Virtue – It is something we would love to see in our kids, and it gets harder and harder to establish in a grey world that teaches a post modern thought that whatever if right for you is right for you. However, we teach our kids there is a right and a wrong. Yes, we love others and get away from judging others. However, truth is truth, and we have to stand on the Bible as we navigate OUR OWN behavior. We need to rely on God to change us to make us more virtuous, and we need to take steps in becoming that way by relying on the ways He provides us out of the temptation that haunts us all. We need to teach our kids grace, knowing that we are going to mess it all up. We have a loving God who offers forgiveness. We can’t use His grace as an excuse for sin. Therefore, we teach our kids about doing what is right…not as a means of salvation but so that the world can be impacted in a better way – for life – for Christ. These books should help you as you navigate this journey with your kids. I have reviewed the books that I have read. These books are a part of my Character Development Series. I have 52 character traits to focus on throughout the year. Each trait has 7-8 lessons associated with it. This week the focus is virtue. Please click back for my previous lessons on virtue.
What Would Jesus Do? – This book we found at our church library. The book I have linked to on Amazon does have a different color and illustrator, but everything else on the cover is the same so I assume it is the same content. I think they just modernized the pictures. The original pictures are pretty dated, reminding me of scenes from Little House on the Prairie or current day Amish living. I could see how some of the stories would rub people wrong with a very specific gender role stereotype. That said, the story resembles that of the Good Samaritan. It’s about a little boy who needs help and approaches people at a church picnic who are too busy doing their own thing to help. Through some convicting words they realize their actions are not like Jesus and start making choices to serve and help rather than getting caught up in their own worlds. The poem the kids say to themselves is, “When I’m faced with a fear or a bad attitude, when I want to be angry or worried or rude, when I don’t want to serve, and I don’t want to love – when only MYSELF is what I’m thinking of – right from the start I will ask in my heart, What would Jesus do?” This is a longer book that moves on to a variety of scenarios where the kids and adults ask themselves over and over again, “What would Jesus do?” I like how they make some mistakes along the way and show the real human, selfish side of trying to become more like Jesus. Some of it was a bit disjointed and dated to me, but the message was good.
What Would You Do? (Book for Preschoolers) – This book gives a variety of moral decisions kids might come across as they are growing and learning right from wrong. It shows the situation, gives a couple of solutions (one more selfish and one more virtuous) and then asks the reader, “What would you do?” It is a simple book but a great way to engage the kids. They definitely know all the right answers, but it’s good to talk about how it’s hard sometimes to live out what we know is right.
New Friends, Good Friends? – This story is important to start the discussion about peer pressure and choosing the right friends. The forward by the authors, Josh and Dottie McDowell says that, “Research has shown that the pressure to conform, to be like the crowds, or to be accepted by another is one of the contributing factors to teenage involvement in drugs, alcohol, and premarital sexual activity.” We, as parents, need to combat this by starting the conversation early. This story has a boy who wants to be liked by the other kids so he starts to do things that are not right to receive their attention. He gets the reminder from his parents that it is not OK to do the wrong thing to get friends. His parents make him apologize for the things he has done wrong even though it is hard for him to admit. It is a good book to begin the discussion even though I found it a little cheesy at times.
The Berenstain Bears Play a Good Game (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights) – This book looks at the thought of virtue through the world of sports. There are two teams – one out to win no matter what the cost and one who has learned to play fair and have fun. Playing a competitive game is one thing but an ugly game is quite another. This becomes a lesson for both the team and coaches to remember that “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The coaches learn to teach the kids to play fair so that both teams can have fun. It is important for kids to do the right thing no matter what the setting.
Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue (I Can Read! / Good Deed Scouts / Living Lights) – This book has three stories in one. The stories are easy to read and, in true Berenstain Bear style, really teach a moral lesson well. It features a group of Good Deed Scouts who go around all day trying to find good deeds to do. The first story is a little over the top with the fire station, news helicopter and mayor getting involved in a story about a cat stuck in the tree. However, all of the stories show how these cubs are willing to take time out of their day to help others and do the right thing.
My friend, Janine, at True Aim Education, has a FREE Book of Virtues. I hope you will take advantage of that resource.
Sybil, at She Lives Free, also has a number of books reviewed in her series, “Service Learning for Kids – Raising the Next Generation to Give more than they Get” – Here are her posts with resources about Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Inspiring Kids to Pay it Forward, and Raising Volunteers.