Naw Ruz marks the end of the Fast and the beginning of a new year in the Baha’i calendar. Naw-Ruz is a celebration of a “spiritual springtime” that symbolizes both individual renewal and mankind’s revitalization.
Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
The Master: Stories of Abdu’l-Baha for Children – An Audio Recording by Sarah Perceval
As 2021 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha, I’ve been thinking about resources suitable for children that will help bring their hearts closer to Him.
Sarah Perceval is a talented, engaging and lively storyteller and when I played parts of The Master: Stories of Abdu’l-Baha for Children for my own little ones, they begged to listen to more and more. This collection of stories is a treasure and I was delighted when Sarah agreed to tell me about how it came together. Here’s what she shared:
Baha’i Blog: What was the inspiration for creating this album or audio collection of stories?
The album was the brainchild of the Anis Foundation, who create moral and spiritual audio stories for children with the hope that young listeners are guided and inspired by the recordings. They were inspired to commission a narration of a wonderful book by Jacqueline Mehrabi called Stories of Abdu’l-Baha. However, as I am a storyteller, when I sent my audition tape in, I re-told those stories in my own style, using Jaqueline’s work as the skeleton. They loved it and adopted this style for the whole CD. Jaqueline was hugely supportive of the project, and generously shared her wealth of experience with me as well as her research sources, and gave me such helpful and wise advice.
Baha’i Blog: What stories are told? Or how were they selected?
The stories were selected because they are wonderful stories! Simple and powerful. The stories are most of those selected by Jacqueline for her book, for example, the delightful story of how Abdu’l-Baha gave away some of Baha’u’llah’s sheep to the shepherds, how He stood up to bullies when He was a child, and the very moving story of how He managed to buy the land for the Shrine of the Bab, and interred the Bab’s body there. Each story illustrates a detail from Abdu’l-Baha’s life and tells of His remarkable qualities. They run in chronological order from His birth to His passing.
Baha’i Blog: Who is its intended audience?
The CD was written for children, but I know many families listen together. Anyone who would like to know about Abdu’l-Baha and His life could listen to these stories. Many families write to say they listen to the stories on car journeys. I was in a car once with a family who told me they usually listen to ‘The Master’ CD when they drive, whereupon I was amazed when one of the children then recited by memory one of the stories from CD! She remembered it much better than I did! So I had the pleasure of driving with them and listening to her voice telling me the stories.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope they take away after they’ve finished listening? Or how have these audio stories been received?
I hope the stories will help to create a connection with Abdu’l-Baha. Children listen over and over to the same stories. I remember having a tape of Snoopy stories when I was a child, and I really don’t know how it didn’t break I listened to it so much. I still remember it now! Families all over the world write to tell me which their favourite stories are, or how their children have memorised them word for word. One little girl listened to the stories every day after school. Her Mum wrote to tell me that her daughter kept asking her for a little pot and some flowers from the garden. Eventually the Mum gave her a little pot and told her which flowers she could pick, and her daughter put the pot of flowers next to the CD player, as a gift for Abdu’l-Baha. This story touched me so deeply.
Baha’i Blog: What do you love most about this collection of stories?
I love the thought that the life of Abdu’l-Baha can inspire us through these stories. The stories are told simply, but they plant a seed that can continue to grow and blossom throughout our lives. I’m also really happy with the design of the CD and packaging, which I have to thank my husband for!
Baha’i Blog: What are you working on now?
I’m writing and recording a series of guided visualisations based on the beautiful images we find in Baha’i prayers and writings.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so very much, Sarah, for taking the time to share this with us! And thank you for sharing your talents with the world!
You can stream or download ‘The Master: Stories of Abdu’l-Baha for Children’ here on Bandcamp.
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.