Stories are often the best way to capture a boy’s attention, the best way to drive home a moral point, and are also just good fun. With so many kids' books tied into popular cartoons or shows, I used to fear that my kids (particularly-my boy) were missing out on enjoying and learning from classic books.
We are a book-loving family, but to my dismay, my boy preferred to watch cartoons or read only comics. I know as a homeschool mom, I can get bogged down with trying to tie everything together, to plan the perfect unit study. I realized, however, that often my boy was best served by just sitting down and reading a good book together. Simple. No frills.
Sit down, read, enjoy and discuss. Books on audio from the library count, too!
There are so many great children’s books that highlight character, choosing right from wrong and growing into manliness. A few classics a boy-heart might enjoy include;
- Peter Pan- “All children, except one, grow up.” Who can resist such an opening line? There is something for mom here, too.. “Look at her in her chair, where she has fallen asleep…Her hand moves restlessly on her breast as if she had a pain there. Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her [mother] best.” Peter Pan, chapter 16
- Old Yeller. The Disney Movie was well done, but there are deeper man-truths in the book, and also, a sequel.
- The Summer of the Monkeys and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Yes, mom will cry-and your boy might too. Real men have real feelings, work hard for what they want, and realize that love is more important than things; a good lesson.
- Encyclopedia Brown. Maybe not classic, yet…but good, clean fun and good role modeling of being honest, fair and helping others.
- The Secret Garden. Not automatically a ‘girl’ book, there are some boy characters..one a bit spoiled -to not be like, and one strong, intelligent hard working boy to emulate.
- Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The book in the Little House series your boy will like the best. Lots of getting up early, hard work and lessons about gaining wisdom.
I know, from experience, that a lecture is the most sure way to shut my boy down. A lecture seems to bounce off some invisible wall between me and him. The subtle lesson shown, through a story, instead of lectured about, is more effective in reaching the heart. I will chose a book, after much prayer and thought- with a theme or situation that I hope my son will absorb, make applicable to his own situation, and learn from.
I have a teen-aged son now, a few character-building books for his age include;
- In His Steps
- Sentinel by L. Bilbrey
- Ender's Game
- Swiss Family Robinson (the original version)
- How to Eat Fried Worms
Lately, I've shared a few Grace Livingston Hill novels with my two youngest. Most of them are pretty formula-driven christian romance, (which I have to admit that I dearly love and I re-read her books all the time) but there are a few gems that celebrate the boy. Written in the early 1900's , the books offer rich history of daily life, too. The few I felt worth sharing with my boy are:
- A new name
- The obsession of Victoria Gracen
- Found Treasure
- Big Blue Soldier
- The Witness (a re-telling of Saul)
Well, this concludes my thoughts on how to teach character by stealth to your children, particularly, to your sometimes resistant boys.
Any to add to the list?