Storytelling has been around for ages. Before there were books, “elders” would tell stories aloud–stories that were passed down from generation to generation. Most often, those stories were stories with morals meant to teach a lesson. Today people young and old more often read stories with morals in book form rather than hear them from their elders. However, whether one reads or listens to stories, the act of learning something from the story is what is most important.
Reading to learn hasn’t changed. In fact, if you go back to the beginning of your life, you may remember many stories with morals you read as a child, and most of these stories probably had a lesson it imparted onto you that you still use to this day. These stories with morals matter and are an integral part of life, whether young or old.
Stories with Morals and Social and Emotional Learning
Let’s start at the beginning. You have a beautiful little baby and want her to grow into a kind and compassionate, happy and successful human. You talk with your child, show her how to play with toys, catch her when she falls. You teach her manners and how to make friends. You show her how to love.
All of these things are wonderfully important, but there is something else to add: reading her stories with morals that will help shape who she becomes.
Firstly, reading to a child is an essential part of helping her brain develop! According to the article from Healthline, “Reading to Children: Why It’s So Important and How to Start,” reading to your child helps her with language development and stimulates her imagination. It helps her understand the world. Reading to your child also creates a bond between the both of you. It helps your child develop a longer attention span and teaches her how to become a good listener. Additionally, and equally important, it helps her develop socially and emotionally.
The social/emotional part that comes with reading to your child gives you the power to help mold her into a kind and compassionate, happy and successful adult. While we don’t have total control over who our children become, we can give our children a good foundation on which to start; stories with morals are important catalysts for this very reason. Stories with morals help children learn the ways of the world and open up room for discussion between you and your child.
Stories with Morals and Making Sense of the World
When storytelling was an oral tradition, children listened and learned many stories with morals. They respected their “elders” and learned about their world through these stories. Then as the children grew, they passed those stories with morals onto their own children in order to teach them the lessons that would help them become kind and compassionate, happy and successful adults.
Now that oral tradition has become somewhat of a lost art, we rely on books and stories with morals to help guide our children in the right direction. We only have our children for a little while, and it is so important to use that time wisely. We must read to them and teach them to become lifelong readers. We must teach them to never stop learning.
We also must teach them how to be good humans. Because once they set out in the world and begin making friends and thinking for themselves, we can only hope that they hear our voice in the back of their mind reminding them what is right from wrong.
Because we live in a world that can be chaotic and scary, our children oftentimes need help making sense of it. How do you make life less scary and filled with more joy and happiness? How do you remain kind and compassionate when everything surrounding you tests your ability to do so? How do you know when you are making the right choices?
The answer to those questions often brings us back to the basics. Back to the lessons we learned as children. Back to the stories with morals. With these stories with morals, we give our children the groundwork they need to conquer the scary and overwhelming, the new and different.
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And when our children become adults, and they become kind and compassionate, happy and successful, it truly benefits everyone. It affects with whom they become friends. It affects what choices they make when faced with adversity. It affects who they work with as well as who they fall in love with and with whom they choose to make their own family. Our job in molding their foundation is much more important than we realize.
7 Stories with Morals to Read with Your Child
The Crow and the Peacock, derived from Aesop’s Fables
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your child is the understanding that she is perfect as she is. With modern-day’s mature content that seems to be in children’s lives much earlier than parents would like, questioning whether she is beautiful enough, smart enough, cool enough, etc., is something she will probably face early and can battle all her life. Teaching your child to be happy with herself is crucial to her having a healthy mentality, and the earlier she learns this, the better.
In this beautiful story, originally derived from one of Aesop’s Fables, children will learn about a crow who doesn’t feel he is good enough because there are so many other, more beautiful birds out there. However, by the end, the crow learns to be proud of who he is and with the abilities he has. This wonderful story can be found in many different versions with a quick Google search. However, Jo Fernihough wrote a beautiful rendition with gorgeous artwork. And the BBC has a great version that you can read and listen to here.
The Invisible Boy, Trudy Ludwig
Every child needs to learn how to share; it is a big part of life. Sharing with siblings, friends, etc., must be taught. When we think about stories with morals about sharing, we can come up with many that teach about sharing what we have, especially to those in need. While this is important, we need to take it one step further. We must teach our children to share not only material items, but also their time, energy, and friendship. This is something we don’t see enough of in this world—giving from the heart—and it is the basis of human kindness.
In this kind-hearted story about a boy who feels invisible, children will learn about how terrible it is to feel invisible and left out. Though by the end, (you might need to break out your tissues) the moral becomes clear that extending a simple act of kindness can change a person’s experiences. There is a read-aloud found here, or you can go to the author’s page here.
The Princess and the Pea, derived from the original story by Hans Christian Andersen
Wow, it’s hard not to judge a book by its cover, isn’t it? That makes it even harder to teach this concept to our children. It’s innate. It’s human nature. But it’s immensely true that we should not jump to conclusions about a person based on what he/she looks like. In a world that feels so divided, this lesson is especially important today.
The Princess and the Pea is a rather cute story where a girl (the princess) tries to make the queen believe that she is a princess. The queen finally believes her after putting her through a test, and the moral is evident that you cannot judge someone by their looks alone. While you can find Hans Christian Andersen’s version anywhere on the web, here is the Golden Books version read aloud. Additionally, while many people have written their own renditions, Kolanovic Dubravaka’s version is very true to the original. Or, as an added bonus, you can choose this version, by Rachel Isadora, to add diversity into the story, giving you and your child even more to talk about.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf, derived from Aesop’s Fables
Children need to learn that there are consequences for lying. And in a world where there is much tumult, understanding that honesty is best is incredibly important. This skill is one a child should learn young, and it is one that should be reinforced time and time again. Gaining people’s trust is not very easy to do, especially as we grow older and wearier of the world around us. So honesty ranks up there with kindness and compassion as an incredibly essential quality to have.
In this classic fable, the boy quickly learns what happens when you lie to people. This childhood favorite is a terrific way to explain how honesty is always best. As the boy finds it funny to “cry wolf” when he is bored, he soon finds out that if you keep lying to people, they will stop believing what you say. This story can be found in many places, probably even in your own memory. However, here is a great reading of the book. Or, you can find the book retold by many authors, including Teresa Mlawer.
The Three Little Pigs, originally by Joseph Jacobs
Can we all agree that hard work pays off? If we instill this value in our children from a young age, we are doing them a huge favor! This value will follow them into adulthood and they will appreciate you for it. So will anyone close to them. Life is hard work all around. It’s important to teach our children this while they are young so that when they grow older and leave our nest, they know how to do be hard workers on their own.
This fun classic proves that hard work pays off as the third little piggy’s house saves them all from the big, bad wolf. The moral of the story will help you to talk to your child about how and why hard work (and sharing, too, as a bonus!) will help her succeed in life. You can look for this story and find many renditions, and you can probably even recite it from memory; however, here are a few cute books you can check out: by Patricia Seibert; or by Tiger Tales!
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I Just Don’t Like the Sound of NO!, by Julia Cook
Oh boy, kids do not like to hear the word “No.” They will beg and beg and even tell you that they’ll eat all of their vegetables at dinner time just to get what they want. But we have to teach them that they must accept “No” as an answer sometimes. They also have to accept that there are times when other people will not agree with their thoughts and opinions, and that’s OK. It’s a tough lesson to learn, and even as adults it is hard hearing the word “No.” However, it’s a part of life that is important to understand.
Julia Cook’s book (which is part of a great series, by the way), tells the story of R.J., who does not like to hear the word “No.” He will argue and beg, thinking he will win, and is upset when he doesn’t. However, by the end of the story, R.J. learns that disagreeing appropriately feels much better and gets him further. Parents and teachers love this book and the social skills it teaches.
The Lion and the Mouse, derived from Aesop’s Fables
Being nice to people, even when we don’t feel like it, is something even adults struggle with at times. It’s hard to gather up kindness to give when the world around you is oftentimes very tough. But kids need to learn to treat others as they would like to be treated. This golden rule is important to learn early because when you make kindness a habit, it is much easier to be nice even when you don’t feel like being nice. Even when someone is not so nice to you.
The Lion and the Mouse is a very short story that teaches kids that kindness matters. When the lion spares the mouse’s life, the mouse promises to do the same for him one day, should he ever need it. Well, the day comes when the lion is trapped and the mouse is able to return the favor. Even a lion and a mouse can be nice to each other. You can find a copy of the story here, or you can find a beautiful picture book here.
There are so many books out there to teach each of these stories with morals. And there are even more morals to teach than those in this article. What’s important is that we teach our children right from wrong and how to be good human beings. Books and stories are a fabulous way to do this, and reading these to your child can help you build that solid foundation she needs to become an amazing adult. Again, we only get them for a short period of time before they go off on their own and have to make decisions by themselves. Let’s make that time meaningful!
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