Thursday, October 04, 2007

Books that Build Character

Books that Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values through Stories, William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe
(Simon & Schuster, 1994), pb., 332 pp.

This is a great book that we have found very helpful in finding good books for our children. It is one I would heartily recommend for all parents. It contains five chapters on issues in reading, books, and children and then a 200+ page annotated list of recommended books arranged by genre and age level. My assessment is not always the same as theirs, but the authors are by and large kindred spirits. They are right on the important role of stories in shaping the imagination and character of children (and adults as well!).

Here are a few quotes:

“there are thousands of finely crafted stories for children that make honesty, responsibility, and compassion come alive. But they are not always easy to find. Concepts such as virtue, good example, and character have been out of fashion in our society for quite some time, and their absence le guidebooks to children’s literature.” (17)

“Try to distinguish between issues and virtues. Many contemporary children’s books focus on trendy issues rather than character development. You should be looking for books that reinforce courage, responsibility, and perseverance rather than books that offer prepackaged opinions on divorce, euthanasia, and the like. You want your child to acquire strengths of character before he acquires a lot of secondhand opinions. It’s one thing to have an opinion on an issue such as immigration, and quite another to develop a habit of helping those you have an opportunity to help. Having enlightened opinions is no substitute for having character.” (55)

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