Stories can have a powerful influence on the formation of character and values in children. As such, the potential for character formation via stories is an important criterion for adults to consider when selecting books for children. In this article, I will describe how stories of virtue and vice can shape character in children, and I will offer some advice on choosing children’s books with character-building stories.
This article is an installment in my continuing series on how to choose children’s books, which begins here. In the previous article in this series I discussed the question of how adults should handle mischief in children’s books.
Stories of Virtue: Character-Building Stories
Historically, story telling for children has been a feature of most cultures. Often, this story telling has had the purpose, at least in part, of forming the character of children. Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairy Tales are good examples of character-building stories, i.e., traditional stories that have aimed at developing character in children. As I noted in “Character Development in Children: Books with Exemplary Characters”, the success of books like William Bennett’s The Book of Virtues suggests that many in our contemporary culture also recognize the connection between stories of virtue and character formation in children. This connection with character formation is part of what can give stories developmental value for children. Continue reading