Stories are an intangible window to the external world. On the journey of growing up, we are accompanied by many stories. We watched stories unfold on TV, immersed ourselves in books and films and sat beside family members who had much to share.
By vividly or dramatically presenting the experiences of others, children’s stories help us unconsciously build our values and inspire us, as a life mentor would.
As we grow into adulthood, the stories that impressed us the most as children stay with us. They constantly impact us on our life journey.
International Children’s Day is coming! This special day is celebrated around the world each year on June 1.
What is your favorite children’s story? What did you learn from it?
We invited some students and faculty members from PKUSZ to talk about their favorite children’s stories.
They picked their stories from children’s books, cartoons and real life. Seeing what they have to share is sure to arouse some common childhood memories and sentiments.
01 Children’s Books
Qian Yun, SUPD
“My most memorable story comes from the children’s book ‘Anne of Green Gables.’
Anne was the heroine of this book, she lost her parents at 11, and was adopted by others. Her adopter originally wanted to adopt a boy to help with work, but he adopted Anne by mistake.
Anne may not be a good girl in the standard sense: when she first arrived, people around her thought she was naughty and nasty, but then she gradually moved everyone with her sincerity, bravery, optimism and strength.
I think the family affection and friendships in this story are very moving. More importantly, the story does not give a definition of a good child but provides another perspective: an undefined and unusual model of a good girl.
At the end of this story, the author Margaret also wrote a series of stories including Anne’s going to college, getting married and having children. However, the domestic versions of the novel are limited, and most of them stay in the childhood of Anne. So far, I haven’t seen the follow-up stories of Anne and Gilbert. It is a pity I didn’t read the completed story in the domestic version.
In fact, it was not only when I was a child, but it is still the most impressive children’s book for me. It made me understand that to be brave and to be yourself is beautiful, even if it’s imperfect, it is still beautiful.”
Cole Agar, Director of Graduate and International Programs, STL
“One of our family’s favorite stories is The Rats of Nimh. We have listened to it on audio book a dozen times this past year. We love that the book is fun and clever and has adventure, but at the same time, it is nuanced and complex.
The book is written for kids, but does not talk to its audience like they are children. The book does not present the world as black and white, good and evil. The characters face challenges and adversity but not because of any “bad guy”. Amina (Mr. Agar’s daughter) says she likes it because it has rats that are clever and help each other.”
Chinwe Alli, STL
“Rumpelstiltskin is a German fairy tale about a dwarf who spins straw into gold in exchange for a girl’s first-born.
A miller, in order to get the attention of the king, lied about his daughter’s ability to spin straw into gold. His daughter was required by the king to spin a room full of straw into gold or be punished. The daughter, who did not have this ability, began to cry as she thought she would be dead soon. Then came a dwarf who could rescue her, but he only would rescue her in exchange for her first-born child.
The king later married the girl; they fell in love and bore a daughter. The queen had already forgotten her promise to the dwarf, however, he shows up later to claim her daughter.
She begged him to let her go and offered him all the riches in the world but he refused. He gave her 3 days to come up with his name or else he would claim her daughter.
Eventually, the queen was able to discover the name of the dwarf on the third day and didn’t lose her daughter. The dwarf’s name was “Rumpelstiltskin”, a very uncommon name.
The interesting story was a controversial topic between my childhood friends and me. I felt the dwarf was the villain, however, others regarded the queen as the villain and we would argue and argue about this.
I learn from it – not to obtain favor through false pretense, as there will surely be repercussions.”
Professor Young Joon Park, Assistant Dean for International Affairs, PHBS
“My favorite story is ‘Heungbu and Nolbu.’ It is perhaps the most popular folk tale in Korea.
Heungbu and Nolbu are brothers. Nolbu, the elder brother, is mean and greedy. Heungbu, the younger one, is kind and righteous. Nolbu took all the money inherited from their parents so he and his family could live a luxurious life, while Heungbu and his family suffer from hunger. Heungbu, however, did not blame his brother.
One day, Heungbu finds a swallow with a broken leg. He treats the leg of the swallow and lets it fly away. Then, the following year, the swallow comes back and gives him some seeds. Heungbu plants those seeds, and soon he harvests a few humongous gourds. Opening them, he finds many treasures inside.
Soon, Nolbu hears that his younger brother became rich. He asks Heungbu what happened and hears about the story of the swallow. Greedy Nolbu catches a swallow, cruelly breaks its leg and then treats it. After a long wait, he finally starts opening the gourds expecting the same kind of fortune. However, Nolbu finds his gourds contain trash, disease and monsters who take away all his wealth. Nolbu finally visits Heungbu as a homeless man and repents. Heungbu forgives his brother and shares his fortune with him, so the brothers (and their families) live together happily ever after.
I like the story a lot because it is fun and gives us an essential lesson of Karma. Unlike the summarized version, the original story is quite long. It includes quite a few funny details of how nasty Nolbu is and how Heungbu struggles with poverty, the excitement of opening the gourds, and how Noldbu gets severely punished. It teaches us we should get along with siblings and be friendly to animals. Also, the critical message is that our deeds are being paid off eventually.”
02 Cartoons & Films
Zhang Ruiyuan, STL
“When I was a child, my favorite story was the ‘The Ugly Duckling‘ created by Danish writer Andersen. I believe everyone is familiar with this fairy tale, which tells the story of a little swan changing from an ugly duckling to a beautiful white swan.
I remembered I would be indignant when the little swan was ridiculed by his companions. Besides, I would also praise the little ugly duckling for finding its true-self, gradually becoming confident. As a little girl in that age, I was encouraged by its gorgeous transformation.
Now, this fairy tale still inspires me to build self-confidence, discover my own beauty and explore one possibility after another. I hope we will always keep our childlike heart, show bright and innocent smiles, have confidence and courage like ‘newborn calves not afraid of tigers’, and bravely face the test of the road ahead.”
Zhang Xiong, SECE
“When I was a child, my favorite story came from a cartoon called ‘The Adventures of Qiqi & Keke.’ I watched an episode on the children’s channel every night.
This cartoon tells the story of two lovely little dinosaurs. The little Tyrannosaurus Rex is called Qiqi. When it was just a dinosaur egg, it unexpectedly arrived at the camp of the mother dragon. The little mother dragon Keke insisted on adopting Qiqi despite the opposition of the people.
She lovingly taught Qiqi to walk, forage for food, protected her from bullying and so on. Finally, she fell off a cliff in order to save Qiqi.
Keke accompanied Qiqi growing up, nurturing Qiqi to be strong. Many plot points moved me to tears.
The biggest impact this cartoon had on me is that it allowed me to learn to be strong at a very young age. I like its ending song the most: “a little lonely light in the dark, I don’t care who sees me shining, the wind blows all over the sky, clouds have different directions, no matter how bitter or painful, I still want to fly.”
Lorenzo Perazzitti, PHBS
Lorenzo watched the popular series ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ when he was ten. He liked it not because the story’s setting in a fantasy world, but because the story focuses more on the characters’ development during the journey. They bond with each other, developing a strong friendship in the journey of adventure. And that’s one of the messages of the series: always be loyal and kind to your friends.
The characters Legolas and Gimli deeply impressed him when he was young because their love/hate relationship was inspiring. They were in constant friendly competition, Lorenzo thought they developed a strong bond together until the end. Same goes for other characters (Frodo and Sam or Merry and Pippin). The story is also a journey of personal growth.
Zhang Shiyu, PHBS
“I liked Tom and Jerry dubbed in Sichuan dialect the most when I was a child.
The reason I liked watching it is because the dialect dubbing is very funny, and the story of ‘enemy couple’ Jerry and Tom is also very exciting!
The one that impressed me the most was that Jerry took a little mouse home and was bullied by Tom. Jerry, who seemed weak, ran to clean up Tom. I often marvel at Jerry’s mentality of being at peace with such a “fierce” opponent, and he can even find fun in playing with Tom, so when I encountered a problem when I was a child, I would think: Jerry’s situation is much worse than mine. He can survive it, so can I.”
03 Child story: learn from the real life
Apart from books and cartoons, the real life itself, is also a big source of story.
“When I was a child, my grandparents brought a few pots of cactuses to our house. In my eyes, cactuses are a dangerous and not beautiful plant. With thorns on their body, only green branches and leaves, they can grow recklessly only by rain. I kept away from them every time I played on the roof because I was afraid of their spikes.
One day, I discovered that there were structures on the stems of the cactus that I hadn’t seen before. My mother told me that it was a cactus flower, called the overlord flower. I was a little puzzled and disdained. First, I didn’t believe that more cactus could bloom. Second, I think that the cactus which is not good-looking doesn’t look good compared with the flowers. After more than ten days, the flower bones grew bigger and bigger, even longer than half of my arm, and I became more curious about what it looked like in bloom.
Finally one night, my mother woke me up and told me that the flower was about to bloom. I hurriedly jumped out of my bed and ran to the roof. The flowers opened slightly, revealing the thick white petals inside. After half an hour, the petals opened completely.
Under the bright moonlight, I was shocked by the huge flower. It was like a lotus in the wind, but its petals were as dense and multi-layered as a peony. At the same time, it was accompanied by a very nice floral scent, which attracted several small bees circling around it. As the sky got brighter, the flower gradually fell down, drooping, like a flash in the pan, but it was memorable.”
Li Tianshu, PHBS
“When I was a child, I liked to eat all kinds of snacks. However, this was never allowed by my parents. Every time I passed by all kinds of “temptations”, I stood in front of the shelves and lingered. I looked at them and said, ‘I just take a look.’
My mother often tells me that one winter, it was very windy and dusty, she saw a sugar gourd seller on the side of the road. She disliked that the sugar gourd outside was not clean, so she was afraid that I would eat it.
She said, “Look how dirty the sugar gourd is. We don’t eat it.”
I quickly responded, “I won’t eat it, I just want to taste it. I haven’t eaten candied haws in many years.”
Now every time I go home, my mother buys me sugar gourds every day.
I learn from my own story that it’s important to master the skill of persuading, which may have finally led me to choose Communications as my major in university.”
Thanks to the faculty and students for their sincere sharing!
We have learned many new stories from several countries. Sometimes a seemingly simple story could be the most precious treasure of our life.
As Romain Rolland once put it: “There is only one heroism in the world, to see the world as it is and to love it.”
Gradually growing into adults, we start to recognize the diversity of life and complexity of reality.
Let us always have a child living in our heart, helping us stay curious and be brave towards the world.
Thank you for reading this far, may you have a happy Children’s Day.