Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Book’

Shine On Rainbow Fish!

rainbow_fishFans of Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish story, I know why you like it. This story has been our water-proof bath time story since my oldest daughter was a baby. It’s a cute, simple story about sharing with beautiful drawings. Totally innocuous and sweet in many ways.

In fact, the aesthetic appeal has been significant enough for me, that in my solidly sleep-deprived state of mind the last three years, I didn’t give it a second thought. Only recently have I gotten more reflective about the content of all the children’s books on the shelf as my 3 year-old asks more and more thoughtful questions about each story that we read.  There are a few books that I just flat-out don’t dig the message and would like to stash the books away for a few years and bring back out when my girls are older and we can discuss them intellectually together.  I am not at all advocating any semblance of “book banning”.  Far from it. But because we’re dealing with HIGHLY absorbent little minds between the ages of 2 and 6 and as parents, I think it makes all kinds of sense to be selective about what you choose to read during this time.

On my “stash away for later” list includes any book that refers to a character or characters as being “bad” and scary fairy tales in which characters are punished.  I’m undecided about The Rainbow Fish.  I’m flushing my thoughts out about it here.

The most heated criticism about The Rainbow Fish comes from Americans that are phobic of possible socialist and — heaven forbid — communist messages around sharing wealth.  I read another blog article today in which the author quoted Amazon reviews of the story that were crazy ridiculous. “Communist propaganda?”  Come on!

So what if the author leans in either direction politically and this is part of his moral message?  I don’t have a problem with a message to children that says, “If you have a lot of something and the people around you have none, consider sharing.”

If I could rewrite The Rainbow Fish story about the benefit of sharing, I’d make it about a fish who had a lot of food and chose to share it with other fish who had none.  But that would just be in-your-face socialist messaging, right? I guess because I have an appreciation for the principles of both capitalism and socialism, I have no problem exposing my children to learning about either.

So here’s my REAL problem with the story.  To me it reads — quite literally — if you are shiny and beautiful, people will not want to be your friends.  You must diminish yourself in some way so that others will like you. If you’re a peacock, strip off your feathers and give them to the grackles. You’ll be much happier! Really??

Playing small so that others will feel comfortable around you is NOT the message I want to send my girls. Peacocks were given beautiful feathers. Fan them proudly I say!  Grackles were given…..hmmmm…well…they must be good for something.  Ah yes. Grackles were given a loud voice to make all other living beings remember that they’re alive.  Squawk on sisters!

The famous Marianne Williamson quote comes to mind as the antithesis of The Rainbow Fish story.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

If anyone knows of some great stories for children that include this message, please send the titles my way.  An Awesome Book is my latest find and I love it.

Live Big and Shine On friends.

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Posted in Children's Book | 2 Comments


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