Storytelling Virtues

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How do we teach our children virtues? One of the best ways to communicate and help develop moral character in our children is through the power of storytelling.

As Luke shared yesterday, learning through lectures isn't always the most engaging or effective method. It's also hard to instill virtue in children just by telling them directly what's right and what's wrong. But through stories they can see the results of poor moral choices, as well as good ones, without a lecture or without a parent having to chide them.

There are many reasons Sonlight offers a literature-rich educational experience. Personally, I appreciate how storytelling is central to what our curriculum offers and believe it helps encourage virtues in children.

One example of this is found in the C.S. Lewis book we offer called The Horse and His Boy. Although it's part of the famed seven-volume Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy functions quite well as a self-contained story. In it we encounter a young boy named Shasta who finds himself on an unexpected adventure. One of the virtues Shasta develops is courage, while he also exemplifies a good dose of humility.*

The Bible, too, uses storytelling in order to communicate doctrinal and moral truths. Jesus, for instance, often told parables in order to get his point across. He knew that people were far more likely to remember the stories of the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son, for example, than any "lecture" he might give on ethics.

What do you think of the ability of stories to communicate virtues? Do you have a favorite Sonlight book that serves as a good example of virtue in storytelling? We'd love to hear from you!

Robert Velarde

*To learn more about virtues in the Narnia series see my book The Golden Rules of Narnia, previously published as The Lion, the Witch, and the Bible and The Heart of Narnia.

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  1. My daughter is in 3rd grade, using Core D. I love the themes of courage and bravery found in Tolliver's Secret and The Courage of Sarah Noble. My daughter tends to be rather bashful and lacks courage to try new things. These books gave her examples of girls her age that found the courage to do hard things that were required of them.

  2. LP

    One of my all time favorites is one of the first Sonlight books we read, The Hundred Dresses. Bullying takes on so many forms, exclusion being one of the hardest to bear. This book did a wonderful job of addressing this ever growing problem in a way that definitely did not need a "lecture".

  3. One of the books that helped teach character in our family was Little Britches. We still quote the book. "No sneaky partners." "Obey the spirit of the law not the letter of the law..." So good! Also Call it Courage was a good one to help teach our kids to overcome their fears and do hard things.

  4. I completely agree. In fact, I believe that storytelling is one of the most effective, if not THE most effective, methods of teaching the virtues to children. In fact, I believe it so firmly that I've begun to write my own children's series in an attempt to do just that. And now, I suppose I'm shamelessly plugging it! The Rookery is about a little girl who stumbles into the forest one day to discover that the animals can (of course) talk. She has several adventures with them, learning values like obedience, courage, and friendship in the process. I'm posting the book a chapter a week at Shameless Plugging Over.