When my husband travels, my children and I have an evening ritual called “cozy nights.” We cheerfully tidy up the whole house, eat a half-hearted dinner like cheese and crackers, then settle down with blankets on the couch with hot chocolate or watermelon for a movie. It makes the day shorter for me and gives us all something to look forward to.
Recently, we watched Children Of Heaven, which I strongly recommend for families with young children to watch. It was profoundly beautiful, rich with life lessons, empathy for others, and examples for children to look up to. The movie tells the story of an Iranian boy who accidentally loses his little sister’s only shoes and how they attempt to make do with one pair shared between them. It conveyed in a way that the smallest child can understand the trials of poverty, having to find work, and not having “things”. Because of the subtitles, I was able to give my young ones a running commentary, pointing out observations about the choices and behaviors of the characters. The only fault of the movie is that it ends very abruptly, without the closure that a child needs in a sad story.
Yet the abrupt ending launched us into conversations that lasted for days. Zahra and Ali became household names. We talked about what we could do if Ali was sitting in front of our house, all of the things we could do to help him. My four-year-old ran into her room in a frenzy, pulling out her toys, shouting with excitement and showing me all of the things we could give Zahra. She even suggested giving away her own earrings. We put together a small care package for a needy child, with a sparkly purse, a toothbrush and travel toothpaste, a doll, scarf, crayons, and of course a pair of shoes.
Here are some talking points for the film. There are many more!
- Working together to find a solution
- Making mistakes
- Everyone doing their part in the family
- Examples of good character displayed in the film
- People who are poor are very worried and sad. It is very difficult for them.
- Being kind to others even when we are in trouble or want something
- Being thankful and content with what we have
- Why is the film called Children of Heaven?
- The soldiers of Allah in nature and creation (the closing scene with the fish)
When my children asked why Allah swt didn’t help Ali, we talked about how poverty and suffering is a purification for some and a test for others to see whether they will help out. Poverty exists because there are many of us who are greedy and wasteful, refusing to share and help others and live with guidance. That is why we need to listen and read the Quran, live by it, and remind others, so we can do our part to solve these problems.
I hope to watch Children Of Heaven again, very soon, with the whole family, and plan a service activity the next day so our kids practice channelling their emotion and energy into action.
Maha is a homeschooling mother of four children (6, 4, 2, and 10 mos.) and lives in Texas. She is an active MAS worker and loves being in nature and working for Islam. She blogs occasionally at Even Sparrows Pray.