The Eagle and the Wren

by Jane Goodall and Alexander Reichstein

 (North-South Books Zurich Switzerland 2000)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other

recommended but unavailable - maybe a copy in your local library


Dr Jane Goodall related her favourite childhood story about the eagle and the wren. It was a story that mirrored her life and needed to be shared. Jane honoured the support she had been given by many people so that she, too, could soar to great heights. In the story, all the birds quarrelled over who could fly the highest. Each endeavoured to fly higher than his predecessor. Eventually the strength of the eagle allowed him to fly to higher than all the other birds. Yet snuggled under his feathers was a small wren who was unconcerned about the competition. She had been able to reach the great heights because of his strength. She had fulfilled her dream.  This empowering story is for all ages to enjoy and share together contains many peace-building elements:

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  •    challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  •     peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  • element that supports the idea that peace is possible

The story reminds us that we truly are all in this together. We need each others' strengths in order for us all to fly and to reach the heights our spirits yearn to reach. To create sustainable peace upon earth we will all need to fly together.

Critical questions to explore with children 

  • Why were the birds quarrelling?
  • Which birds were able to fly high?
  • What did the wise old owl suggest the birds do?
  • What comment did the ostrich make about the competition and why did he make it?
  • Which bird had the strength to eventually fly the highest?
  • Was the wren the winner of the competition?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

  • Why would the birds be arguing about which one of them could fly the highest?
  • Do all birds fly? Are these birds disadvantaged for not being about to fly?
  • Which bird do you think has the most strength? Why do you believe this?
  • How else could the birds have solved their problem? Was it an important problem to resolve?
  • Do you think the wren was a clever bird?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?
  • What important work does Dr Jane Goodall do? Why would she want to share this story?


Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation January 2007

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