Five children’s classics I want to read to my son
Before the era of smartphones and internet, most of us grew up reading and listening to stories. These are the five books I would love to read to my child.
I am a big fan of stories. Back in the day, my mum, a creative lady, used to narrate a bedtime story every night. I grew up on a staple diet of stories about love, responsibility, good values and morality. I believe that these stories laid a good foundation for me to develop my sense of right and wrong.
Now, when I hold my son, I want him to grow up to be a kind and a compassionate human being, with a good moral compass. The other day, I was discussing this with my family, and we thought that these five story compilations could possibly do the trick!
Baital Pachisi (25 tales of Betaal)
Most of us have read, watched or heard the stories of Raja Vikramaditya and vampire Betaal. The king, to fulfil a promise given to a tantric embarks on a mission to capture Betaal, a vampire that inhabits a tree. On their way back, the captured Betaal tells the king a story that ends with a question. The vampire agrees to go to the tantric meekly if the king is unable to answer the question else he would return to the tree. If, however, the King knows the answer and does not answer, his head would explode.
The stories and questions pose questions based on logic and moral dilemma. I want my son to grow up thinking on the lines of the stories.
This all-time classic is a collection of five themes (5 tantras) and stories within. These stories are being told to three princes, and the aim is to teach them about niti, the art of conduct. The stories highlight the various aspects of human behaviour through animal stereotypes. The book is for children adults alike, and the concept of stories inside stories makes it a unique concept.
Read on for the rest of the books
The tales of Akbar and Birbal
We all have enjoyed the light humoured tales of Akbar and Birbal. Emperor Akbar was fond of posing dilemmas to his court, and Birbal, through his wit and presence of mind, would often find an appropriate solution. These tales have a great entertainment value, and for me, it highlights that one should appreciate good qualities in everybody, irrespective of their social standing.
These are similar in essence to the Panchatantra tales, the difference being the central theme. These are the tales of various incarnations of Gautama Buddha, both in animal and human form, and how he exhibits a virtue we all can inculcate.
Aesop’s fables have quite a few common themes with the Panchatantra and Jataka tales. That said, they are worth a read. His fable, ‘the honest woodcutter’ was one of my favourites growing up. Like others, these stories create a situation requiring an exhibition of virtue.
In today’s world, books, unfortunately, have to compete with audio-visual media. The efforts to engage a kid are much less for a video on the internet than to read a book to the kid. I do not dispute the usefulness of the former in the lives of busy parents. However, books have a potential to take your child on a journey that is limited only by his imagination. It is our duty to leave a better kid for the world as much as it is to leave a better world for our children! I truly believe that these stories have the power to make your kids a better human being.
Do you agree with my list? Let me know about your choice of classics for the children.