The interests of this period include those of the preceding period, but they are more diverse and far-reaching than in Early Childhood. They still center around the concrete, and especially physical activity. Crude and amazingly heterogeneous collections begin to make their appearance in boys’ pockets and girls’ treasure boxes. Dolls are never so dear to their fond mothers as in this period. Games and active outdoor sports appeal to both boys and girls, those games being particularly enjoyable which give the individual an opportunity to shine. Real team play is impossible at this time, since in honor each prefers himself. Any scepticism upon this point will be dispelled by listening to the modest aspirants for office when the positions in a football game are being assigned. The explanation for this lies partially in the instinct of rivalry, which arrays individual against individual, all through the early years of life. When the social feeling which welds individuals into groups becomes strong, rivalry will appear between gangs and clubs rather than between individuals.
A significant change occurs in connection with that which the child desires to imitate. At first, definite acts focused the most of his interest and aroused imitation, now, interest begins to attach itself to the actor as well, and the child not only desires to imitate the deed but also to emulate the doer. Out of this a little later comes real hero worship, an incentive to action than which life holds no greater. Another fact in connection with this is also significant; those whom he desires to resemble need not be in the home circle nor in his environment, as at first, but may be distant in time and place. This new interest in people whom he can not see lends added charm and value to Bible stories and, if told aright, they will do for his life what can be done in no other way so effectively.
Surely Agur, the son of Jakeh, saw no eager little faces upturned to his, pleading, “Tell me another,” or he would have added to the things that are never satisfied, nor say, “It is enough,” the hunger of a child for a story. Since hunger is always indicative of a need in the developing life, there must be a reason for this craving. It is found in connection with the rapid development and requirements of the imagination.
There are two ways in which a truth may be taught. One is through an abstract statement, such as, “Intemperance destroys the happiness of a home.” The other is through the concrete, or the story of a home blighted by liquor. The first appeals to reason, and can be understood only in the light of experience; the second requires simply the exercise of a vivid imagination. Of reasoning power, the child at this time has little, but he has an imagination vivid, strong and hungry, eagerly reaching out for something to feed upon. The well-told story fully satisfies his hunger, and at the same time meets the greatest need of the whole soul, namely, the placing of right ideals before it in such a way that they will be worked out into character.