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We’ve all heard the coined phrase “the moral of the story.” You know…those snippets of wisdom your parents used to explain the reasoning behind the way things were; the difference between right and wrong, good vs. bad behavior, and on the list goes. Well, in this ever-changing world, these “snippets” seem to have stuck around in the most classic of tales. I have compiled a list of nine classic children’s books that have captured the essence of these bits of wisdom that I have so fondly shared with my own little ones. These exemplary children’s books are sure to be around for many more years to come.
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9 Exemplary Children’s Books that Teach Ethics & Moral
First let me say, a boy and a tree is just not your typical love story, but Shel did an amazing job of showing that love unconditional is attainable. As a mother, I’m sure you can relate. I can’t help but connect the way I love my children to the way the tree provided for the boy. Over and over again, through every transition in the boy’s life, the tree would give whatever she had to make sure the boy was satisfied until she had nothing left to give.
Moral – Don’t take for granted those that love you; they won’t always be there.
Yet another children’s book that is not only filled with beautifully intense illustrations but also a sound moral principle. This book about the “most beautiful fish in the sea,” captures what it means to be able to share joy with others. As Rainbow Fish so proudly ignores his peers, he suddenly realizes that all the beauty in the world means nothing in terms of happiness. After giving just one of his shiny scales to a peer, he is overcome with a new found joy and satisfaction.
Moral – Having it all isn’t worth anything if you don’t have someone to share it with.
In this colorful tail, Elmer the multi-colored elephant, stands out above the rest. Elmer isn’t happy that he is so different from the others in his herd. One day he decides to do something about it and covers himself with grey berry juice. He soon realizes that he is unrecognizable to his peers, leaving him feeling alone. He realizes things are more fun when you embrace who you are.
Moral – Everyone has their own unique qualities. Be yourself and stand out in the crowd.
Miss Nelson, a caring school teacher, loses hope when her class of unruly children won’t pay attention and are very disobedient. The children laugh and act out during story time and refuse to do their assigned work. The next day, Miss Nelson is replaced by a new teacher, Miss Viola Swamp, who is anything but nice. She keeps the children busy all day, even making them do homework and miss story time. After days with the wicked Miss Viola, the children go looking for Miss Nelson with no luck. After days of disappointment and the class feeling sorry for the way they treated her, Miss Nelson returns. The children are excited to see her back. They were even quiet during story time.
Moral – Don’t take others’ kindness for granted.
This children’s book is truly a classic that is referred to today by those young and old. The little train is excited to be delivering many toys and food to the boys and girls over the hill. Suddenly, the engine breaks down and the little train becomes discouraged as she is worried she won’t make it in time to deliver the goods to the children. One, two, three trains pass by all too proud to help. Finally, the smallest of trains stops and agrees to help even though she is not as big and strong as the others. She chugs along the tracks, pulling with all her might until she finally reaches the destination.
Moral – Don’t give up. Keep a positive attitude.
Charlotte’s Web is a truly heartwarming story about friendship that I enjoy as an adult as much as I did as a child. White did an amazing job capturing true friendship in this tail of Wilbur the pig and his dear friend Charlotte.
Wilbur is born a runt but is saved by the farmer’s daughter, Fern. He soon goes to live at a nearby farm where he seems to have a difficult time making friends. One day he meets Charlotte the spider, and an unlikely friendship begins to form. When Wilbur finds out he is to be had for Christmas dinner, Charlotte does everything in her power to save Wilbur even as she is dying herself.
Moral – Appreciate differences. True friendship can form in the most unlikely places.
Well of course I couldn’t leave out Dr. Seuss! With his playful way with words, he does a rather good job of explaining that things could be worse. You could have to mow grass for so little pay, or you could have a tail with so many knots, and you could have to ride a camel or be a bee watcher, and you could live where there are plants that eat pants. My kids just eat it up. It’s unconventional and fun and definitely a delight for the kids.
Moral – Be grateful for what you have. It could be worse.
A little stuffed bear in a department store waits patiently for someone to pick him up and take him home. A mother points out to her little girl that he’s missing a button. Thinking this must be the reason he isn’t wanted, Corduroy sets out in the store to find the missing button. He doesn’t find his button, but the next day the little girl comes back to purchase him just the way he is.
Moral – You don’t have to be perfect to belong or fit in. You are loved just the way you are.
This children’s book is a retelling of the story from Aesop’s Fables, and Mr. Ross definitely tells it in his own words. I remember hearing this story many times before ever reading the book. In the story, Willy cries “Wolf” more times than one to avoid doing things he found to be less than fun. Eventually, when there really was a wolf, Willy’s credibility was ruined and no one believed him. Willy was left to deal with the problem on his own.
Moral – Honesty is best practice.
I hope you enjoyed this great list of exemplary children’s books! When it comes to teaching our children, they don’t always want to listen to us. Sharing knowledge and lessons learned through stories like these, is a great way to allow our children to learn on their own through the eyes of others.
What are your favorite classic children’s books? Leave a comment and let me know what’s most popular in your home.
And those mamas with tween girls at home, you’ll definitely want to check out these 8 Positive Books to Help Your Girl Conquer the Tween Years!