Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories

(Paperback - Nov 1994)
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Reading is one of the most effective ways to combat moral illiteracy and build a child's character. This book, featuring evaluations of more than 300 books for children - is designed to help parents and teachers find the best books available for teaching moral values. The books are divided into categories ranging from fables and fairytales through historical and contemporary fiction, history and biography to sacred text and books for holidays. Within each category the short, to-the-point summaries are organized by age groups.


  • SKU: 9780671884239
  • SKU10: 0671884239
  • Title: Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories
  • Qty Remaining Online: 110
  • Publisher: Touchstone Books
  • Date Published: Nov 1994
  • Pages: 336
  • Weight lbs: 0.85
  • Dimensions: 8.50" L x 5.50" W x 0.80" H
  • Features: Price on Product, Index, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Secular; Topical | Home Schooling;
  • Subject: Rhetoric

Chapter Excerpt

Reading to Children

Just as a child learns from real experiences, he can also learn from vicarious ones-and far more safely. Through books he can experience revelations that might not come to him until much later in the normal course of events: revelations of fear, of failure, of love, of understanding. What's more, reading provides a sort of mental rehearsal for the time when he encounters these experiences firsthand.

Here are some practical suggestions for sharing books with children:

  • Try to set aside some time each day for storytelling.

  • Recommended reading levels are only a rough guide. Parents need to develop a feel for what will work with their own children. Since there are so many good books available there's no reason to try to force a particular book on a child. This is doubly true for classics. They can be introduced too early or in the wrong way, spoiling a child's taste for them later on. Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona series, relates, "When I was a child, a relative gave me Ivanhoe to grow into. I was so disappointed that I still have not grown into it."

  • Keep in mind that children can understand and enjoy listening to stories that are above their actual reading level.

  • For very small children the main thing is to hear stories that are rhythmic and repetitive. It's the sound of the language that counts most at this stage.

  • Be aware that myths, fairy tales, and folktales come in many versions-versions that range from the sublime to the abysmal. For example, you wouldn't think that "Rumpelstiltskin" could be rolled out flat as a pancake, but it has been done. Another factor in choosing a version of a book is the quality of the illustrations. While illustrations are not all important, they do make a difference; look fo editions with illustrations that do justice to the text rather than trivialize it.

  • When reading aloud choose stories that you, yourself, like. Reading should be enjoyable for everyone involved.

  • Practice when possible. Good stories deserve a good reading. Read the story yourself before reading it to your children. That way you'll have a better idea of it's plot and rhythm and bumpy spots.

  • Be expressive. Learn when to slow down, when to speed up, when to pause. Create suspense by lowering your voice, create a dramatic effect by raising it. You might try changing your voice to fit each character. Don't be concerned that you lack the vocalization skills of a professional actor; children constitute a forgiving and enthusiastic audience.

  • It is important to set the right mood when reading aloud. Allow time for your children to settle down. If you're reading from a picture book you might spend some time talking about the book's cover. Ask your children what they think the story will be about. If it's a chapter in a novel, you might want to follow Jim Trelease's advice and ask, "Let's see-where did we leave off yesterday?" or 'What's happened so far?"

  • Don't be tempted to explain the "moral" of the story. Let the book speak for itself. Family reading time should not be confused with a class in interpretation. On the other hand, it's fine if a story leads to conversation. Occasionally it might be appropriate to ask a question or two about a character's actions or motivations. But don't overdo it. It's better if questions come spontaneously from your child.

  • Read-aloud time shoud be balanced with silent reading time. Even prereaders should have time alone with picture books. Try instituting a practice of silent reading time for the whole family. Instead of gathering around the television at night make the bookcase the focus of attention.

Copyright © 1994 by William Kilpatrick, Gregory Wolfe, and Suzanne M. Wolfe.



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