Thursday, July 16th, 2009...1:01 pm

Peaceable Stories in Ellsworth and Presque Isle

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Born to Read ushered in the month of June with back-to-back trainings in Hancock and Aroostook counties. Linda Levesque, the facilitator in Ellsworth, started her training with a handout from the Center for Nonviolent Communication to convey the variety of words to describe emotions. (The list of words is also available online.) One participant had already talked with her 3-year-olds about other words to describe angry feelings. They learned a new word, “outraged,” which they liked and have repeated often.

After reading If Peace Is… (a book which has, sadly, gone out of print), another participant shared an anecdote about a boy who said peace was a shark. Why? Well, his teacher knew that this boy loves the ocean and its creatures. He had recently visited the New England Aquarium, and his parents said he stood for very long time just gazing at the big fish tank at sharks and other fish swimming around and around.

The Ellsworth group was also very positive about Who’s In Rabbit’s House? —a book that is rarely so well received. Linda reported that many participants were familiar with this story and already considered it one of their favorites, which provides evidence for our hunch that with this book, “practice makes perfect.”

At the training in Presque Isle, co-facilitated by Karen Campbell-Sawyer and Susan Giggey-Bergeron, participants had compelling interpretations of peace. One noted that as a concept, peace is largely culturally defined. Another said, “children need to feel valued and safe in order to be peaceful.” Discussion also yielded the observation that “sometimes it’s better for adults to stay out of [conflict], listen to the children and assess how they are doing before jumping in to solve it for them.”

Karen and Susan observed that the most challenging thing about this training for them is “getting people to think beyond the book in front of them, to how to use other books and materials to deepen the exploration of a given theme.” The example they gave is that participants who don’t have experience with the tradition of folklore cannot appreciate Who’s In Rabbit’s House as an example of the genre, but instead, take it out of context and decide they don’t like it as a story.

Still, participants appreciated the activity suggestions in the Activity & Resource Guide, and by the second session, some had already started implementing them.

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