Experts remind us regularly of the importance of reading to our children. I hate to watch T get bored when we ride in the car, so I make a point of telling her stories. After covering “Jack and the Beanstalk” in a couple installments on various trips, I started on “Beauty and the Beast.” The version of the fairytale I like best is a mash-up of the Disney movie and Robin McKinley’s “Beauty.”
We were headed out to dinner with her grandparents in the car, but to keep T entertained, I continued my storytelling. Imagine my surprise, as I’m describing Belle’s family and her father’s business problems, and her introduction to the Beast’s palace, when my mother-in-law interrupted me to ask, very intently, “But where’s the Beast?” And once T fell asleep, I tried to end my tale, proposing to take up the next installment at a later date, but everyone in the car insisted I continue. Once I finished the story, everyone agreed that they needed to see the movie and possibly also read the book. Score 1 point for good storytelling!
The next day…on our regular day to have dinner with the family, T woke up in the middle of the meal, so I proposed that her grandfather tell her a story. When he asked me which story to tell her, I requested one of my favorite tales from Indian history, the tale of Jhansi ki Rani, (the queen of Jhansi). Now, it should come as no surprise that I find a queen who went into battle herself a good role model, even if things didn’t work out in her favor.
So my father-in-law began by telling T where Jhansi is, then proceeded, not to tell the biography of this great heroine, but to tell her how to get to Jhansi from New Delhi, where she’d stop along the way, and basically provides a travelogue rather than a story. My husband interrupted, telling his father that T could get all the same information from Google and that T wanted “a story, not a train schedule,” leaving us in stitches for the rest of the meal.