Learning for children: Of books and cinematic life lessons

Screening provided another medium to emphasise the importance of reading.


Our Correspondent April 24, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Life lessons were imparted during the screening of the BBC film adaptation of the Julia Donaldson children’s book “The Gruffalo”. The screening, that was organised by Little Arts, took place at the Pak-China Friendship Centre on Tuesday, during the second day of the National Book Day celebrations.


The message behind the film, screened on Tuesday, is relevant for children of different nationalities as “it deals with the universal themes of bravery, friendship and the power of wit over physical strength,” said Little Arts Production Designer Zeeshan.

The narrative follows a mouse (voiced by James Corden), who is an easy prey for other forest animals such as owls, foxes, snakes, etc. However, he uses his wit and imagination to make up the imaginary character of a “Gruffalo”, a large and frightening forest animal with an appetite for the other animals. The mouse says the Gruffallo is his friend and he is scheduled to have dinner with him. Scared by the Gruffalo the other animals let the mouse be.

The plot twist is that the Gruffalo actually exists and comes into contact with him. Noorya, 11, while speaking to The Express Tribune, pointed out that the mouse’s lie becoming a fact is evidence for why lying is bad. Other children like Neela, eight, felt that the Gruffalo and mouse are actually friends. “They don’t want to eat each other anymore because they’re friends,” she added innocently.

After the film, boys and girls took part in a gender-oriented debate. Boys accused girls of being weak and talking too much while the girls said boys are dirty. Young Samira, nine, told The Express Tribune that “boys are smarter than girls, which is why my father goes to office while my mother stays at home”.

Misguided statements like these from children offered an insightful look at why reading is so important. Children are emulating what they see but reading can help in understanding the reasons behind inequalities present around them.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.

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