I hope that the title of my blog doesn’t confuse you. It would make sense for me to talk about building characters (as in fictional writing), but the character I’m talking about today has to do with the character traits we are trying to instill in our children. …but I am going to talk about books, also. Two sets of them, in fact. Here is the first.
My aunt is a teacher, and in her pursuit of doing some classroom purging (she’s retiring soon) she gifted me an entire set of books on good character. Help Me Be Good by Joy Berry. If you click on her name here, it will take you to her Amazon author page. Her bio is very interesting, and lets you in on how she came to start the series in the first place.
I’ve had these books tucked into a shelf for months, until just recently. I started noticing my eldest pulling one out every once in a while, and taking it somewhere private to read. So, I thought to myself, I should really pull these out where all the kids can see them. Most of the time I don’t feel good enough to read because of my morning sickness (somehow speaking out loud makes it worse), but I figured if they brought them to me, I’d put in the effort. So I put them out and waited. My 6 year old helped me set them up (she’s my organizer, and wanted to make sure they were color coded).
The kids did, indeed, notice them… and have asked me to read several every day since then (it’s been maybe a week). I usually stop reading after three books, because I figure they need a little time to let each lesson sink in a bit (that, and it’s about all my poor tummy can take). They are very happy to talk about the character traits being discussed, and are especially taken with the thought bubbles of the little animals in the story (go figure). They like these books so much that if I start reading to one child, and any of the other ones hear me, all four are quickly crowded around me on the couch so they can listen in. Pretty cool!
The second series on character, I obtained from a friend who had several extra sets to pass out.
It is a series called, God I Want To Talk To You About… by Susan K. Leigh and Dan Carr. I have not put these in a place for the kids to find yet. I’m waiting until we finish the first set.
Most of these two series double up on topics, but their are two main differences that I can tell in them so far. The Help Me Be Good series is not Christian, or at least it’s not written from a Christian perspective. I don’t mind this so much, though, because it’s also not written from a performance based perspective either. The reasons behind being good in these books is all about responsibility and the consequences of bad behavior when done among your parents or peers. When it talks about punishment, I find myself inserting the word “discipline” in there instead (because I feel there is a difference) and in the book about keeping your promises, I had a talk with them afterwards about what the Bible has to say about making promises in the first place. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no… basically don’t make promises, just abide by your words. Other than those small issues (and I may even be nitpicking), I think these books are great!
The second set of books is Christian, as can be seen from the titles (God I Need to Talk to You about Lying, Whining, etc…), and seems to come from a much more emotional slant. Our bad behavior hurts others and is offensive to Christ. It calls for apologies and forgiveness and supplies a few verses in the corners of the pages for some further discussion or introspection. I’m not sure what the kids will think of these. My guess is that they will like them as well, and my hope is that having two different perspectives on a subject will be very helpful. We will be able to talk about the physical consequences as well as the spiritual importance of the sin in the first place.
Once we have gotten through both series, my plan is to use them in our discipline when the kids are in need of some. If they fight over something, we’ll handle discipline and then I will pull out the books on selfishness. If they complain, then we’ll go over the books on whining, giving them a chance to put their hearts right and become repentant over their actions. Only God can make us truly repentant, but I’ll do my best to point them in the right direction, and will be using the verses from the Christian series as a jumping board to discuss the sin at hand.
I have several other character curriculums that I hope to implement during the school year, but I’ll post those another time. The books I discussed today are certainly not necessary for training up my children in they way they should go. Our Bibles are perfectly adequate for that. But they are helpful, and I’d recommend them as a spring board for some good conversation. From my 3 year old to my 10 year old… they all bring them to me to read, so I’m going to take advantage of a blessing of a situation.
Are there any books on character that you’ve used over the years with your children? Any you grew up with yourself? Tell me about it. I’m always up for another good book or series.