The sharing of stories, mythology, fables and legends helps to create and maintain the unique cultures all over the world. Over time, these stories have been passed down from grandparents to parents to children, and this has always been an important way to preserve culture and heritage.
In Greece, mythology has always been part of the school curriculum. The 12 Gods of Mount Olympus have inspired generations of Greek children and is an integral part of the cultural makeup of Greece.
However, recently, there has been talk in the education sector about removing mythology from the Greek curriculum. Understandably, this has resulted in vigorous debate − removing mythology leaves room to teach more immediately relevant topics to today’s youth, such as the safe use of social media and technology. But then the obvious question is, “how do we form a sense of identity, pride, culture and heritage in our children?” How do we teach them what exactly makes ‘being Greek’ so special in today’s multicultural world?
Regardless of the changes that may happen in the Greek school curriculum, the onus on discovering Greek mythology and culture outside of the classroom rests on families more now than ever before, particularly now that Greek children are being brought up in different parts of the world. Creating a healthy curiosity and appreciation for our culture and heritage within the family transcends the sole reliance upon educational facilities to do the job for us.
So, what is the best way to spark an interest in Greek mythology at home? Well, all children are different, but mostly they love being told age-appropriate stories. Choose your favourite stories of Greek mythology to share with them − if the details of the story are too advanced for your little one or beyond their level of comprehension, don’t be afraid to offer slight variations on the details of the story. There are many children’s books available on Greek mythology for you to read to them − offering engaging age-appropriate narratives, as well as colourful illustrations. The site Kids love Greece (www.kidslovegreece.com/en/5749-greek-mythology-for-book-lovers) showcases a few popular titles.
If your family lives in the diaspora, the names of the characters in the stories may sound unusual to your children, but it’s especially important for them to hear these Greek names being spoken, to maintain a sense of cultural identity. ‘Kids Love Knossos’ is a series of bilingual audio stories specifically tailored for young children. Through 16 different audio chapters, children will learn everything about the Palace of Knossos and its history and meet with many legendary Greek mythology heroes.
I wholeheartedly encourage Greek parents and adults to share their own stories of Greece with children of today. If you have dreamt up a unique story for Greek children, why not consider writing a children’s book for kids to enjoy for many years to come. This is a daunting task, and that’s why I have translated my personal experience in children’s publishing into an online course. The easy-to-implement course, Writing for Children with Melina Mallos, includes a series of four modules delivered by short instructional videos and activity-focused worksheets.
However you do it, there’s no doubt Greek mythology is a strong, important part of our heritage. Our ancestors built temples and monuments to these great magical heroes, and children who visit Greece will enjoy knowing the story of the various gods and goddesses behind our ancient monuments. Hopefully they will then share the fascinating stories with their kids and our culture will remain very much alive in all four corners of the world.
For advice on how to engage your kids with Greek myths, stories and language, contact Melina Mallos at www.catchthatcat.com