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5 Character-Building Stories all Families should Read

We're happy to admit that the struggle is real....we can't get enough good books on our shelves! Here are some of our very favorites that you'll be delighted to add to your own family library.“Don’t be a Halfway Herbert!” my six-year-old called after me as I hurried down the hall.

He said it giggling, but it was the reminder I needed to finish my task with excellence, rather than quitting before everything was put away.

The mom next to me raised an eyebrow in confusion, and I realized not everyone knows about some of our favorite picture books!!

I’m a book lover.

I actually have a problem.

Some women buy too many shoes. Others have an obsession with purses. Mine? Shelves and boxes and piles of books. I’m doing my best to turn my kids into bibliophiles, too, but not all of them are following in my footsteps – yet. However, whether we’re all book lovers or not, we all learn from stories.

Today I’m sharing 5 books you might not know about that all families should read. Most of these books are geared toward preschool and early elementary kids, but most of them don’t have an age limit. As an adult, even I am impacted by the message in each.

Though these books cover different topics, one thing they all have in common is that they come up frequently in our conversations – even months after being read – because we’ve learned something from them, and they continue to teach us in our day to day lives!

Halfway Herbert 

Herbert Hallweg was seven-and-a-half years old, thee-and-a-half fee tall, and fifty-five-and-a-half pounds heavy, and Herbert was a boy who never finished anything. Everything he did, he always did half way. But when Herbert tells a half-truth, he learns the importance of honesty and of following God with his whole heart, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Written by Francis Chan, this story communicates deep theology in a way that is perfect for kids to understand. The Halfway Herbert story is simple, but it comes up in so many conversations, teaching us again and again, it is one I recommend to families.

The Nineteenth of Marquerk

Based on Proverbs 13:4, The Nineteenth of Marquerk is a rhyming tale teaching the importance of hard work. The illustrations are colorful and inviting, the poem lilting and fun. My kids always enjoy reading this book together, and we are all reminded of the importance of diligence and finishing what we start. The rewards of responsibility aren’t always what we expect — they’re often times better!

God Made All of Me

God Made All of Me communicates God’s amazing and beautiful work in creating people! The book equips parents to talk with both boys and girls about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between the appropriate and inappropriate touch of others. It’s not a book to leave lying around for kids to pick up (the back contains information for parents about preventing sexual abuse) and should definitely be read and talked about together.

The illustrations are colorful; the concepts are simple; and it’s a great resource to open up communication about our bodies and how they are to be respected. (Though not a Christian-based book, one of my favorite books for kids on this topic is this one. To read more about sexual abuse prevention and resources for families, click here.)

You Are Special

Though this book was published nearly 20 years ago, it’s a message for today.

You are Special tells the story of Punchinello, a Wemmick — wooden people carved by the woodworker, Eli. Every day the Wemmicks give each other stickers — stars for the pretty and the talented and gray dots for those who could do little. Punchinello has more gray dots than most, and he just wants to be liked.

Everything changes, though, when Punchinello meets a wooden girl who has no stickers! When people try to put stars on her, they don’t stick! And the grey dots don’t stick either! The reason is Eli, the master woodcarver who created them all. What follows is a beautiful understanding of the uniqueness of each person because they have been created by and belong to God. 

In our comparison culture where our kids find their approval through likes and follower counts, the message of this book is crucial and beautiful. I love this book so much, I used to give every one of my students a copy every single year. The lesson is for kids and for us adults.

Ronnie Wilson’s Gift

Ronnie Wilson’s Gift makes me cry – every time I read it.

All Ronnie Wilson wanted to do was give Jesus the greatest gift he could. The story is Matthew 25:40 and Proverbs 19:17  told in the language of children. Through this book, kids learn how to serve God and love Jesus by serving and loving others.

The story is beautiful, not because it’s profound or especially expressive but because we so strikingly see the heart of Jesus and how He cares for people.

Now after sharing about all of these books, I want to pull them out and read them again!


Erika // erikadawson.com


Question for You ::

What books have impacted your family that you would recommend to others?

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