The Old Boots – story about learning from your mistakes (for children 10-14 years)

He who refuses correction is his own worst enemy, but he who heeds reproof learns sense.  Proverbs 15 verse 32

The Old Boots

My name is Wang.  My family live in the north of China.  You must remember that China is a huge country.  The North is very cold in winter.  We have to wear plenty of clothes to prevent frostbite.  When we go out we must put on several layers of clothing and we always wear headgear to cover our ears and necks as well as the top of our heads.  We also wear gloves and big fur lined boots.  These clothes, especially the boots are expensive and they get handed down to other children as we grow out of them.  Kid’s feet grow so quickly they soon grow out of their boots.  We do have a clever way of using socks so that boots can stay with their owner for longer.  When we first get our boots we may wear three pairs of socks so that they fit.  Then we go down to two, then one pair.  Then sadly, we pass them on, or gladly, if we already have another pair of good boots waiting for us.  If we are lucky one pair of boots will last one child a whole winter, before they get passed on to the next wearer.

I remember one year when I was eleven years old I got a pair of boots from my neighbour who was twelve.  I was used to getting his boots and clothes when he grew out of them.  I looked at them.  They were much worn.  He must have had them from someone else first.  Usually his things were all right; they were not too worn out, but these boots were quite tattered.  I was cross.  I would be expected to wear these  old boots for the whole winter.  My mother told me that I must wear them carefully and look after them because she did not know where the next pair of boots would come from if I wore those ones out.  She certainly could not afford to buy me a new pair.  I hated those boots.  I decided I would wear them out as quickly as I could, then she would have to get me a better pair.

We used to walk to our village school every day.  There would be ice on the road and every child knew you should not slide on the ice as it would wear out your boots.  So I slid on the ice.  I slid and slid.  I showed off to the others.  Some of them tried too.  The older ones told us not to slide as our boots would wear out and we would get frostbite.  I knew an old neighbour who had frostbitten hands.  He had lost two fingers.  The other children stopped sliding but I carried on.

Wang wanted to wear out his boots on the ice

Wang wanted to wear out his boots on the ice

Finally I managed to wear a hole in my boots.  I felt triumphant.  Now my mother would have to get me another pair of boots.

I showed the hole in my boot to her.  She just looked at me.

“Well what do you want me to do about it?” she asked after a long wait.

“I want a better pair of boots,” I said, “I told you these ones were no good.”

“Do you think I don’t know what you have been doing to your boots?  Do you think your friends say nothing to their mothers, and their mothers say nothing to me?”

I looked down. “Why didn’t you tell me to stop sliding then?”

“I get tired of telling you to stop doing things when you know very well what will happen if you don’t.  You must take responsibility for your own actions when you know that something will go wrong if you don’t!”

My mother made me mend my boots with stinking fish glue and some old leather from a pair of worn-out boots.  The mend hurt my foot and gave me blisters.

After two weeks of watching me limp my mother took my boots and re-mended them herself, so that they didn’t hurt me any more.  I was always careful to look after my boots and clothes after that.  I made sure I handed them on in good condition to the next person.  I did learn from my mistakes.  My mother said it’s all right to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.

The Proverb is ‘He who refuses correction is his own worst enemy’…

  • In what way did Wang refuse correction?
  • What does it mean ‘to be your own worst enemy’?
  • Can you think of something you have done after you were told not to do it, and it caused you a problem?
  • Can you think of a time when you learned from your mistake?


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Story About Non Violence from a Roman Soldier (for children 10-14 years)

Proverbs 3  Verse 31,

31 : Do not envy or copy a violent man or choose any of his ways

32: for the Lord detests a perverse man, but takes the upright into his confidence (New International Version of Old Testament)

Story from a Roman soldier

My name is Lucius.  I am a Roman soldier.  I came to Britain many years ago, two hundred years after the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was my job to provision the battalion.  I had to make sure that there would be enough to eat for every man, woman and child in our care, for indeed many of our men had wives and children with them.  We would deal with the local people.  We would barter for goods or pay for them with our own money if they would accept it.

We kept animals to feed ourselves.  We grew winter crops which we saved to feed our stock.  We introduced many new crops to Britannia.  Our goats and sheep would graze the pastures.  We wanted to live peaceably with the local populations if possible.  It was too exhausting to be at war.  We wanted to gain territory rather by doing business with the people than by subduing them with weapons.  We wanted them to feel they could welcome us into their towns and cities.  We could show them many ways of building roads and houses that were new to them.  This would make it more likely that they would want to become like us as they could see the advantages of our ways.

I remember on one occasion a young man from a village near our fort came to see me.  He said he wanted to join the battalion.  He was tired of life on the land and wanted to weald a sword instead of a ploughshare.  I asked him what he thought he would be doing with his sword.

“I will be killing people, of course,” said he.

“And why would you want to do that?” I enquired, surprised at his reply.

“That is what all Roman soldiers do,” said he.  “That is why Rome has come and taken our land, our towns and our villages.  That is why you can eat whenever you want to eat.  It is why you can wear fine clothes and live in grand fortresses.”

“Young man,” said I, “It is not by violence that we conquer this land; it is by power.  We are more powerful than you people.  There are many of us and we are well organised and well disciplined.  It is true that our swords are sharp and our lances long and lethal, but the truth is we rarely use them.  We do not wish to waste human blood.  Every man is of value.  Every person, Roman or Briton is precious to us.  Do not think that if you join our army you will be killing people every day.  Indeed it is to be hoped that you would never need to kill anyone.  It is the threat of violence that controls people, rather than violence itself.  An army needs strong discipline so that unnecessary killing is strictly avoided.

An undisciplined man who kills another without a thought for the value of life will find that others may take revenge upon him.  He himself will have a short life, and the life that he has will be constantly under threat.  Fear will rule his life.  In choosing a way of violence he is choosing a path of fear.


  1. Why do you think the young man envied the Roman soldiers?

  1. How did he think they were able to control the local population?

  1. How did Lucius explain the truth?

  1. What is the danger of being a violent person?

  1. Does the story remind you of anything in your life, or in the lives of people you know about?

  1. What do you think verse 32 means?  In another translation of the Bible (New English) it says ‘For one who is not straight is detestable to the Lord, but upright men are in God’s confidence.’  There are lots of issues to consider here too!

A story about the importance of keeping your good name. (for children 10 -14 yrs)

Proverbs 22:1  A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

A story about the importance of keeping your good name.

I have two sisters. One is ten, the other is eleven.  I was born five years before they came along.  My friends don’t pay much attention to my sisters.  They call them ‘the kids’, but I have had to look after them quite a lot when they were young and I want to make sure they are OK when they become teenagers.  Things can go wrong when you leave primary school and start your secondary education in a huge school with one or even two thousand pupils.

My younger sister Megan is the one I worry about the most.  She is always trying to look older and be older than she really is.  Tash, the other one is content to be her age.

Megan likes to hang around with the lads up at the park.  Some of them are OK – most of them are really, but one or two I wouldn’t trust for a minute.  They are always boasting about what they have done or what they are going to do, and it’s all lies.  Megan comes home and tells us all about it.  My mum gets cross and tells me I should be looking out for my sister.  Well, I can’t be there all the time, can I?  The park is just next door and Mum doesn’t really want to stop Megan from going out.  She tries to get Tash to keep Megan company, and Tash does go out too, but not so much.  She likes reading and doing her Karaoke at home.  She says she doesn’t like the park gang and she thinks they are stupid.

Will they give her a bad name?

“I don’t want everyone to think I’m like one of them, ’cos I’m not.  I don’t go bragging about stupid things and smoking and drinking fizz and saying it’s alcohol.”

“They aren’t all like that,” said Megan, “Only Nico, you know, Nicotine Nigel, he’s the only one.”

“Well maybe so, but the others just hang around and gossip about each other.  I don’t want to do that.  Before you know it they’ll be gossiping about you.” said Tash.

“No they won’t.  Why should they?  I haven’t done anything.”

“ Maybe not, but people who gossip often make up stories about others if they have nothing better to do.”

“Well no one would believe them.  They can’t just lie about someone, Well , except for Nico, he’d lie about anyone.” said Megan.

“What about your friend Simon?  I hear he stole some sweets from the supermarket!”

Megan went white, then red.  She didn’t know what to say.  She liked Simon and she trusted him.  Now here was Tash telling her that Simon was a thief, and she believed her sister.

“Don’t worry, Meg, I just made that up to see what you would think.  You believed me didn’t you?”

“Well, you don’t tell lies, that’s why I believed you.  You shouldn’t say that about Simon, it’s not true.”

“That’s right, said Tash,” I’m just showing you what some people are like when they gossip.  They make up stories about people that others might believe, then Simon, or someone like him gets a bad name.”

“Oh, that’s not fair is it?  I wouldn’t do that!”

“Well just be careful who you hang about with or you might get a bad name too, and you wouldn’t want that would you?


What does ‘having a good name’ mean to you?

What does ‘having a bad name’ mean to you?

What might happen if someone had a bad name?

How can you  keep your good name?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?