"Don't go out that door. There's vomit!"
Those were the words directed at us as my family and I were leaving the mall recently.
We laughed and thanked the stranger for the warning, then took the other door. Looking to the left, I saw that, sure enough, there was a fairly fresh splattering of vomit on the sidewalk that one of us would have surely stepped in had it not been for the considerate warning of a complete stranger.
It made me smile to think that someone I didn't know would care about whether or not I stepped in a puddle of puke. And then I thought, What if people did that all the time? Not the puking, but the considering.
Imagine what a friendlier world it would be. Imagine the smiles shared, the doors held open, the traffic frustrations minimized, if only we would look beyond ourselves and really see our fellow human beings. If we stopped to think about how our actions or inactions affect those around us. If we cared enough to keep a complete stranger from ruining their shoes. Or forgetting their wallet. Or dropping a five dollar bill.
If we, though hopelessly flawed ourselves, could just be decent to each other. Consistently.
Can you imagine?
Books can help with that. I don't mean books that were written with the obvious agenda of pounding a moral lesson into our brains, but stories, true or imagined, about characters who work through their own flaws while struggling to overcome whatever problems come their way. It doesn't matter if that story is about a mouse who worries too much or a Hobbit carrying the one ring to Mordor. These stories explore what it means to be human, and they help us--and our children--to look at the world beyond our own little bubbles.
So read lots of stories to your children. But don't just stop there. Talk about the stories and the characters. Answer your children's questions, and ask your own. There are so many things for you to explore and discover in the books you share.
What books have helped you (and/or your children) see people a little differently?