Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

15 Exceptional Character-Building Stories You Won't Want Your Child to Miss!

"Good books not only capture the imagination, but cultivate the conscience as well"  
-from Books That Build Character

Can reading aloud good books to your children really help develop their character? According to William Kilpatrick, one of the authors of Books That Build Character, the answer is "yes!"  

Are you uncertain about how to choose "good books"? Read my past post here.

Below I've highlighted some excellent points Kilpatrick makes about how stories can affect character development:

- Stories create an emotional attachment to goodness, or a desire to do the right thing.
- Stories provide a wealth of good examples to kids - the kind of examples that might be missing from some children's day-to-day environments.
- Stories are a good way of introducing "codes of conduct" to kids.
- Stories can help kids make sense out of life.

Books about Bravery and Duty
1. The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford.  Click on the highlighted title to read my past review of this book and others about the Iditarod Race.
2. The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen.  A quiet, yet brave young princess rescues her father from a prison tower.
3. Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie by Peter and Connie Roop. This simple but true story brings new meaning to the concept of duty. Abbie is a courageous young girl who is determined to keep her father's lighthouse lights burning while he is away on the mainland, despite the fact that a terrific storm threatens to sweep her family's little house into the sea; that her mother is in bed sick and must be kept warm; and that even the fate of their chickens is in her hands.
4. Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield by Rae Bains.  Clara's childhood biography.  She showed remarkable courage and vision as she overcame great shyness to dramatically serve her fellow man.
5. Ride on the Wind by Alice Dalgliesh.  The story of Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927.
6. Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. Beautifully illustrated Caldecott Medal book about a young girl who learns to walk on a high wire and dramatically helps a high wire veteran overcome his feat to go back on the wire

Books about Friendship
7 & 8. Betsy-Tacy; and Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace.  Originally published in 1941; set in Wisconsin around 1900. The series - based on the author's life - is set in a small town in Minnesota at the turn of the twentieth century. The first book, Betsy-Tacy, takes place with Betsy and her best friend, Tacy, being five years old. By the second book, they've added a new friend, Tib. The series follows the girls' friendships all the way through to Betsy's wedding! There is so much heartfelt humor, detail, and realistic emotion in the writing, you really get a feeling for life at the turn of the century - from school days and friendships, to falling in love and travel. Girls will have fun growing up with Betsy, Tacy, and Tib as their friends!
9. The Milly-Molly-Mandy Story Book by Joyce L. Brisley.  Originally published in 1928.  Another delightful novel, set in an English village and its surrounding countryside.

Books about Sacrificing for Others
10. Leah's Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich. Set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, this is the story of family love and the kindness of neighbors. A girl of 11 is willing to sell her beloved pony so her nearly bankrupt family will not have to lose their farm.
11. Miss Fanny's Hat by Jan Karon.  A plucky 100-year-old lady becomes willing to offer her favorite hat for her church's fund-raising auction. (3-8)

Books about Faith and Endurance
12. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  How the Ingalls family, living in a new town on the South Dakota prairie, survive a harsh seven-month winter filled with blizzards.
13. More than Anything Else by Marie Bradley.  Beautifully and poignantly told story of how Booker T. Washington learned to read at the age of 10. Click the highlighted title to read my past review.
14. The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, by Alice and Martin Provensen. A story about the first solo flight across the English Channel in 1909, and about building the plane that made the flight. (4-8)
15. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. "Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it." There never was a sweeter, more unselfish heroine than Sara Crewe, a young girl from a wealthy family who humbly and heroically endures the scorn, hatred, and jealousy of the headmistress and some of the other students at her English boarding school while her father is away in India. (8 and up)

So many more out there!  What are some of your favorite character-building stories?


  1. the hundred dresses, four and twenty, anne of green gables, the abandoned, beautiful joe

  2. Love The Hundred Dresses and Anne of Green Gables. I'm excited to look into the others you mentioned - thank you!

  3. What an awesome list! Thank you for this! :) this is a great collection of books.