I hope these books on courage will help you as you train your kids to be brave, stand up to bullies, and deal with the challenges of life that can try and weigh us down. I hope you are familiar with my character development series. These books are a part of the series. I have spent the past 2 1/2 years developing a number of lessons on character building. The series contains 52 words (one for each week of the year) with 7-9 lessons for each word. I am adding literature to my series this year. I hope you will click on or hover over my “Character Development” tab to discover more. This week we focus on Courage.
Courage (Values) – I do enjoy these “Values” books. They are not stories, but I like how this book really gives a great definition of courage and gives lots of examples of what true courage looks like. It encourages kids to try new things by doing your best, being brave, not giving up , learning to make mistakes and having a personal set of values. It has glossary words with a lot of definitions of possible new words. It’s definitely direct instruction, which I think can be super helpful for kids.
Courage (Values to Live By) – Like the other book on “Courage” by Kimberly Pryor, this books is a more direct instruction book with definitions, clear examples and pictures of real kids showing a variety of ways of being brave.
Adventures in Odyssey Life Lessons: Courage (Focus on the Family) – I didn’t actually watch this one, but we had another “Adventures in Courage” movie about William Tell that we watched. We found it at the library. It seemed a little scary to me, but the kids normally let me know and seemed fine with it. I have heard great things about the adventures in Odyssey series, so I think I can recommend the one I linked to on Amazon with confidence. I couldn’t find the movie we watched on Amazon, but I can tell you that is is by Porchlight Entertainment and from the “acclaimed PBS Series – Adventures from the book of Virtues.”
Li Lun, Lad of Courage (The Newbery Honor Roll) – This is actually a novel, so I didn’t have a chance to read it this week.
A Land of Big Dreamers: Voices of Courage in America – This book takes you through the great voices of courage in American history. It gives a brief history of important men and women who took a stand during difficult times and have had a profound impact on the United States. It looks at the strength and bravery of people like Thomas Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sitting Bull, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. I think this book is good and the content is concise. I think it was for a child a bit older than mine. I would say a 4th or 5th grade interested in history would enjoy this, not that it wouldn’t benefit more kids. Actually, the book says it is aimed at kids age 8-11. Some of the leaders mentioned in this book I believe were mentioned just because they were leaders. I guess there is something about become a great leader that makes you courageous, but I feel like it was a stretch in some incidences. I did enjoy the watercolor artwork.
Secret of the Peaceful Warrior: A Story About Courage and Love – This is a great book. I wish the picture on the front wasn’t chosen to represent the book. This is a story about a boy who moves to a new school and is being bullied. He befriends an older grandpa named Socrates, and Socrates was properly named. He is full of all kinds of wisdom and helps train the boy to understand how to handle the bully. The grandpa-like figure reminds me of Mr. Miyami in the Karate Kid. He has different methods in training the boy to handle the bully. The boy is taught how to be courageous, willing to take a stand while being gentle in spirit. He reminds the boy that “The secret of courage is to act brave even when you’re not feeling very brave.” He has all kinds of nuggets of wisdom like this.
Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson – This story was written by Jackie Robinson’s daughter, Sharon. It is compiled of a few memories of her father. She recalled his bravery as he broke the color barrier by entering into Major League Baseball. He was ridiculed and treated horribly as he set out to play the game, but he was peaceful in courage so that he could help pave the way for equal rights for all people. His daughter recalls his stories but also recalls how she watched him bravely step out to test the ice one winter to make sure it was safe for the kids to go ice skating. She had seen her father stay on the shoreline, and it only registered, as she watched her father bravely standing in the middle of the lake testing that ice, that he could not swim. He showed a similar courage that day as he did withstanding all the evil jaunts throughout his career. This book honors Sharon’s dad, Jackie Robinson. It is a beautiful metaphor, and I really enjoy the artwork that was inspired by personal family photographs from the Robinson family. It is stunning in places.
Hilda Hen’s Scary Night – This is a cute book. Hilda stays out too late and has to make her way across the farmyard in the dark. She misinterprets what she sees throughout her journey but shows bravery as she encounters each obstacle. For example, she thinks a hose was a snake. She shows bravery and determination despite her misconceptions. The kids enjoyed figuring out what each “scary” item was before the truth was revealed.
Precious Little – I was intrigued by this book. It’s one of those books that I had to go read other people’s reviews to try and understand it better, but I think I’m still a tad confused by it. I love the glittery cover, and the artwork is amazing and completely drew me into the story. I found the books whimsical and lovely to some extent but confusing also. I found it both fascinating, fun and annoying that there was a moment where the girl was tumbling and turning and you had to continue to flip the book around to read it. The text had a lot of movement both in sentence structure as well as how it was formatted on the page. I liked that, but it also wasn’t done well at times. The characters were unique and intriguing. The story was about a humble girl who was a helper at the circus. She did mundane jobs for the circus performers but dreamed about flying like the trapeze artists in the air. It took a lot of bravery and practice for her to see if she could do their tricks. She was willing to give it a go in the end. I was confused by the final outcome. I think the kids were equally confused and it might be an interesting story to try and read and interpret with older kids.
Chick-o-Saurus Rex – This is a cute book, but I also have my hesitations with it. There is a club that the “bullies” (a pig, a sheep and a donkey) only allow the most strong and courageous animals to join. The evidence of being brave comes from heritage. The chick wants to join, but they are unimpressed with the heritage of chicken. After all, waking people in the morning with a cocka-doodle-doo is not very brave or glamorous. The chick went back to find someone courageous in his lineage and delves into paleontology and finds a t-rex bone. After studying the bones he believes he is the ancestor of a t-rex and goes to the bullies to report. He sees a wolf trying to attack the bullies and scares them away by being brave with a t-rex bone and proves he is worthy to join the club. Actually, they decide to make it an open club where everyone is welcome. My problem is that I don’t believe in pond scum to man evolution. I believe there are changes within kinds of animals but not that monkey became a man and t-rex became a chicken. I think the evidence for evolution in this sense is very weak. There are quite a number of high achieving well studied scientists that also hold the view that evolution is not a fact. Despite disagreeing with this scientific theory – because that is all it is, a theory – I don’t shy away from this discussion with my kids. They’re going to face this theory some day. I may as well navigate the discussion with my kids before they are taught it elsewhere. They can learn to think and question and understand that sometimes what is presented as “fact” in this world is actually theory or opinion. I think it’s a healthy discussion to have.
Freda Stops a Bully (Stuart J. Murphy’s I See I Learn Series) – Freda goes to school in her new pink shoes, but she is made fun of by one boy, who influences others to laugh at her. Her mom, friends and teachers try to help her navigate this tough scenario by giving her advice for dealing with bullies. Don’t listen. Walk away. Get help. Say stop. It is all good advice. I also talk to my kids about the Bible verse that says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I always want them to know that praying for those people is a great solution too. The book is well done and gives clear advice. It asks question in the end to help kids delve further into the dilemma about how to deal with bullies. These are unfortunate books to need, but it would be a great discussion tool for this topic that is very real for some kids. This author, Stuart J. Murphy, has a series called the “I See I Learn” books that help with a lot of character building topics.
Of Course They Do!: Boys and Girls Can Do Anything – I don’t know if this book fits in here, but I’m going for it. I believe girls and boys are made differently. There are a certain ways men are wired that are just different than women, and this is proven. I’ve read a lot of books about marriage, and I’ve talked to my husband about the topic a lot. Boys just function different. However, that doesn’t mean that girls can’t be interested in things that have traditionally only been associated with men. Likewise, boys might have interests in things generally associated with girls. This books works to break down some of the gender assumptions. Can boys enjoy dancing? or cooking? Can girls enjoy sports? or science? The books shows that “Of course they do.” I associated this book with courage because sometimes it takes courage to try things that others (especially of the same gender) might look down upon because it doesn’t fit the stereotypical boy or girl role.
Boy and the Dragon, The I love this book. It definitely reads like a story and is a compelling to read. A young boy starts off on a journey with three mighty men to fight a dragon. He is brought along to carry their things. The other companions get distracted by their abilities along the road, so the young boy has to bravely face the dragon alone. He uses his wit and courage to drive the dragon away. This book has great illustrations, and I enjoyed the writing. It is a rhyming book and has great cadence. My kids all enjoyed the book too.
The Berenstain Bears and the Gift of Courage (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights) – This is another great Berenstain Bear book. Sister has to build up courage to deal with the bullies of the school. Learning about David and Goliath becomes, for her, a real encouragement about how a little one can have the strength to overcome. I always like the Berenstain Bear books for their lessons in morality and Christian character training.
Oh Yeah! – This was a cute book. It’s about two boys who are camping out in the backyard and are determined to be brave. They mentally build and build on things that could be scary and convince each other that they won’t be scared even if… They have all kinds of spooky scenarios worked out, but their bravery is tested when they see what they believe to see the “big, hairy, kid-eating monster.” It’s definitely an entertaining book about boys who pretend to be braver than they really are, but I guess convincing yourself you have courage is half the battle.
VeggieTales – Esther, the Girl Who Became Queen – VeggieTales provides a great lesson in courage with the story of Esther. In true VeggieTales style, they use humor and truth to teach valuable Biblical stories and lessons. I have loved the VeggieTales since I was in high school when they first came out with the series. Has it really been that long? I used to own CD’s, and I’d listen to these even as a young adult. I know that seems goofy, but it’s just the truth.
WHERE’S GOD WHEN I’M SCARED – Here is another great VeggieTales movie about handling fear. It teaches that God is always there for us, and we can rely on him for strength and courage. I have already established that I love the VeggieTales, so here is another movie that I recommend. This one was on Netflix and is only 30 minutes long. My kids clap along while singing and laughing with the introduction. This is a story about how “God is bigger than the boogie man.” God created everything, and we can count on Him because He’s on our team. This movie also talks about the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. My daughter informed me, during this movie, that she just wants to jump in the TV. I asked her why, and she said because she wants to eat the tomato. Watch out, Bob!