Books to Teach Kids Values

Most young children like books that talk about values and ethical dilemmas. That's because these questions are at the heart of what makes life meaningful, which is a primary question for children beginning at about the same age -- the preschool years -- when they first become aware of death.

"Values" means what we hold dear, what we value. So we teach children about values every day, in every choice we make. By the time kids are teenagers, they can say clearly what their parents value, even if no explicit teaching has occurred. But sometimes that gives kids a warped view of life. For instance, they may conclude that what matters to us is money, when what really matters to us is family, or making the world a better place. Wouldn't it be preferable to do explicit teaching about values with our children?

The problem is that kids don't learn from lectures. That's like pushing our opinions and beliefs at them, telling them what to think. And too often we're lecturing when they've made poor choices, admonishing them to "be good." Kids tune those lectures out, especially if they're upset (which turns off the learning centers of the brain.)

There is a place for direct guidance. Kids need to be told explicitly that their choices do matter, that every choice they make defines them, and makes the world a better or worse place. But mostly kids learn from discussion -- good questions from us, and good listening from us while they reflect aloud about what they think. And maybe the best way to start those discussions is with books that we read while they're young and searching for answers about how the world works and how to live a good life.

Here are some I'd recommend. If you have a book you think I should add to this list, please email me.

PLEASE NOTE: These books are Amazon links with photos of the books. If you are not seeing them on your page, it may be that your browser is not picking them up. Please try a different browser. Enjoy!

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