Elephant in the Dark written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (2015)
Based on a poem by Rumi, this story is familiar to picture book lovers. In this version, a merchant brings home a new and strange creature. He puts it into the barn for the night. The villagers are curious and want to know what the merchant has in his barn, so they sneak in during the night to find out for themselves. Each villager who goes into the barn only feels one part of the creature and since it is too dark to see, they do not realize that what they touch is not the whole creature. The villagers spend the whole night arguing with each other about what the merchant has brought home… a creature like a snake, a fan, a paintbrush, a plow. The next morning the merchant takes the creature out of the barn and to the river. But the villagers are so busy arguing still that no one notices that they each knew only a small piece of the truth. Only the children see the creature as the elephant it is and follow it to the river.
Knowing only a small piece of the truth is like not knowing the truth at all. This is a wonderful story to begin a discussion about learning as much as possible before forming an opinion. This is true when trying new foods to eat, a new game to play, or making new friends.
Encourage your little ones to use all their knowledge to make informed decisions.
Some fun activities similar to the experience of the villagers include hiding an object in a bag and having children identify it by touch alone. Or smell a cotton ball to identify the flavor that was added. Or matching sound boxes by listening to the differences between them. Using all their senses, will help children learn to explore their world.