How a Tiny Toad Can Help Save the World
In my daycare storytelling zoom class today, I told an old Vietnamese folktale about an environmentally conscientious toad who traveled to heaven during a drought, in order to bring rain to the earth.
The 3 and 4 year olds listened with rapt attention to this complex story of fantastical characters and events. Their imaginations were in full gear as they created mental images of a toad, a bee, a rooster and a tiger successfully climbing to heaven and asking the king for much needed rain. These pre-schoolers effortlessly identified with the courageous tiny toad, as he decided to do the right thing in order to save the world from a devastating environmental catastrophe.
If asked, I’m sure each one of my little listeners would do the same thing, if they were a toad and found themselves in a similar situation. In fact, during those 10 minutes while they listened to the story, I believe each of those children imagined that they were that tiny toad. They took on the impossible and succeeded! How fantastic is that for their developing psyches!
Folktales and stories like this, brilliantly crafted over time and artistically weathered by countless retellings can make a lasting impression on young minds. These young minds will eventually grow up and armed with role models, like the tiny toad, can actually help save the world.
Last night, I watched a tv program about Greta Thunberg, the teenage environmental activist who said the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, had made a profound impact on her as a child. The eighteen year old then went on to say that she uses the story as an inspiration as she voices the truth about climate effects on our environment.
Perhaps in a few years from now, we will be hearing from other teenagers, inspired by Greta (and perhaps a tiny toad,) who are doing great things in our world.