Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 5: Books and media that inspire virtue

Welcome to the final day of the 5 Days of Virtue Training series! If you didn't catch the earlier posts here they are:

Day 1: Speaking the Language of Virtues

Day 2: How we teach Virtues

Day 3: Training to be a Virtuous Mother

Day 4: Virtue based activities 

I was going to focus today's blog post on specific children's books that demonstrate virtue.  I had a nice little list ready to post and then I changed my mind.

When I really thought about it, there are virtues to be found in almost every story.  The key point that I had mentioned before is that you need to be able to identify them by name.  This way when reading a story to your child you can mention specific things like "Did you notice how perseverant Laura was when she surprised Ma by doing the spring cleaning?"  This is an excellent way for children to learn the names of virtues as well as examples of what they mean.

There are certain books which are filled with children and adults demonstrating their virtues.  One of our favorite series is the Little House series.  Our family listens to them on audiobook and everyone including the 3 year old gets into the stories.  One of many things I love about the series is that the children are so obedient and excited to please their parents.  I really appreciate children's literature where the children speak so nicely to their parents and where parents talk so nicely to each other.  Books like that are not always easy to find.

This brings me to my next point.

Just as important as introducing virtue filled literature to your children is, it is equally important to filter out the junk books and media.  In our home we do not let our children read any "cool" books where kids think their parents are lame or where they are allowed to talk bad about their family. We are also selective on what movies our children can watch.  How can we instill virtues such as "gentleness" when our children are glued to the TV watching people beat each other up?  How can we encourage our children to be "content" when product ads are rampant between every segment of television?

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

I challenge mothers as well to be selective in what we choose to view ourselves!  My husband always jokes that when I lose my patience I should watch re-runs of The Duggars because every time I get to watch Michelle Duggar in action I tend to mimic her gentle demeanor. It is so funny but watching her interact with her children helps me interact with my own.  I come from a family that yelled for everything...this, I know, is not the way I want my own family to act.  I use shows like the Duggars and Little House on the Prairie to give me examples of virtuous behavior.  Behavior I want, but have not grown up with.

The Bible is a wonderful resource we have to teach our children (and ourselves) about virtues in stories.  The Catholic Toolbox has a great list of Bible stories organized by virtues.

Do you have a favorite book for your children that does a great job of teaching virtues?  Leave your answer in the comment section, I'd love some new book recommendations!



  1. The Princess and the Kiss!
    great book on the virtue of modesty.

  2. They are out of print, but if you can find them, The Buddy Books are great. Some of the titles are Buddy on the Farm, Buddy in School, Buddy and His Winter Fun and Buddy at Rainbow Lake. We also like The Boxcar Children and The Happy Hollisters.

  3. love this blog! michelle duggar has been a huge inspiration to me too and i do the same thing! (watch re-runs when i need reminders and reread parts of their books)

  4. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer