books that teach manners

kids-who-love-booksMy girls love books.

They like to stack them and chew on them and look at the pictures. They like long books and short books, rhyming books and poetic books, silly books and serious books.

I bet we read 20 books or more on an average day.

Lately, my husband and I have noticed that our almost-3-year-old is like a little sponge, absorbing knowledge as fast as her little mind will allow. She asks intelligent questions. She ponders things. She memorizes books and enhances her vocabulary. She picks up on the subtle messages in text and in pictures.

For this reason, I want to be intentional about providing her with books that teach positive lessons. Nonsensical books are fun too, don't get me wrong. But books that instruct are appreciated in a different way.


martha doesn't say sorry samantha bergerMartha Doesn't Say Sorry by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Little Brown & Company, 2009)

This book ought to win a literary award. The text is captivating and so very fun to read a loud. The pictures are unbelievably adorable. The message is profound without being pushy. Martha - a rotund otter in a pink dress and matching headband - learns that it is important to say "I'm sorry" when she does something that is..."not so nice." My almost-three-year often chooses this book and asks us to read it to her again and again. I, for one, am glad. It is superbly illustrated and written with care - and I am positive that my daughter is taking the message to heart. If you buy only one new book this year for a 1-5 year old in your life, this should be it.

digby takes charge by caroline jayne churchDigby Takes Charge by Caroline Jayne Church (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007)

Digby, a talented sheepdog, is brought to a farm to herd six sheep into a pen. "Easy-peasy!" he thinks. But the job turns out to be harder than expected. Those stubborn sheep will not be moved, despite Digby's hair-brained and ridiculous attempts. He tries growling, shouting, driving a tractor and a tank, and flying a helicopter. In the end, however, only one thing will work. The sheep cooperate immediately when Digby uses the "magic word"...please.

My one hesitation with this book is that the word "please" is only described as a "way to get what we want." I would have appreciated the tale more if the emphasis had been on courtesy, respect, and making others feel valued rather than on selfish motivations. That said, my daughter does enjoy reading it and laughs at the dog's crazy antics throughout the text.

the sneetches and other stories by dr. seussThe Sneetches And Other Stories by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1961)

This hardcover treasure features four stories. The Sneetches teaches tolerance - and emphasizes the fact that outward appearances are overrated. The Zax shares the importance of compromise. Too Many Daves is a short tale about individuality. What Was I Scared Of? talks about standing up to your fears (and perhaps realizing that your fears may be unwarranted). All of the rhyming tales are ridiculous and over-exaggerated, yet they still manage to be instructive in the midst of all of the silliness.

oh the places you'll go by Dr. SeussOh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1990)

Oh, the Places You'll Go is a classic Seuss story that is sure to give kids confidence to pursue their dreams. Although a bit on the longish side for preschoolers, the book has a fabulous message about choosing your destiny, picking yourself up after being derailed by obstacles, and finding success through entrepreneurship and innovation. Told in spectacular Seuss fashion, the book includes zany illustrations, made-up words, and kooky text. And will you enjoy it? "Yes! You will, indeed! (98 3/4 percent guaranteed!)"

manners always matter setManners Always Matter book set (Publications International, 2005)

The Manners Always Matter book set features 10 miniature paperbacks: Let's Be Friends, Be Patient, Let's Share, Play Nice, I'm Sorry, Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, May I Help?, and Be Honest. The thin, tiny booklets all feature the same characters: Puppy, Hippo, Kitty, Mouse, and Mrs. Hen. The books are lacking creativity and are rather boring, but - surprisingly - my daughter really likes them. I think the "morals" are obnoxiously obvious - "As Hippo learned, being honest always works out for the best." But my daughter doesn't seem to mind. And, I am 98% sure she know says, "May I...?" when she asks questions as a direct result of these books. I am not complaining at all about that.

YOUR TURN: Do you use books to teach manners and morals?

WIN IT! One winner will receive a copy of Digby Takes Charge ($14.99), The Sneetches And Other Stories ($14.95), Oh, the Places You'll Go ($17.99), and Manners Always Matter set ($10.99). To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Monday, September 7th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

*UPDATE* The winner is #90 jessica c. Congratulations!

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130 comments on “books that teach manners”

  1. I just bought my little granddaughter a book called "The True Princess". Her father, the King, has to go away, and puts her in the care of Nana who takes her out of the palace. The Princess learns practical things, like dressing herself, laughing at herself, baking, working, singing to herself. When father comes back he recognizes the true princess in the midst of a crowd of cocky pretender princesses.

  2. I also love books that are educational while still being fun. Reading is a big part of our family time. Thanks so much.

  3. I would love to teach manners and morals by books. Reading bye bye pacifier helped my son get rid of his paci. So I would love to win these for him! Thank you!

  4. I enjoyed your post - and I totally agree that books are a great way to reinforce good manners and behaviors. I love books like the Berenstein Bears books for that reason. Thanks for the chance!

  5. I have been reading to my granddaughter since she was born. She is now almost five and just entered
    kindergarden and is eager to learn. I am fortunate enough to see her every day, so we read every evening. I always try to buy her books with lessons even though she doesn't always realise it. These books would be a wonderful addition to
    our book shelf! Thank You. :)

  6. We read to our 5 year old daughter every night. I particularly love the books that have a message about manners, being kind to others, or any kind of lesson. Not only is she learning how to read, she is learning something of value that she can do in the real world.

  7. I think every household with children needs to have these books. You can't teach your children "too much" manners. I think one of the problems with kids today is that parents don't bother teaching ANY manners!
    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  8. yes, definitely choose books for teaching children manners, but the books have to be well done and fun, or else it can be overkill..
    your suggestions are great, hadn't heard of the first 2 books..

  9. we checked out Polite as a Princess (stars disney princesses) and my youngest keeps quoting the book. "Princesses never chew with food in their mouth" "Princesses cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing"
    I checked it out because it had disney princesses and not for the manners but it is working

  10. I do use books to teach manners. I bought the 'i'm a good kid' set but didnt care for it. It was more of I tell a story of the moral, i could do that without the books. I love the Martha doesnt say sorry review, i am off to look that one up. My 3 year old needs to hear that one alot. LOL!!

  11. We do have one Sesame Street book about manners but it seems a little out-dated. Recently my 3 year old and I made a list of "things that are rude". She could think of a lot! :)

  12. We try to use books to teach morals in our house. It helps with my daughter. My son is only one, so he don't really understand yet, but we still read them to him.

  13. I have never thought to use books to teach manners, but that is because I just don't know what's out there. I really liked your summary of the Martha Doesn't Say Sorry book. I may go order that today.

  14. I haven't specifically chosen a book for its moral/manner lessons, but I LOVE books that do teach such a lesson. Right now we're enjoying a few from ZonderKids - like The Princess Twins and the Birthday Party, which illustrates that inner beauty is more important than outward beauty...

    janemaritz at yahoo dot com

  15. We mostly use example to teach manners, but books are a fun way to reinforce the lessons. Thanks for the great giveaway.

  16. I don't use books as a rule to teach manners, but if we happen across neat ones, like the Mercer Mayer books, then we definatly use them.

  17. Absolutely I use books to teach manners too. I also like to include several religious books too. I love that my little ones can identify Jesus, already know how to say several prayers, etc. I think books reinforce it too. I try to expose them to as much religious stuff as I can and they love it. Books are great teaching tools.

  18. I hope to use books to teach manners. My family isn't so up on manners and courtesy, so our kids will need all the help they can get! lol

  19. I love reading to my children. They love listening to me read. I love how books in themselves are such good ways for children to learn. But you often have to wonder what they are learning. My 4 year old has the "How do Dinosaurs say Goodnight" book. I have to say that when I tell him it's time for bed he does everything in the book. UGH! Children are like sponges, so I try to read books that will teach them good lessons, ways to behave, ways to get rewarded and how to be good people. Sadly, there aren't too many books out there like that, without costing you a fortune.

  20. I teach kindergarten. I use tons of books to teach values..sadly many of my students don't get this at home.


  21. So far we haven't read too many books that teach morals, but they've definitely come in handy for other lessons. When it was time for my daughter to give up her pacifier, we read a bunch of books about that and they really worked in encouraging her. We did the same for potty training and those Big Kids were a good inspiration around here.

  22. Dr. Seuss books aren't only fun for kids to hear but they're fun for parents to read out loud. Some of them can be real tongue twisters though.

  23. I think children learn a lot from things like TV, games and books so it's definitely good to make sure the things they watch or read will teach good lessons.

  24. Wow, I haven't heard a child say "May I?" since my sixth grade class when Mr. Bearenclaw demanded it of us. I always liked that teacher...

    Thank you for the giveaway.

  25. We haven't really started teaching manners yet -- well, just last week I started with "please" (which comes out "peeeee"), but I'm sure we will, and I really appreciate the suggestions! It's kind of frightening and exciting when you realize that they're actually listening and absorbing, isn't it?

  26. Yes we do! both of my kiddos are adopted and we have been talking about the right way to answer questions- are they real brother and sister- you betcha! They have the same parents. IS that your real mom- you bet=)

  27. My daughter is only 20 months and most of her books are learning objects, colors, numbers, but still teaching manners and morals is important and recently we have been reading more books like this. She really enjoys the "sticky anteater" which is teaching not everyone is the same and we need to except people for who they are. I dont think she gets it yet, but im sure something is getting through.

  28. I have 5 Grandchildren, ages 6m to 8yrs..
    I love bringing them books. We have to cuddle up and read as soon as give them a new book.
    I believe that nobody can have too many books.
    Thank you for the contest.

  29. We have the Manners Always Matter set already, but I have yet to find any other books that teach manners. Maybe they have a section at the library just for manners books, I'll have to see. I'm going to check out your suggestions, thanks!

  30. Oh the Places you will Go! That is the BEST book out there. That is what I will give all children when they graduate, I read it to my kids... I love it!

    It teaches you to continue on. To have faith that no matter what happens, you have a path... a way that you can follow, even when things get rocky. it's a positive outlook, and when children have that.. everything else is easy.

  31. My little guy loves dogs so hopefully the Digby book will teach him about the power of "please." Thanks for the giveaway.

  32. We really enjoy Dr. Seuss here at our house. My husband and I were just talking about teaching/learning books last night...I remember when my sisters and I were growing up that we had a book called "Never Talk to Strangers" - and it's something that I really wish that we had a copy of now for our daughter (there are plans to look for it on Amazon). I think that it's a great example of a manners book.

  33. Manners; we have checked some out at the library and own a few. My kids are very good about please, thank you, excuse, etc. It's just part of our vocabulary in this family. Morals; we have a few that teach about morals but not a lot. It's definitely something I want to get more of that are Catholic based.

  34. We read a ton! Both the girls see to really enjoy it. Many of the books we do read, or have read, do teach manners. We try and make sure the books we read for the girls are positive in that they will portray good characteristics in their lives.

  35. I've used several books to teach manners and morals in my classroom. Some of my favorites are Jamaica Tag Along and Stone Soup.

  36. We like the Sneetches sooo much and the book, "How do Dinosaurs Play with their Friends". I like the idea of teaching good values through the books we read together! Good for you on reading 20 a day- That is awesome!!!
    [email protected]

  37. Some other great books that teach valuable lessons are the Serendipity series. I collected them as a child and hope to share them with my children someday. The drawings are just adorable.

  38. THese books are great for teaching children. Kids are like sponges and remember what they see. It is nice to see Dr Suess in the set. Dr Suess has been such an important author for children throughout decades.

  39. We use books to teach manners and the Berenstain bears are a big help. These are great books. I also like the Little Critter books.

  40. Dr. Seuss books are such classics that I love and I know my boys would love. I also am all about having good manners, so this is such an awesome collection of books that are fun while teaching a great lesson!

  41. We have been checking out a lot of these kind of books from the library lately,. especially trying to get my younger one ready for school. We have also like the Loukoumi books, as well as some of the ones on your giveaway. I think we would read these over and over if we won them.

  42. The all-time greatest morality tale -- for children and adults -- is The Giving Tree. Thanks so much for the opportunity to win such great books.

  43. What a great assortment of books! These would be for my nephew,Jo-jo. He is an only child for now. He is spoiled and can't seem to get along with other kids,sometimes he's a bully. He needs to learn manners. Thanks!

  44. The Sneetches has to be my all time favorite story. I read that to my boys several times a week. Society is built upon manners and my boys are learning to be little gentlemen

  45. My husband was just reading to my son the other night and when he was finished he said, "We need some new books." We do. We used to visit the library once a week but with the move we've been so busy. So our current collection of owned books is getting a little old. For us. Not for our son, of course. Thanks for the recommendations!

  46. Teaching children about manners and other important morals can be much easier through the use of a book. I teach a special education class and I use books like these to teach them about manners and other important values as well as body cleanliness. I would love to have these books for my classroom! thanks!

  47. Children with manners are a pleasure to be around, a "shame" to the parents with ill mannered children that aren't reprimanded.

  48. wow! 20 books each day??? We homeschool and use literature based curriculum and don't read that many! I'm very impressed! I love books that have a moral! Have you ever seen the Serendipity series?

  49. I have sometimes used books to teach manners. There's one very simple tub book called Polite as a Princess, and Sarina took to it from early on. So now I often tell her when she's not being "polite as a princess," and then she remembers to use her manners better. ;)

  50. We LOVE books in our home! Both my kids love "reading" books and having books read to them! I love that these books support good manners, so important yet kind of missing a lot these days! Wow I sound so old fashioned, but I think good manners are timeless and never go out of style!!! thank you!

  51. I don't think I've intentionally used books to teach manners but we do discuss characters actions after reading. It's interesting to see what my kids think of the stories after we read together.

  52. These all look great, but Oh the Places You'll Go is a favorite in our family that we don't actually have. Thanks for sharing!

  53. I have found that I really like the Max Lucado books for children since they teach great lessons in them. My favorite one is the crippled lamb (but it is a christmas story). There are others that apply to any time that teach about including people, not making fun of others, etc.

  54. We could definitely use the manners books in our house! My 3 yr. old had such nice manners for the longest time but is starting to let them slip by the wayside as he is beginning to assert his independence. Maybe reading books about manners would be more effective than the fighting...

  55. This post really has made up my mind about needing more manners books. We too read a ton of books a day, my son loves books. And I am so glad we started reading books to him when he was in my belly because I want him to love reading so much! But we only have 1 book about manners and I really think we need a few more. I love adding books to our library!! Thanks for the recommendations.

  56. I never look for anything specific as far as teaching manners and morals, but find that the best books teach these things without the child knowing they're being "taught".

  57. These look like wonderful books! My kids love books and we go to the library every other week. I have not read any of these books, they look great!!

  58. My mom is a big reader and she always read to me as a child. I think this is a big reason why I'm such a voracious reader today. I am admittedly not very familiar with children's books, but as I am expecting my first baby in March, this will change soon. I plan to spend lots! of time reading to my children. Thanks for providing the first recommendation.

  59. We too love books! We read all throughout the day. My daughter has lots of them memorized and will fill in the story. We will leave words out sometimes, but she always catches us! We work throughout each day to teach both of our kids manners. It can be quite trying at times, and hard to see if it is working in our home, but as soon as we go in public or to someone's house, it is so encouraging to see them be polite and use good manners. We have a Sesame Street book that she loves that is all about manners. Even Cookie Monster has to say please in order to have a cookie! She learned how to shake hands and say, "It is nice to meet you!" from that book!

  60. What a great selection to offer. These would be great books for Olivia and I to enjoy. Manners are so important and I try as much as I can to teach her. She's super good abotu pleases and thank yous! But sometimes gets so excited she forgets! Thank you for the opportunity to add to our collection some fun books and helpful manner reminders, can never have to many of those!

  61. I think book that teach lessons are so important. Since Lily is only 8 months old we are not too worried about manners yet but colors, shapes and animals are high on my list.

  62. Yes. I can't remember the name of one story, it was in a very old book of my mother's that had many stories in it. It was about a little girl who wanted a special cake for her birthday that she saw at the bakery. She wouldn't let anyone tell her why she couldn't have that cake, she'd just throw a tantrum, scream, yell, and cry. Finally everyone gave into her. She went to the bakery and they bought her the cake she saw in the window. Now it's her birthday party and friends are all gathered around. She's in her party dress, happy and smiling. It finally comes time to cut the cake. Try as she might it won't cut. It was just a window showcake, actually made out of colored cements. Everyone started laughing at her. Her feelings are hurt. Her papa and mama tell her that they tried to tell her, but she was so naughty and wouldn't let them. She vowed never to not listen to her parents when they tried to tell her something again. This did make an impact on a strong willed little boy in my life. He actually listened and got something out of the story. I think they can help you sometimes get through to your children when you've already tried and they have their minds set against listening.

  63. I love teaching through literature. I am featuring the book Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
    by Eileen Spinelli. It shows how a little bit of caring changes someone's life.

    Please come check it out.

  64. I think most books we have for our kids have some sort of moral/manner lesson attached to them unless they are straight reader-story books.

  65. I'm constantly surprised by how much my 8-month old loves her board books- she squeals at each page, and listens to me read it, then she turns the pages for me. One at a time! The desire of my heart is that she will love reading as much as I do.

  66. My son loves to read - he almost has as many books as I do! Most of his books were actually mine from growing up and it brings back such great memories to read them to him!


  67. Hey Stephanie,
    I must tell you that you have inspired/motivated me to get more books into our childrens' lives. I cannot believe how just since a posting you a had a few weeks ago regarding this topic made me stop and think about how much we read to our kiddos and now by adding more books to our daily routine it has made a world of difference. I have been checking out 15 books every few days regularly from the library. Thanks for the inspiration!!!
    Also, I have to say that we have a set of Karen Katz books on sharing and manners that I love. Thanks for your suggestions or more great ones as well.
    If I don't win I hope to find these at a library or secondhand store. :0)

  68. We love reading too, and I greatly appreciate books that are well thought out and teach valuable lessons in a smart & gentle way. Little ones are so intelligent and do pick up on even subtle lessons in books, so I do tend to be a little picky about what we read. Thanks for the great recommendations!

  69. I try desperately to teach my children manners. Sometimes it sticks. I love the way Dr. Seuss books teach life lessons while being fun. I'd love to have my three children memorize these books!

  70. When I was a little girl my grandfather would quote a poem,

    by Gillette Burgess

    The Goops they lick their fingers
    And the Goops they lick their knives:
    They spill their broth on the tablecloth
    Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
    The Goops they talk while eating,
    And loud and fast they chew;
    And that is why I'm glad that I
    Am not a Goop, are you?

    A few years ago, long after my grandfather died, I was able to find a small paperback book with more Goop poems in them and I read them to my children. Then I gave the books to my grandmother, but I don't know what happened to them when she died.

    Another book we really liked was, "If everybody did," published by Bob Jones University.

    (I don't want to win this give away)

    p.s. Stephanie, I started a long email to you last week and I am trying to get it done. One of these days, I will. ;)

  71. I lave given a copy of "Oh the Places You'll Go" to all of my kids when they graduated from high school and I intend on continuing the practice with my grandkids.

  72. My kids love books and I think using books to help teach manners is a great idea.Reading and talking about the books that are read is always a learning experience.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  73. I have a 4 yr. old and a 6 yr. old. All of these would be very appropriate for my girls! Manners are so important. Thanks for the opportunity to win and put these in my mommy arsenal!

  74. My three kids are dying for new books. I have to keep reading the same stories over and over again. They all have good manners, but books like these help to reinforce why they are important.

  75. We used books more with our older 2 children. It is a great idea and reinforcement to what is already being taught at home. Please continue to do so with your children. I will be more diligent with my youngest!

  76. I would say that we're the ones who teach manners and morals to our children, but we certainly use books to back up our teaching. Somehow it always means more when someone other than "just" Mom and Dad say something. :)

  77. We love books (even if they get eaten or torn still by little hands) and are always looking for new ones to read. These sound like great ideas!

  78. My three children LOVE books! When it's reading time they all race to the book box to find a few new and of course one or two of their trusted favorites. Thanks for suggesting some possible new favorites ;)

  79. I think books are definitely a great way to teach manners, as they model good behavior ad open up lines of conversation. Even for older kids they work well, I think.

  80. We definitely use books to teach manners! I find that authors of children's books find great ways to share and teach little ones. They use easy to understand language with engaging characters and of course intriguing illustrations. These books would be wonderful to add to any child's library.

  81. My daughter loves to read and what better way to make sure she learns manners and morals than incorporating books into our lesson!

  82. We read to our two-year old daily as well. At least 4 books here, two at nap and two before bedtime. Dr. Seuss books are what we have been reading lately. My mother-in-law gave us quite a few hand-me -downs.

  83. My little guys could use some books on manners! I don't know if it's just boyishness, or if I'm not vigilant enough about it, but they can be quite rude to each other. Only to each other. To everyone else, they're angels.

  84. I received a copy of _Oh the Places You'll Go_ when I graduated from high school. I'm such a huge fan of Dr. Seuss, and so is our son. I agree with you on the quality life lessons that kids soak up like crazy when they're little.

  85. i too like to choose books that have some sort of valuable lesson attached to them among the fun and silly books. i like to be careful though about how they teach the lesson. sometimes i find some books end up giving my older kid "ideas" of what not to do.
    We have this one book "How do Dinosaur's Say Goodnight?". It's really sweet illustrations, great way to learn the different kinds of dinosaurs but it goes on and on asking if they stomp their feet or yell or fall on the floor and flail their arms etc. It's only at the very end does it say "NO, they say yes mom, turn off the light and say goodnight". sometimes i wonder if my son has picked up on these not so good ways of going to bed.
    But then again he IS 4.

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