In the traditional stories told by the Native American Lakota people, the stories have always been moral lessons to teach the seven Lakota virtues to their children. The Lakota cultural values include courage, humility, compassion, generosity, honesty, truth, and respect. The Lakota stories center around these values. How does that relate to our society today? The same can be true of many other cultures using stories to teach their children, and all of the best children’s books teach a moral lesson with the intention of their children learning how to be more virtuous. Some people don’t see the value in fictional children’s books. Still, even our third president Thomas Jefferson expounded upon and praised fiction as teaching invaluable moral lessons to people in a fun way. The same could be said of the best children’s books.
Taking a Virtue and Embodying It
In the Native American tribe, the Lakota’s culture, traditional stories get told to children with the intentions of them learning this virtue and embodying it. Lakota people have much respect for the elderly, and when you look to them, you look to them for wisdom and for some of the virtues that they embody. Every one of the Lakota elders will usually have one of the virtues taught in the stories. The same can be said of children’s books. You can teach your child the moral lessons behind the book. In some cases, you might even have more than a single lesson being taught, but you might choose to focus on one at time. The great thing about these stories is that you will read them again and again.
You could make it into a fun game by asking your child how they might practice this virtue. What can they do to practice the morals of the best children’s books?
Why We Connect with Stories
You may be wondering what is it that makes stories a powerful creative medium for teaching lessons to children? Part of it comes from the fact that our brain can relate to it. We find good stories fascinating, and when we connect with the stories, we have a higher chance of taking the lessons taught to heart. That especially becomes true with children who learn best when having fun. If they’re enjoying themselves, the amount that they learn will increase exponentially. Children’s books with moral lessons can leave a lasting impact on your child, and the lesson could even follow them throughout their lifetime. For example, one child who has read a moral story about a dog always keeping his promises can lead to a child always keeping their promises later in life because it was one of their favorite stories as a child that they still remember to this day. At the time, they may not even understand that their favorite book from their childhood was the reason for the keeping of their promises as an adult.
The Value of Teaching Your Child Moral Lessons
Learning how to be a good human being is one of the most important things that you can teach your child. To be clear, no one in life is perfect. However, learning how to be an asset to humanity to make others happy is one of the most important things that you can do. As adults, we all know how hard life can get at times. You have bills, personal problems, and many other things that can make life hard. When you can be there for someone in their worst moments, few things will have a greater value.
Teaching Your Child How to Be Successful
There’s more to life than simply being smart. Children’s books with moral lessons will teach your child some of the values that will guide them throughout his or her life. Having good morals matters even more than being smart. As Confucius once said, “The superior thinks always of virtues; the common man thinks of comfort.” You can bring your child up to be virtuous by showing him the best children’s books with moral lessons. In the end, this will not only make him a person who values other people, but it will also keep him from getting into trouble in the future.
Age Range Doesn’t Matter
In the past, publishers would set up books based on an age range, and a lot of people found this funny because of how children’s books with moral lessons can be just as valuable at age three as what they can be at age six. In fact, some kid’s storybooks work well for teaching even adults moral lessons that they may not have thought about in a while. Mr. Tater Tot At The Chase: A Happy Helper, for example, teaches the lesson to always follow through on promises and Mr. Tater Tot At The Chase: Too Much, which teaches the lesson of moderation.
Nurturing the Ideas of Your Child
From a young age, your child has a wild imagination. In fact, Steve Hargadon, Founder of the Learning Revolution Project, said, “All children are born geniuses, and we spend the first six years of their life degeniusing them.” Instead of doing that, we can nurture their genius by giving them interesting ideas and helping them to nurture their imagination in exciting ways. The great thing about kid’s storybooks is that the best of them will not only teach moral lessons; they will display some of the most interesting creativity that you will ever see. The Mr. Tater Tot series, by Lara Holman Byrne, is about her beloved pet English Bulldog, who is the star of the Children’s book, who is the one learning the lesson. However, there are many examples of children’s books that use creativity. As you’re reading it to your child, you might even think about some of the moral lessons and creativity used in the book. Experts recommend that you nurture your child’s mind with many of the best children’s books to expose them to a wide variety of different moral lessons. Usually, children’s books will have moral lessons behind them.
The Best Books Show, Don’t Tell
In the best children’s books, they show you the moral lesson through the unfolding of the story. They don’t even always necessarily tell you the lesson of the story. Instead, they show you why this lesson matters in life. Like with adult writing, expert writers recommend “Show, don’t tell.” It’s the same way with children’s books that the best children’s books with moral lessons will show why this moral lesson matters. Rather than coming right out to say it, it will be demonstrated in the book. For example, if the book were trying to teach the child about being kind and empathetic, it might show the harm that happens to the others when kindness and empathy aren’t present.
The Ways of Learning Wisdom
Confucius said that men learn wisdom in three different ways. First, they learn through contemplation, which is the highest form of learning. Second, they learn through imitation. Finally, they learn through experience, which is sometimes the most painful way to learn. Children’s books with moral lessons, to be the most effective, should be pondered after you have read the story to your child. As Confucius said, this is the highest form of learning wisdom.
Rather than your child having to learn a painful lesson through experience, you can teach your child how to learn the lesson through reflecting on kid’s storybooks so that they don’t have to go through a painful lesson later. For example, one of the painful lessons that they might have to otherwise learn about is accountability through not doing their schoolwork. Their grades will immediately suffer. Instead, if you teach your child about accountability through a lesson in kid’s storybooks early on, they will know that they have to do their schoolwork to succeed.
Stories Speak to Our Souls
The best children’s books speak to our souls on a deeper level. They change us in ways that we don’t even see. In fact, one of the tips when it comes to teaching through writing has been to use stories because of how it engages the audience. At the same time, it teaches them invaluable lessons that speak to them on a deeper level. The same could be said of kid’s storybooks. Instead of teaching your child lessons by talking about virtues, you can use children’s books with moral lessons to give a direct example of why this virtue matters. At the same time, it will be fun for your child, and these will be the precious memories that they remember later. They will think of you reading to them when they were a child. In fact, many studies show that adults who were read to as children have a higher likelihood of being readers later on.
The Benefits of These Books
There are a few key benefits that come from these books that we believe should be outlined. Some of the benefits that you will get from this include
- Bonding with your child
- Precious memories
- Teaching moral lessons
- Giving them a love for reading and stories
- Nurturing your child’s imagination
Taking It One Step Further
As we said earlier, in the Native American Lakota tradition, stories were told for entertainment. Still, they were also taught so that children learned some of the values taught in Lakota culture. These stories were read to the children so that they could learn to embody the lessons of these stories. The same can be done with the best children’s books. You can use the book to initially teach the child a lesson on a specific virtue.
After you have read the book to them, you might take it one step farther. For example, ask your child what they can do to embody the lessons taught within this book. As great as a book can be, you want them to put what they learn into practice. After you have asked them that question, you might set up a graph on the most important morals that you want to teach your child. In this way, you can see how they are progressing with that particular virtue. While it might sound funny, Benjamin Franklin used this method throughout his lifetime to teach himself some of the moral values that he wanted to learn. For example, if he wanted to learn humility, he might keep an eye on this theme throughout his day to see where he didn’t succeed with it. You can do the same with your child with your careful guidance. In this way, you put the lessons taught into action for more significant benefits in society.
What Makes a Good Children’s Story?
The best children’s books will usually have these things within them to make it popular with children:
- Fun and entertaining story
- Imaginative and creative art
- Powerful moral lessons that we can all learn from
More Receptive through Having Fun
You have probably been in a situation where you were having a good time, and someone wanted to tell you something valuable. Because you were having such a good time, you were more open to learning from this person. Contrast that with when you weren’t having a good time, and someone wanted to tell you something. More often than not, you won’t listen. This is why it is so important that there is fun in children’s books with moral lessons. Your best children’s books will first allow your child to have a good time and enjoy listening to it or reading it. Because they’re having a good time, they will be more open to learning than if you were just telling your child why these moral lessons matter.
Like with teachers, the best children’s books with moral lessons will also teach your child through demonstration and example. In fact, these are the lessons that will stick with your child for life. You probably can think of kid’s storybooks that had a positive impact on your life. Even if you nearly forgot the story, you still think of the lessons that the story taught, which is the most important thing.
Making a Positive Difference
You never know what story will stick out in the mind of your child. That’s why you should read them many of the best children’s books and plant the seeds. You might learn later what had the most positive impact on your child’s life.
An example of one of the best children’s books with moral lessons that you can buy to read to your child is Mr. Tater Tot At The Chase. Mr. Tater Tot is a hilarious wrinkly little English Bulldog that learns valuable lessons and can teach your child many things. The great thing about these books is how they center around moral lessons like forgiveness, acceptance, listening, moderation, apologizing, and other behaviors that show respect to other people. When people display these ethical behaviors to the world, it makes the world a better place. The Mr. Tater Tot At The Chase series is growing, and orders are currently open for book two: Too Much!