When I was visiting a friend in Idaho, her sister and I were talking about books we have read as well as our interactions with children. She told me I had to read this unusual book called The Children’s Story by James Clavell. It was short, but really good, and drove home a point that I often made when talking about kid’s ministry and childcare in general. She brought it over one morning and in fifteen minutes, I had read this book and was blown away by the heavy message conveyed in such a short, simple book.
It’s hard to describe the plot without giving the entire thing away. I will share the summary from Goodreads:
It was a simple incident in the life of James Clavell—a talk with his young daughter just home from school—that inspired this chilling tale of what could happen in twenty-five quietly devastating minutes. He writes, “The Children’s Story came into being that day. It was then that I really realized how vulnerable my child’s mind was —any mind, for that matter—under controlled circumstances. Normally I write and rewrite and re-rewrite, but this story came quickly—almost by itself. Barely three words were changed. It pleases me greatly because I kept asking the questions…
Questions like, What’s the use of ‘I pledge allegiance’ without understanding? Like Why is it so easy to divert thoughts? Like What is freedom? and Why is so hard to explain?
The Children’s Story keeps asking me all sorts of questions I cannot answer. Perhaps you can—then your child will….”
The message of The Children’s Story is this: the minds of children are vulnerable. When they are in your classroom or under your care, they will trust you implicitly. Anything you say to them, they will take to heart. I have seen this countless times over my years caring for children as a babysitter, nanny, and Sunday School teacher. Even children who goof off during class are listening to every word you say. They may forget specific words you say, but they will not forget the messages you speak to their hearts. When you are in charge of children whether as a caretaker, teacher, or parent, you are an incredible influence in their lives. This is a power that must be used wisely. But we also must be aware of what is going on when we leave our children in the care of others. Are they teaching them things they should be taught? Are they being taught the right things? What are they being told about themselves, their freedoms, and their abilities?
As master Yoda says, truly wonderful the mind of a child is. Let us treat children with respect, love, and care, teaching them what is true, right, and honorable. And yes, I did just throw in a Star Wars reference. Deal with it. 😉
The Children’s Story by James Clavell gets 4/5 stars.