After sharing book resources for building character in girls, there was a huge number of requests for a similar list for boys. This is a short list for the younger boy, just barely scratching the surface, so I will do it in several parts.
Truly great character-building books are a large part of forming how young children think about their world, their purpose here, and how they relate to others.
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Elizabeth Wilson, author of Books Children Love writes, “A book must readily catch and hold the reader’s interest. Then, it should do some or all of the following: provide a “magic carpet” to transport the child to faraway places; offer fascinating insights into lives different from his own; give sheer joy or wholesome entertainment; increase understanding of that which is true and real; incorporate significant ideas or issues in a natural or credible manner; stimulate imagination or creativity; encourage logical thought, curiosity, and questions; provide clear and accurate information on a specific subject.”
But even as important academically as all that is, the moral, ethical, and often spiritual impact, conveyed by books cannot be overlooked. When a child identifies with either a real or a fictional character in a book who demonstrates with courage or faith or honesty or determination or kindness or any one of the qualities so important to nurture in a child’s character, all those values are reinforced in the child’s consciousness.
When the harmful effects of dishonesty, unkindness, carelessness, hypocrisy, and other wrong behavior are observed in the course of a story or in a nation’s history, the truth is learned with lasting effectiveness.
One site sells “Great Christian Books Boys Will Read.” After a quick scan, I must say that this is NOT what I am speaking of! Let us instead offer rich meat and not such trashy and pointless junk to our boys. Books like these will certainly develop their taste for aimless self-pleasure and undermine their resolve to live a powerful life that makes a difference while it glorifies God.
Early Book Resources I Recommend:
I can’t overstate how much these books were beloved by our children. While they may look pretty boring or tame to you, they were not dull or boring, but captured the imagination while also forming their sense of right and wrong…a marvelous combination.
The book resources that follow will instill virtues in young boys (or girls, for that matter) such as self-control, honesty, faithfulness, purity, courage, persistence, dependability, and compassion.
If you have ever doubted that God takes a hand directly in the lives of children read Uncle Arthur Maxwell. His stories have the power to rivet children to the spot. They know he is talking about them. Each story is an entire moral or Biblical lesson but NOT boring in the least. Even our kids at 12 and 13 loved these stories!
Once we were able to capture our children’s imagination with a great short bedtime story (or 2 or 3), I found that they were putty in our hands in the bedtime department. Reading with them made them eager to start clean-up and bath time for bed followed by reading and prayer. Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories are still some of our favorites to make us all nostalgic for those sweet childhood days! We found all 20 volumes years ago in perfect shape at a thrift shop for $50!
Looking on Amazon, I found nine of these volumes 9-12 for $9.17 and several volumes 5-8 for $4.00. I encourage you to use these book resources as motivation and encouragement for the children to grow in obedience and a cheerful, willing spirit. Don’t use reading before bed as a bribe, but as a carrot!
One of our earliest to read for teaching character was the Miller Family series. These are among my top picks for younger children, from the littlest who you hold on your lap to age 12-ish. They were a pleasure to read and brought both laughter and enduring insights.
<—Although we are not Amish, our children have said these books will be read with their little ones someday – they are a tool to reinforce discussions that we aren’t sure how to approach with our children. So well written, they grab your heart. They speak to your heart as well as to your head.
Rather than having the children read them by themselves, this series is perfect for reading aloud and the rousing discussion afterwards. It will leave them thinking. Rich in meaning, these truly character-building stories should be chewed on for a while, not swallowed whole!
Some books are to be tasted; others to be swallowed; and some few to be chewed and digested.~Sir Francis Bacon
Adventure Reading For Younger Boys
Ralph Moody was eight years old in 1906 when his family moved from New Hampshire to a Colorado ranch. Through his eyes we experience the pleasures and perils of ranching there early in the twentieth century. You will read about auctions and roundups, family picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and windstorms give authentic flavor to Little Britches[book 1]. The adventures, wonderfully told, equip Ralph to take his father’s place when it becomes necessary.
We read Bears Of Blue River aloud when our children were around ten. Although, they were all good readers, this was a book we wanted to ‘process’ aloud as we read it. There is a scary part when the ‘Fire Bear’ appears to be glowing and even supernatural. The details from Major’s story were true and touched on natural science. ‘Fire bears’ became bio-luminescent with phosphorous making their beds in foxfire from decaying wood of old tree stumps.
Don’t be deterred; this is wholesome adventure at its finest, and your boys will LOVE it!
For the pre-reading child (ages 3-6) ready to learn more about God, here is a simple way to explain complex beliefs. Ours liked to hear these stories read over again and they would ask questions. Teach Me About God covers Salvation, Prayer, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
Loving One Another ( ages 4-7) contains eight animal stories based on scripture that will help littles to discover why getting along and loving your neighbor is the very best way.
Short Stories For Younger Boys (Which They Will Read to the End)
“Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.” ~ Charlotte Mason
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~Philippians 4: 8
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