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Children's Books that Convey a Lesson or Moral

Updated on January 13, 2018

What sets a book apart from the rest? It can be a book that tugs on the heartstrings, one that fuels an imagination for life, or one that convey's a lesson or moral. The book should read well, it should captivate interest or involvement, but most importantly, it should teach a worthy lesson that a child will never forget.

1. Loudmouth George and the Sixth Grade Bully by Nancy Carlson

In this book, George learns how to "diplomatically" deal with a bully who keeps taking his lunch. Instead of crying or hiding, his friend Harriet makes George a tasty treat that will leave him thinking twice about bullying. In the end, it earns George respect. This book is a great way to generate an attitude of solving problems rather than complaining about them.

2. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

A clever mom uses reverse psychology to get Frances to eat something besides the bread and jam she demanded at every meal. It doesn’t take long for Frances to feel left out and want the same thing everyone else is having. It's a good lesson for the rebellious child.

3. Fox Tale by Yossi Abolafia

This book shares the story of a fox who cheats all the forest animals out of the food they have worked hard and foraged for. The animals start comparing notes and devise a plan to help the fox understand how sorry he should be for his deception, and ultimately it brings all the animals together. A great story of forgiveness and teamwork.

4. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (the complete, original edition) - A happy cargo train delivers food and toys to the children until it breaks down. Both the shiny passenger train and the strong freight train refuse to pull the likes of the cargo train to assistance. Even the rusty old train claims it is too tired to help. Finally, a tiny switching train without the capacity to help, actually succeeds at pulling the cargo train to it’s destination, all because of her can-do attitude. It's a great way to remind your child that he (or she) can do anything he sets his mind to.

5. The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone - The hen did all the chores, planted and harvested the wheat, and cooked all the food while the cat, the dog, and the mouse slept, refusing to help her. When the hen finishes preparing her delectable meal, they all suddenly want to eat but the red hen says, no. I planted, I harvested, and I cooked, so I alone will eat. This is a good read for reinforcing the importance of teamwork and comradery with other children.

6. Sara Raccoon and the Secret Place by Margaret Burdick - Sara found a secret place inside a tree and claimed it for herself. To her surprise, she found an otter in the tree one day and rudely kicked him out. When unexpected rains flooded her tree, however, the otter came to Sara’s rescue and even opened up his secret place to her making them bosom buddies. It's the perfect tale showing how forgiveness leads to healing.

7. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams - It probably goes without saying, this is one of the greatest stories of all time. A young boy makes an old, abandoned rabbit come to life again because the boy loved it so much. It’s a long read and your child may lose interest, in which case I recommend the movie version produced by Family Home Entertainment as told by Christopher Plummer, running time 30 minutes. The lesson: love is the greatest miracle of all.

8. The Ugly Duckling by Margaret Wise Brown - Another classic, but it should not be forgotten. This book teaches that beauty has nothing to do with appearance. It's a great read for the child struggling with their appearance. The classic version is ideal if you're on a budget. The more expensive version illustrated by Gil DiCicco is superb.

9. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister - The beautifully scaled blue fish refuses to share one of his many scales with an earnest admirer. Word gets out and soon all the fish scoff at the rainbow fish (like he had scoffed at his admirer). The octopus teaches the rainbow fish that happiness comes from giving and not from taking. This is the perfect book to help remedy a child of selfish tendencies.

10. Henry’s World Tour by Robert Quackenbush - A duck tours all the continents in search of his roots - a speckled tail. Several geographical adventures later Henry learns that he had simply sat in wet paint. This read reminds us life is about the journey. It's a great way to reinforce geography.

11. Incredible Ned by Bill Maynard - Ned has a special talent. Whatever he says appears like magic. The magic is fun but disrupting so Ned is exiled to silence by the school principal. In his silence, Ned discovers an amazing artistic ability. It's the perfect read for an autistic child or someone who feels set apart by IQ or a special talent.

12. The Tortoise and the Hare by Janet Stevens - You can never go wrong with an Aesop’s Fable. This timeless classic reminds adult and child alike that the secret to success is perseverance. It's a good read for a special needs child, an overweight child, or anyone feeling like they can never accomplish their goals.

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