February 17, 2019
To learn to read is to light a fire — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Who doesn’t love to curl up with a beloved child on their lap and a book to share? In today’s Living Arts Weekly blog post, we celebrate the written word. One common misconception of Steiner-based care of the young child is that people think children are not developing literacy skills because they are not overtly taught to read until they enter first grade.
Early literacy in a Steiner-based program comes in the way of healthy movement, stories, nursery rhymes, nature stories, folktales, fairy tales, songs, verses, conversation, repetition, and enjoying a favorite story book on the lap of a caring adult. The young child is bathed in language, creating an understanding of and love for the written and spoken word. What a gift to the child when reading evolves from one’s own curiosity and developmental readiness.
Mary O’Connell, Your Living Arts Weekly blog post editor
Today, we are sharing a story written by LifeWays Early Childhood Certification Training graduate, Caitlyn Moe. This story is particularly suited for telling to children in the first grade.
The Star Children
Once upon a time, high up among the stars, there lived three star children. There were two older brothers and one young sister, each with a star upon their brow. Often the three star children would stand at the edge of their shining home and look out across the sea, all the way to the Dark Land. They saw that the people of the Dark Land were so sad and so afraid that they hardly moved at all, almost as if they were made of stone. This confused the star children, so one day they went to their mother, the Moon Queen, and asked her, “Why are the people across the sea so sad and so afraid?”
Their mother sadly sighed. “Long, long ago,” she said, “the people of the Dark Land lived here among the stars, as we do. After they went across the sea, they slowly forgot their true home. They forgot who they were. Ever since then, they have been lost in fear and sadness.”
“Those poor people!” cried the oldest star brother. “We must go and help them!”
“I will come too!” cried the second star brother.
Their sister, the youngest star child, simply watched and listened.
“This is a noble quest,” said the Moon Queen. “I will allow you to go. Now, listen carefully: Deep in the heart of the Dark Land, you will find the Singing Tree. If you can answer the tree’s question, she will grant you one wish. Ask her to help the people there remember who they are. This is the only way.”
The Moon Queen reached behind her and drew out two hooded black cloaks. “In order to travel to that place,” she said, “you must wear these hooded cloaks to hide the star upon your brow. But do not wrap the cloaks too tight, or you too may forget who you are and become lost in the Dark Land.”
The star brothers nodded, put on their black cloaks, and crossed the sea to the Dark Land. They walked for days among the people who stood as still as statues. It was cold in the Dark Land, so they pulled their cloaks tight around them to keep out the dreadful chill. At last they found the Singing Tree. As they approached, the tree sang:
Tell me quick and tell me true
Tell me, tell me: Who are you?
The star brothers opened their mouths to answer—but they did not know what to say. They had wrapped their cloaks too tight, and they had forgotten who they were. They began to feel sad and afraid, and soon they stood as still and silent as all the people in the Dark Land, their heads bowed before the Singing Tree.
When the youngest star child saw from far across the sea what had happened to her brothers, she ran to the Moon Queen and said, “Mother, I don’t want to leave you, and I wish to stay always in our beautiful home. But my brothers are lost, and I must go help them.”
The Moon Queen nodded slowly. “This is a noble quest,” she said, and gave the youngest star child a hooded black cloak. She put it on, making sure that the hood covered the star on her brow, and then she crossed the sea to the Dark Land. She walked for days among the people who stood as still as statues. And though she felt the chill of the Dark Land, she did not pull her cloak tight against it.
She found the Singing Tree and saw her brothers standing there in their cloaks, still as statues. She called to them and tugged on their arms, but they did not look up. Then the tree sang to her:
Tell me quick and tell me true,
Tell me, tell me: Who are you?
The youngest star child looked at the tree and stood up straight and tall. She remembered who she was. She threw off her black cloak and let it fall to the ground. The star blazed upon her brow, and her gown of starlight sparkled bright, breaking the gloom of the Dark Land.
“Yes,” said the Singing Tree. “That is the answer. Tell me your wish, dear child, so that I may grant it.”
“Please help all my brothers and sisters here in the Dark Land,” she said. “Help them remember who they are.”
“That is a noble wish,” said the tree. And then the tree began to sing a song so beautiful that all the people of the Dark Land lifted their heads to listen. They began to look around and move. Then they began to remember.
When the two star brothers raised their heads, they saw who was standing next to them. They recognized her face and ran to embrace her, crying, “Sister! Sister!”
The three star children hurried back the way they had come, through the awakening land, and back across the sea to their home. And there they shine to this very day.
Parents, join us in an online course created especially for you! Living Arts Through the Seasons – Spring Edition, opens on March 1st.
- NEW content each month for March, April and May
- The theme for March is Clarity. Get a fresh new focus for your parenting and your home life. March includes a BONUS Spring Equinox mini-retreat, and ideas for creating a Father’s Circle in your community!
- The theme for April is Creativity. Explore ways to feed your own creative energy, and bring creativity to your life with your children.
- The theme for May is Renewal, with a special emphasis on connecting with Mother Nature.
Click here to learn more about Living Arts Through the Seasons, a fun and interactive way to nurture your children and yourself as a parent!
NEW free e-book available on Online Waldorf Library:
Created by a Waldorf educator for the children in her care, these delightful new songs and singing games will bring joy to every home and classroom.
Dance around the Maypole — play clapping and counting games — celebrate a lost tooth — sing prayers and lullabies — all with the harmonious, healing music of the mood of the fifth. Click here to access the free e-book.
Your Favorite Books!
A recent discussion in the LifeWays Facebook group revealed many wonderful book suggestions that are favorites among our community members, and these are shared below. It can be tempting when seeing an exhaustive list like this to feel you need to stock up on every one! Children appreciate books (well, just about any material thing!) much more when they don’t have lots and lots of them. A few carefully chosen books at a time, available for revisiting again and again, are preferable to a great number of books that never get touched. Have fun choosing a book to share with your child!
For the Wee ones:
For the Grade School children:
The Wonderful Adventure of Nils Holgersson
A Day on the River (grades 2-3)
The Dragon Boy series (ages 9-10)
The Secret Pet, Secret Door and Secret Wish (early readers)
Tumtum and Nutmeg books (grades 2-4)
Any books recommended by Literature for Kids
LifeWays graduate, Holly Richardson, in the news!
Listen in as Holly Richardson, LifeWays Early Childhood Certification Training graduate from Colorado, talks on public radio about her program at the Waldorf School of the Roaring Fork, in which she nourishes mothers and their little ones. Click here to hear Holly describe her program.
Thank you to Holly, and all of our amazing students and grads, who are bringing the Living Arts to their communities!