Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Six

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Today I will be summarizing and discussing the sixth chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every few weeks and would love you to join in with your reflections in the comments section.

Chapter Six: Word Magic – The Sanctuary of Stories

Entering the Sanctuary of Stories

  • Through stories, parents can speak to a child’s more dreamy, spiritual side
  • Folktales, myths and ancient holy stories reflect spiritual realities and moral truths
  • They provide children with internal pictures that inspire their imaginations
  • “Guide our children toward spiritual wisdom through the art of ancient storytelling” p.91

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Stories

  • Darian tells of her Grandfather and how he used to tell her stories from his beloved Bible.
  • She realizes now the way he related the stories to her was how he lived by example the ideals that were presented in each one.
  • Her grandfather was a man who strived to live by his values. The Bible stories were his anchor and daily reminders of how he wanted to live.

Seeking Wisdom in Stories

  • In selecting stories for a child it is important to consider their worldview and stage of development
  • A deep sense of trust for the world is important in early childhood- undramatic stories are best for young children with nature themes and simple plots
  • From 4-9 children are nourished by folktales that include an obstacle to overcome- always with a resolution- these allow children to experience the strength of the human spirit and triumph of good over evil as well as the personal transformations that occur when we act from a place of goodness and courage
  • Folktales symbolically transform the destructive qualities children find within themselves and the world
  • Stories of Saints or Legends are nourishing for children ages 7-8- people who have served humanity and have demonstrated self-sacrifice and a connection with a higher power
  • From age 9 and up children do not need a ‘happy ending’ any longer and have the emotional capacity to process pain, suffering and sorrow. Native American Legends as well as stories from the Old Testament are recommended for this age.
  • From ages 10-12 children love mythological stories (Mayan, Greek, Norse, Roman).
  • As children get older it is inspiring to hear biographies with extraordinary people from history

The Wonder of Age-Appropriate Stories

  • The author expresses that she believes waiting for the developmentally right time to share certain stories is important
  • The author provides a Guide to Storytelling: tell stories you already know, choose age appropriate stories, memorise as opposed to read when you can, when memorizing read the story several times and visualize it in your ind’s eye, don’t overdramatize the story, don’t question or overanalyze a story, have fun!

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Stories

  • Create stories to approach challenging situations instead of lecturing and directly speaking about a problem
  • Create a family story circle in which you each share stories from your daily lives. You could have a theme for the circle. For example, “the greatest day of my life” or “My funniest memory” etc.
  • Tell folklore about your own family’s stories, interview grandparents about their youth
  • Sometimes the best stories of all are the ones we allow to spontaneously come to us in a moment of need
  • A simple song to go along with a story can add beauty and interest

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only

  • Journal you’re earliest memories in order to gather stories we wish to pass on to our children
  • Create a portrait of yourself and a landscape of the early years  through to adulthood (a biography)
  • deal with the lessons of your own biography yourself before sharing more deep or troubling stories with your children

I have seen the powerful and often healing effects of stories in our family. I speak more about it in the post, How to Craft a Healing Story for your Child. There was a lot of powerful information in this post and yet it seemed to only touch the surface. Another book i found utterly inspiring about the power of stories for adults is Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarisa Pinkola Estes.

I have did a lot of personal biography work during my Steiner Studies in Biography. It was deeply informative and healing and I recommend it to everyone. In fact, I feel the call to look at it again and to pick up where I left off after reading this chapter.

How do stories enrich your lives at home? Were you aware of the importance of choosing storylines and themes based on your child’s developmental age and stage?

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.com. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. amazon.ca and amazon.uk Thank you for your support.

“Quotes from Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian used by permission. Copyright 2011 by Charlene DeShea Bagbey Darian. Revised 2nd Edition.”

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

2 Comments

  1. Lori on January 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Hello, Thank you so much for the work you put into this space. Your perspective has helped shape my parenting in a lovely way over the years. Is there a collection of stories you could recommend for a 4 year old?

    • Meagan on January 27, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Hi Lori,

      Thanks for your kind words. Healing Stories by Susan Perrow has a series of nourishing stories. Nursery Rhymes and simple Fairytales are nice for this age. The Grimms Fairytales are more for 5 and up. Elsa Beskow and Sybelle Von Olfers have written some really gorgeous and nourishing storybooks for this age too. Hope this helps! Meagan.

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