Children love to have friends… and to be a friend. A big part of a child’s life is friendship. Friends socialize us in our worlds in ways different from family, and children learn this early. Children talk about their best friends in ethereal terms, like friends are gifts from heaven. Poets have recognized this bond of friendship, but one of the finest and most lovely poems cannot be attributed to one poet. The poem OATH OF FRIENDSHIP is an anonymous poem from China, 1st century B.C. Your children will love this poem and the message it sends to us from so far away and so long ago…
OATH OF FRIENDSHIP Anonymous, China, 1st century B.C.
I want to be your friend
For ever and ever without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry,
When it lightens and thunders in winter,
When it rains and snows in summer,
When Heaven and Earth mingle–
Not till then will I part from you.
Read the poem with your children. Explain the word oath: a promise. Talk about how the speaker, or voice, of this poem treasures the friendship of his friend. The speaker never wants this friendship to end. How do we know this? What words/phrases does the speaker use to tell us that this friendship will last forever? Is it possible that all the hills will become flat and the rivers all dry? Probably not. Would you like someone to feel this way about you?
*Ask your children if they have special friends. Who are they? What is very special about these friends? Talk to your children about your friends… how you met and why these friends are so special to you. Talk about FRIENDSHIP and the wonderful feeling it is to be a friend. Explain that people have felt this way for as long as there have been people! If your children have pets, explain that some people also feel this way about pets, too. Friendship is an invisible thread that ties us together…
Remember that when you talk about things that fascinate children, when you read to them and with them, they are engaged in learning. They are soaking in language and concepts and life. LITERACY is all about WORDS – Written, Spoken, Felt. Experience the power of words.
*Young children may say that YOU are their best friend!