“A 1985 report by the National Commission on Reading declared that reading aloud is the single most important contribution that parents can make toward their child’s success in school.”  Let’s take that one step further and declare that reading aloud also builds good character, especially if the books are selected wisely.  Why?  Let’s look at three reasons:

  1. Children learn from having an emotional connection with characters in the story.
  2. Children learn to identify with character qualities that both delight and instruct the heart.
  3. Stories stir our imaginations and stick in our memory. The characters become our friends.

Plato told us this about the imagination: “Children, he said, should be brought up in such a way that they will fall in love with virtue and hate vice.”  You might ask, “How does this happen?” “By being exposed to the right kind of stories, music, and art,” said Plato.  Books inspire a love for goodness.
For example, want your children to help with chores? Read to them The Little House on the Prairie where it talks about Laura and Mary getting up early, eating breakfast and then helping Ma wash the dishes.  What little girl doesn’t want to be like Mary or Laura?  Assisting parents with household responsibilities is much easier to emulate when ‘friends from a book’ also show that type of responsible behavior.

Following is an abbreviated list of books recommended from Books That Build Character (ages 4 to 8):
The Boy Who Held Back the Sea – Lenny Hort
Brave Irene – William Steig
Dogger – Shirley Hughes
Forest of Dreams – Rosemary Wells
Just Like Max – Karen Ackerman
The Little House – Virginia Lee Burton
Owl Moon – Jane Yolen
Miss Rumphius – Barbara Cooney
The Runaway Bunny – Margaret Wise Brown
The Story of Ping – Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wise
Through Grandpa’s Eyes – Patricia MacLachlan
Waiting for Hannah – Marisabina Russo
When I Was Young in the Mountains – Cynthia Rylant

FABLES and FAIRY TALES
The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories – Edited with commentary, by William Bennett
Aesop’s Fables – Aesop, illustrated by Arthur Rackham
The Hare and the Tortoise – Caroline Castle
The Ugly Duckling – Hans Christian Andersen

Books That Build Character is a treasure. It categorizes storybooks for Younger (4-8 years); Middle Readers (8-12 years); Older Readers (12 and up). It is available at the site below for about $5.

Meg King shared this site for purchasing books inexpensively, no shipping: www.betterworldbooks.com.

Jeannie shares a few of her favorite ways to bring reading to life!