What a sneaky Buddhist dad I am. I wrote earlier about figuring out how to raise our son with a set of values so that he will be less vulnerable to fundamentalism, dogmatism, etc. when he gets older. Well, when Parker was much younger, I looked up several children’s books on Buddhism or with a Buddhist flavor. A while back I got one of them, I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told, via BookMooch. It’s a collection of Jataka Tales adapted for children. (By the way, check out this great site with animated jataka tales. I’d show it to Parker, but I’m afraid I’d never use my computer again!)
I put the book on the shelf and left it there at first, because the writing was a little advanced for Parker then. But a couple of weeks ago, when we were getting tired of reading the same books we always read to Parker, I pulled I Once Was a Monkey off the shelf. But I didn’t offer to read it to him, because that would have given him a chance to refuse. I just started reading it silently and waited for his natural curiosity to kick in.
It did. For the first week, I read one story each night. Then he started asking me to read from it when I put him to bed. Now it’s one of his favorite books. And he gets the stories. He stops me and asks questions, and we talk about what’s happening in the story and why. By George, it worked. I don’t want to push my luck, but I think next time I have a chance I’m going to thumb through a copy of Zen Shorts, and if it passes muster, I’ll bring it home too.