Story-telling is a quick way to teach children good values
By: Salwa Samir
Malika is a four-year-old girl who wears glasses. She is annoyed that none of her friends wears such a frustrating thing on their tiny face.
One day, her mother told her a bedtime story that was especially written for her entitled “Malika and the Eyeglasses”.
The story tells her that the spectacles are her friend because they help her to see the world more clearly. When she sleeps, the glasses long for her to wake up and wear them again. The story makes Malika realise that her glasses are a true friend and this makes her happy and she begins treating them with care.
The story was written by Mai Abdel-Hadi, who has launched an initiative called (Hadouta Bi Esmo) “Story in his Name”.
“Children hate being given direct instructions and advice. We need to offer them this advice in an imaginative way. So, my bedtime stories correct a child’s behaviour, by telling him/her a tale using their name and dealing with the issues of which his/her parents complain,” Abdel-Hadi told the Egyptian Mail.
“The stories are an indirect and attractive way to teach them good values,” she added.
Abdel-Hadi graduated from Faculty of Mass Communication, the Radio and Television Section, Cairo University. She was fond of everything to do with children.
She is the mother of two boys aged seven and four. All her stories are told in rhyming verse, in colloquial Egyptian Arabic and most of them have sound effects.
Abdel-Hadi has formed groups on WhatsApp through which her recorded stories are available for other mothers to use for their kids.
“When I compose a story, I focus on real situations and add a touch of imagination to attract the children,” she said.
She added that any woman can download the stories on her mobile phone and play them to her child at bedtime.
Abdel-Hadi said that the idea of composing stories for children came to her when she met a mother who was sad at the change that came over her son Ali, after he fell from the third floor and injured his leg. He became upset and depressed.
"I composed a story for him about a Prince called Ali who fell from his horse and injured his leg. The story tells how he accepted his fate, regained his confidence and waited for his leg to heal, over time. After hearing the story, Ali’s psychological condition improved,” she said.
Abdel-Hadi’s stories have spread quickly and mothers keep calling her and asking her to record more stories for their children. She has complied and has even increased her audience by translating the stories into English and French.
Abdel-Hadi now has more than 20 groups on WhatsApp with 7,000 members of different nationalities.
“I now have followers from Sweden, Latin America and the UK,” she said, proudly.
She has also collected the stories into one book entitled “Once Upon a Time”. The first and second printed editions sold like hot cakes during the Cairo International Book Fair last January.
Two years ago, Abdel-Hadi wrote a book called “How Can I Answer this” (Arod Aqol Eih?). It is based on a dialogue between her and her son, Youssef. She tries to answer his questions which are like those asked by every child his age, about the unseen and sex.
“A child behaviour specialist helped me answer the questions in a simple, convincing way,” the 35-year-old mother said.
“It is a guidebook mothers can use to deal with these predictable situations,” she added with a smile.