Old Turtle

by Douglas Wood illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee (Scholastic Press New York 1992)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other-peace with the environment

highly recommended and still available in hard copy - maybe a copy in your local library


Douglas in a very dignified and sensitive manner introduced the notion of a creator and a reason for treating others including the environment with respect in his very inviting tale. Peace and harmony on earth suddenly were interrupted by an argument amongst the animals and they began debating the existence of God and whether he/she existed. But the wise old turtle quietly presented his wisdom and gently ushered in the coming of human beings to earth. He proposed their coming would be significant, their task to reflect all the possibilities of creation and to learn to see God in each other and in the beauty of the earth.

This wonderful story is one for all ages to enjoy and share together is not a tale that contains all the peace-building elements yet it magically presents the necessary underpinning wisdom we must accept and respond to in order to create peace on earth.

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  •     nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  •     challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  • peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  •     ..an element that supports the idea that peace is possible

Critical questions to explore with children 

  • What could all the beings of the world once do?
  • What happened to change this?
  • Why did Old Turtle ask them to stop?
  • What did old Turtle say?
  • What did the new beings do to the earth?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children 

  • Would Old Turtle have other important teachings to share?
  • Do you think human beings have created any problems for the earth?
  • Do you think all animals are as wise as the turtle in the story?
  • Do you think peace is possible in your lifetime?
  • What can you do to create peace in the world?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

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