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I want to teach my kids the value of stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture. A story or fable would be great, although I'm pretty sure Aesop didn't write one about this subject.

The metaphor about not being able to see the wood for the trees doesn't really cut it.

Can anybody think of a good story that fits the bill? It doesn't have to be packaged as cautionary tale with a moral at the end - any good fairy tale or modern fiction even would do just as well - as long as I can read it in one session.

They're 5 and 8 years old. I expect the 8-year-old to pick up the idea immediately, but I think a good story for the 5-year-old will be key, especially for referring back to (e.g. remember what the prince did which stopped him falling into the witch's trap?)

I guess it's basically about teaching them to find a micro-second to consider a thought before going with the flow or being swept along or charging into something.

  • It sounds to me like you should write one. In fact, tell them you're writing this type of story about an 8-year-old, come up with an interesting situation (e.g., all the older kids chasing the treasure climb a tree and try to go out on the same branch) and ask them if they can think what could go wrong, and what your hero could do instead. Then write how she saves the day by taking a step back and realizing everyone else is being too hasty. – Ossum's Mom Jan 26 '18 at 18:27
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There is the parable of the blind(folded) men and the elephant. This was originally a South Asian tale, but is fairly well-known now in many cultures. The individuals encounter an elephant under circumstances where they can't see it clearly, and try to identify it by feel. One feels its tail and says it's a rope; one feels its leg and says it's a tree; one feels its ear and says it's a fan; one feels its side and says it's a wall; and one feels its trunk and says it's a snake.

There are quite a few picture book versions of the story, but if you wanted to tell it yourself you could modify it to fit your purposes. For example, you might make it six (or two) children in the dark instead of six blind men. You could also pick the ending you like best—do the children cooperate to figure out what's really going on? Does the elephant do something to make its presence known? Maybe the lights come on so they can finally see what they've got? You could even have your children help figure out the ending.

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