Welcome to Day 2 of my 10 Days of… series on Teaching Values in your homeschool! One of the easiest things you can do in your homeschool is teach values with books and that’s exactly what I’ll show you how to do!
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Teaching Values with Books
Today I’m writing about one of my very favorite topics – living literature! There are SO many ways you can use books to encourage good values in your children – and teach about the consequences of poor values as played out in the lives of book characters. Whether you’re teaching preschoolers or high school students, living literature is a gold mine for values training.
Yesterday, I mentioned the Fruits of the Spirit as defined in Galatians 5:22-23 as our “go-to” list of virtues for training our children. While that is certainly the list I focus on most in my home, there are plenty of other virtues which are important to instill in our children like gratefulness, truthfulness, hospitality, thriftiness, punctuality, attentiveness, and many more.
You can find a wonderful list of virtues along with an amazing set of Bible and teaching ideas for each virtue at Home Life Ministries. Don’t miss this website! Also, while I’m not entirely sure of the content of The Virtues Project website, they have three printable posters of virtues you might be interested in.
Considering all the possible values to reinforce, it would be nearly impossible for me or anyone else to give you a comprehensive list of the best books to use for each and every virtue. While some websites and books set out to get you started on the practice of teaching values with books (see below), my intent is to show you how I take just about any book we read and use it for at least some character training.
A Sample Lesson To Teach Values with Books
You can pretty much use any ol’ book you might find at the library, but let’s look at The Three Little Pigs together today. You know the story, right? It’s a great book to read for the sake of reading, but it also makes a great model for good and bad character.
If I was intending to use the story for a character building lesson, I would likely start with some open-ended questions after reading the story with my children:
Two potential discussions…
If you’re dealing with a kiddo who’s been struggling with not being very nice, the conversation might start with:
What do you think about the wolf? Why do you think he was called the ‘Big Bad Wolf’? I wonder what prompted the wolf to be so mean? You think he was just hungry? Okay, what could the pigs have done to help him? When people are mean, should we try to help them? What if they don’t want to be helped by us? Is there ever a time when we should run away from people instead of helping them? (Stranger talk!)
Or, if you’re dealing with a kiddo who’s been struggling with laziness, the conversation might start with:
Tell me what you think about each of the houses that the pigs made. Whose house stood strong against the wolf? Why? What did the other two pigs want to do rather than build strong houses? Do you think they were prepared for the troubles that came their way? What other troubles might they not have been prepared for? What does God tell us about being lazy in the Bible? Is there a time to play and relax?
Sometimes, all it takes is seeing a bad or good character quality in a book character to get the point across to your children. These gentle discussions can be very helpful for bringing certain things to a child’s attention without necessarily getting into lecture-type discussion.
As you can probably see, there are other discussions you could have based simply on this little picture book, too! When you’re watchful, you’ll find that you can teach values with books that are already on your bookshelves almost every time.
One other thing I might mention… When I’m preparing for a character talk (or when one comes out of nowhere), I’ll often browse through my copy of For Instruction in Righteousness. It prepares me with Bible verses, Bible stories, and ideas to bring home the point on a huge number of “character issues”. It’s been one of the most used book in my home! In fact, I’m planning to write a whole post on how I use this book as part of our values training later in this 10 Days series.
Some Great Resources To Teach Values with Books
The following websites offer wonderful collections of character building literature:
Below are some book series which we have found to be fantastic for character building:
Miller Stories (from a conservative, Mennonite viewpoint, but great morals)
Pearables (occasionally legalistic, but many good discussion points)
You might find this large selection of Aesop’s Fables helpful since every story has an obvious moral to discuss with your children.
(Short fables like these are good for assignments, too, where you ask your child to develop her own moral or write/act out a new version where the character makes better decisions.)
The books in the widget below contain either book lists of great literature (with a moral) for all ages, or are collections themselves of literature selections.
I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as we discuss teaching values through service and leadership opportunities!
Additional Character Resources