Shaping Our Children’s Values Through Literature

Shaping Our Childrens Values Through Literature kids booksAs a lover of books, I love to share a good read with friends.  There are always a few books on my bedstand waiting to be read. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, there are childrens books around now, waiting for my granddaughters to discover and share my love of reading.

I tend to buy books based on the illustrations and the feel of a book. At the toddler level one doesn’t encounter books with aggression or violence so I don’t have to put a discerning eye on the content. Yet.  I can, however, look for books to help convey certain messages or values I feel are important. Admittedly I hadn’t really thought of that until reading a recent post on Imagination Soup. The author talks about books from her childhood as well as contemporary books which shaped her beliefs.

She cites the Little Princess by Frances Hodgsen Burnett; I’d add Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and The Secret Garden, also by Burnett as two powerful books for ages 9 and up. The messages are abundant in these books- kindness, helping others, making the best of difficult situations, traits we could all use.

What about our younger children? Do you have books that reflect certain values you want to share with your children?  Do you ever choose stories with a moral? And, what messages would you want your children to learn?  Personally I’d choose books that reflected these qualities:

  • Strong girls engaged in active play and reflected in non-gender specific ways. For example; if the book is about going to the doctor and there was a choice I’d pick the book with a female doctor.  Angelina Ballerina by Katherine Hollabird is wonderful, my boys actually liked this book.  Angelina does want to be a very feminine, traditional ballerina, but she is very strong, determined and self-sufficient.
  • Story lines showing 2 parents,  with the father in an active caregiving role. I’d love to share a story where the dad helped with dishes, or did storytime, maybe grocery shopping.  Karen Katz has a couple of books about dads, check out Dad and Me
  • Compassion, caring. Kids being nice to each other, sharing and cooperating. Eileen Spinelli has a number of colorfully illustrated, award winning books; Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch is all about caring and giving.
  • Stories showing more than one race, or books with pictures showing the multicultural world our children live in. Peter Spier’s People would be fun. His books are mostly pictures, realistic in a watercolor type illustration, without words and wonderfully full of things to look at and talk about.
  • Books reflecting a wider array of religions. There are many great books in this category, you’d need to pick the topic that suited your interests.

What kinds of messages do you want to impart to your children? If you’ve got some book favorites, we’d love for you to share them.

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  1. The Benefits of Reading to Children
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