control, to refrain from reacting rashly. The story can also be a springboard to explore with children other non-violent means of resolving conflict such as dialogue.

Possible questions to ask kids:

  • Why was Mosquito punished by Maria Sinukuan?
  • If you were Mosquito, what could you have done to resolve your conflict with Talangka?
  • What can you possibly do to control your frustration/anger so you don’t act rashly or violently?
  • Do you think Frog has a reason to be scared of Turtle? Why?
  • Try relating to the feeling of fear of the animals in the story. Were there instances when you feel unsafe and afraid?

In all of these stories, communication is a key component in resolving conflict in a non-violent way. For students to benefit more from the lessons of these stories, it may be good to add a follow-up activity such as role play where students can use their creativity in simulating dialogue among conflicting parties.

Well, that’s it folks. I hope these recommendations will be helpful and will get you started with raising more conflict-sensitive and peace promoting (CSPP) kids. Let’s work for a peaceful society one story at a time. Happy reading!

 -ems, #iamforpeace

[1][1] Annan, Kofi, 2000. United Nations Millenium Report. (Human Security).

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2 thoughts on “Books for Raising Conflict-Sensitive and Peace Promoting (CSPP) Kids

  1. Hi Emily. I purposely opened your blog to ask for suggested children story books that could be used to raise awareness on peace. And here it is! My colleague based in Davao spearheaded peace story telling in Day Care centers in some PAMANA barangays as part of the Peace Month Celebration. We are planning to have this as a regular activity of the inter-agency Serbisyo Peace Caravans, and also to tap some partners (youth groups/academe) to conduct peace story telling in our PAMANA areas. As we do the story telling, we hope to leave some books to the teachers so they can continue the story telling centered on teaching CSPP.

    Thanks for posting these books and for providing guide key points and questions.

    I wonder if you have more books to suggest…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Eileen! I’m glad you found something useful here for your team’s peace education activities. Kudos to your colleague who spearheaded this initiative. It’s a fun way to introduce concepts of peace and conflict and nurture children’s critical thinking which is an essential skill in promoting a culture of peace.

    I will be posting more stories so watch out for this. You might like to also explore the following organizations:

    1) UNICEF published a good story entitled Ang Dalawang Haring Siga. It’s no longer in circulation but you could request for permission to use.
    2) Teach Peace Build Peace Movement — I think they developed peace stories for children in 2011.
    3) Kids for Peace based in Cotabato has big books for peace.
    4) EcoWeb based in Iligan also has a children storybook on conflict transformation.

    You might like to also partner with book publishers for your book drive.
    All the best to your team. Cheers!

    Like

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