Modern society, in many parts of the world, has lost and forgotten the old stories. The crucial life lessons taught by our ancestors have been replaced by modern media which is rarely grounded in anything of lasting value. Aesop’s Fables, the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, were once a stable of childhood in western civilization. The varied stories of coyote, and the lessons they taught are lost to many Native Americans who’s ancestors routinely shared these stories and others while teaching important lessons to their children.
The Book of Virtues does a fairly good job of reviving some of these stores; but there are many more. Whether you believe the earth to be six thousand years old or millions of years old, it is hard to believe that all the sudden we are too smart for the wisdom of the ages. History isn’t just dates and events, it’s stories of people, struggles, and triumphs through difficult and even horrendous situations. Yes, a part of that struggle includes some horrible things; but there is much to learn from those who have lived and gone before us.
Share traditional stories with your children from yours and other cultures. Read history from the words of those who lived it. History is often spun almost as quickly as it takes place and continues to be spun for the benefit of whoever is telling it. For this reason, read the word of the people who lived it. I would recommend to everyone books like Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington, and The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves. These and many other have an incredible wealth of information, rich with opportunities for discussion. Read and discuss with your children, asking their opinion about the moral of the story. Who knows, you may gain some insight from your children that you yourself had overlooked or never thought of. Share your opinion with your children; but don’t discount theirs. Encourage their thoughts and contributions.
Moral stories teach the basic concepts of not only right and wrong; but how to handle difficult situations. These stores are usually as pertinent today as they were when first told. How different would our world be if all of our leaders, and we, knew, really understood, and lived the lessons from: The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Lion and the Mouse, The Mischievous Dog, The Frogs and the Well, and The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. How different would our own lives be if we understood and lived the lessons of Booker T. Washington?
For younger children you may even want to not only tell the story but help them safely act some of them out in a little home play. One fun idea might be to tell a story and then let the children take the lead in putting together costumes, props and presenting the play to the family.
Some of the old stories are pretty grim so to speak; however, they teach really important lessons. For example the original story of the boy who cried wolf had the boy eaten by the wolf in the end. Sometimes it's important for people to learn that there are real consequences for some of our actions. Things don't always turn out ok when we do really stupid things.
For older children and teens there are many classics which teach important lessons and enrich lives. Stories such as Moby Dick and Little Women just to name a couple.
Please use the comments section to let us know about your favorite classic literature for children and teens.
One of our family traditions as our children were growing up was reading scriptures together every weekday morning. It helped our children excel in reading and brought one child from being behind in school to being an almost straight A student. In addition, it allowed for discussion about morality. I’ve heard many times the old and false adage that religious families don’t discuss sex with their children. It would be difficult for anyone to read and honestly and openly discuss the Old Testament, Torah, or Koran without discussing sex and morality. This is also true about many Buddhist writings and I would assume the writings of most if not all religions.
We also read and discussed stories from the Book of Virtues, Aesop’s Fables, and other books from history including our own family stories.
While there is some disagreement in the research, it is clear that moral stories with discussion and modeling of moral behavior have a huge positive impact on children. Forget the old saying “do what I say, not what I do.” Example may not be everything; but it is more than most parents imagine.
To search for traditional moral stories, type into the Google Parenting search engine below: Traditional Moral Stories. If you are interested in a specific country, culture, continent, or language, just add those to the end.
In either the Google Scholar or Google Parenting search engines below you might also search for: Effect Moral Stories Children; Efficacy Moral Stories Children; Efficacy Moral Modeling Children.
Some of the stories are more appropriate for older children and some are very appropriate for readers of any age.