I was invited to a lovely Muslim weekend school on Sunday.

But I went with a lot of trepidation.

The organizers asked me to do a presentation that’s designed for grades three to twelve, for very little kids, including kindergarteners. The presentation was The Roses in My Carpets.

That’s tough!

Because it includes the concepts of refugees, and bombs and war.

For kindergarteners???

It’s kind of too much. And when I said as much to the organizers they still asked me to do it anyway, so I thought of how to fulfill their request.

The way I’ve designed my presentations, they’re definitely geared for certain age groups. Sometimes it’s because they contain issues that are too provocative for younger ages, but mostly it’s because the little kids won’t necessary get the depth of what I’m really talking about.

So how do you change a presentation like The Roses in My Carpets so that it will appeal to the younger ones?

I find it comes down to third person.

Third person point of view is hard for me. I seem to naturally write in first person. “I did this… I did that”

But little kids find it easier to understand if you said the boy did this or the girl did that, because then they can see the separation between you, as the narrator, and the characters in the story.

So I took the same powerpoint that I had developed, with its visuals from the book, and I began by telling the story of The Roses in My Carpets in third person.

I began as usual, by talking about what a refugee is. I did a bit of introduction, then I started telling the story along with the powerpoint slides of book’s pictures.

“Every night this boy, see? He has this same dream that jets are chasing him and his mother and his little sister.

Then he wakes up, and he realizes that he’s safe. In the mud house. In the refugee camp. He can hear his mother and sister breathing nearby…”

It worked a little too well!

You see the problem is I’ve become immune to the emotional impact of the story when I tell it in the normal way.

That tends to happen when you’ve done a presentation enough times.

When I first started, I couldn’t even read the book without crying, and I definitely couldn’t tell the story out loud!

But after sixteen years of presenting it, probably about five thousand times, yeah, I don’t cry.

But now, changing it to third person, the poignancy was threatening to overwhelm me again.

It was kind of embarrassing.

A number of times, I found myself choking up, fighting back the tears, all because I was coming at the story from third person.

But, alhamdu lillah, I got through it.

I told the story, and once I got to the slides of the refugee camp I visited in Peshawar, I was on safe ground.

The kids loved to see the way these Afghans had lived in mud houses.

And even though there were many little kindergarteners, they remained engaged.

There was only one little girl who started rolling around on the floor dangerously close to the projector cables so I had to tell her to move back.

Other than that, they were a wonderful audience, masha Allah.

Ended up selling tons of books! I’d taken extra, but I still ran out!

Alhamdu lillah, it was a lot of fun.