Young Spirits

Young Spirits is an ongoing project whereby LIGHT donates books for children and youth to the 20 branches of the Winnipeg Public Library. The books feature spiritual content and themes intended to promote greater inter-faith and cross-cultural understanding and a more peaceful world. The donations include books by both acclaimed international children's authors such as Idries Shah and local writers, including Sheldon Oberman, Carol Matas and Joe McLellan.

The books represent part of the rich human heritage of fairy tales, fables, myths and teaching stories drawn from the many varied cultures of the world. Recent research has shown that these stories and tales can act as templates or patterns which mirror psychological processes and ways of human thought and feeling which children can easily identify and relate to. For instance, some stories have themes which show how fears can be faced and overcome with knowledge and understanding, while other books feature the acceptance of others who may be different in behaviour or appearance. The books all carry the potential seed of promoting greater self-awareness, sensitivity, compassion and cross-cultural understanding among young people.

May 2008
As part of the third annual Winnipeg International Storytelling Festival at the Millennium Library, LIGHT donated the complete series of Mulla Nasrudin books by Afghan author and Sufi teacher Idries Shah to each of the 20 branches of the Winnipeg Public Library. Mulla Nasrudin is a traditional Middle Eastern 'wise fool' or 'trickster' figure whose humorous stories and anecdotes provide a window into a different way of perceiving reality beyond conditioned patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. The donated titles were The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin and The World of Nasrudin.

May 2007
LIGHT donated three important children's books by Sufi writer and teacher Idries Shah to each of the 20 branches of the Winnipeg Public Library. The first two books, which are wonderfully illustrated, are based on traditional teaching stories which not only entertain the young reader but also stimulate a deeper understanding of the experiences of life. Fatima the Spinner and the Tent tells the story of Fatima, whose life is beset with apparent disasters as she journeys through many countries. Finally, in China, she realizes that what seemed at the time to be unfortunate events eventually led to her fulfillment and happiness. In The Man and the Fox, a man tricks a young fox into believing he will give him a chicken. The fox gets trapped but through his ingenuity and perseverance manages to escape. The third title, World Tales, is intended for older children and can be enjoyed by adults as well. It is an anthology of classic folk tales representing virtually every culture in the world. Many of the stories are found in almost identical versions throughout the world. For example, there are over 300 different versions of Cinderella; the one presented in the book is from the Algonquin Indians.

March 2006
LIGHT donated a second collection of 160 children's spiritual books to the Winnipeg Public Library. Each of the books is wonderfully illustrated by accomplished graphic artists, whose work enhances the visual impact of the stories and stimulates the imagination of the young reader. The centerpiece of the donation was six titles by acclaimed writer Idries Shah, based on teaching stories and fables from the Sufi tradition. The books were The Man with Bad Manners, The Old Woman and the Eagle, The Silly Chicken, Neem the Half Boy, The Farmer's Wife and The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal. The LIGHT donation also included two titles from the PARABOLA Story Time series, which feature stories and legends from Native American oral traditions: The Boy Who Lived with Bears and Other Iroquois Stories and How Rabbit Tricked Otter and Other Cherokee Trickster Stories.

The complete series of Idries Shah's children's books are available from Hoopoe Books.

September 2004
In its inaugural gift as part of the Young Spirits project, LIGHT donated 144 children's books to the Winnipeg Public Library. The books, which were selected by LIGHT in consultation with City of Winnipeg librarians, were chosen for their spiritual content and developmental themes. Included in the donation were a selection of books by Manitoba children's authors: Sheldon Oberman (The Shaman's Nephew, By Hannukkah Light, The Always Prayer Shawl, Island of the Minotaur), Carol Matas (The Freak) and Joe McLellan (the Nanabosho series). The donation also included titles by internationally acclaimed authors Brian Wildsmith (Saint Francis), Frances Tyrrell (The Huron Carol) and Idries Shah (The Magic Horse, The Lion Who Saw Himself in the Water and The Boy Without a Name).

Back to Projects