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Catholic Activity: Preschool Parent Pedagogy: Lessons from Books



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This parent pedagogy helps us understand the importance of books, particularly those about saints and their stories, in the raising of our children. Covered here are the topics: "moral help from books" and "how to use a book."


Saints and Stories

Last month we recommended the purchase of stories of saints to be read and told to young children. Fortunately for us of the twentieth century, many saints' lives are being written in a bright attractive style, and the saints, the heroes and heroines of the Church, are becoming family characters in many a household. Mothers of babies today should realize their good fortune and make use of these attractive books.

Moral Help from Books

You may preach to a child about honesty, truthfulness, politeness, or any other virtue; but he will practice it much more readily if he has heard a story about children who are truthful, honest, polite and good. A moment's thought reminds us that of course children copy others and learn by imitation. They always want to be like the children in the books. So be sure that you make careful choice of all the books your little one has read to him.

So important is this matter of imitation that parents might be interested to know that the American Indians realized that the best way to make a boy brave and a great chieftain was to tell him stories about older boys who had done brave deeds and endured great hardships. An old Indian chief told an American explorer that he became the leader of his people because once on the march, when the whole tribe was moving to fresh pastures, he had overheard some older people talking about a certain youth who had proved himself to be a very swift runner and a fearless hunter. He said that from the moment of that conversation he had become a different boy and had never stopped trying to copy the heroic example of the older youth.

If even the Indians made use of the desire to imitate which is in all children, why should not we find books with good models for our own little ones?

How to Use a Book

The plan as sketched in the March section is for the parent to read or tell the story. Every mother should aim to have a set time for this occupation. The best hour is usually around 4:30 or 5:00 o'clock, when the children come in from the fresh air, just before their supper. Fifteen minutes or a half-hour is plenty of time and will not interfere with supper and bed.

Telling stories at bedtime, after supper, is not a sensible plan, because the children, instead of yielding to sleepiness and going off to bed quietly, have their little brains stimulated and often lie awake thinking of the stories.

Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938