For thousands of years, humans have been expressing wisdom to each other through fables. Whether it’s Aesop or the Bible or Leonardo da Vinci or Hans Christian Anderson, smart writers have been packaging moral lessons in the form of quaint little stories or parables.
And, for just as long, parents have been passing these fables onto their children.
But for whatever reason, this form of storytelling has lost favor. The stories are violent, people complain, or a tad dark. They’re full of weird historical anachronisms. They aren’t funny. Where are the pictures?!
But Washington didn’t really chop down the cherry tree.
Talk about missing the point. Our job as parents is to teach our kids the timeless truths of the world. It doesn’t matter that the Frog and the Scorpion didn’t really exist—what matters is that we have to see people’s true nature. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in God or not, the lessons in the Bible have served humanity very well over thousands of years.
Make an effort to start bringing these fables into your house. You can listen to them on Spotify in the car. You can read them together before bed. Or you can tell the stories yourself from memory. Don’t just focus on the plot. Talk about the lessons too—talk to them about Da Vinci’s fable of the stone and its message about the importance of solitude and quiet. Talk about the Fox and the Stork, and how when you play a prank, you’ll get pranked too. Talk about “sour grapes.”
Teach them about the world through ridiculous stories. It’s a grand tradition…and a critical part of growing up.
The Painted Porch has a great children’s section that includes classic fables like Aesop, The Secret Garden, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and more. And if you are looking for monthly reading recommendations for both you and your children, sign up for Ryan Holiday’s FREE Reading List Email.