The Best Character Building Books for Kids
I want to help you find the Best Character-Building Books for Kids! Let me help you start Read-aloud time in your family! It will be a treasured time, and make your children love books, and make them become lifelong learners! This activity is the number one thing you can do to ensure success in your child’s education!
These are the kind of books that you can count as school, and that will bond your family together as you read them aloud by the fire with your hot chocolate at night. And you’ll find your child with a flashlight under the blankets reading way past their bedtime. These are those kinds of books! For more book recommendations for other ages, read this post, “How to Get the Perfect Gift for Everyone On Your List.”
This post is long. But, worth it, trust me. It’s PACKED with helpful information! Bookmark it, pin it to read later, buy your favorites for your own home library–often they go out of print, or aren’t available anymore, and the new libraries get rid of the old books, so get your copy before you can’t anymore! There is a section just below to Help you with Quick Navigation throughout this post to find my book recommendations by age, of the Best Character-Building Books for Kids! (This was updated AGAIN August, 2020:)
This Post Has Been Updated and New Books Added!
If you want an easy way to help instill Godly character in your children, get really good books (living books) and read them aloud to your children.
Get some of these good, living books in your home right now, today, and start to see a difference in your children. Read excellent books to your kids and invest in Godly character. Don’t wait another day!
Here is how we did it: A Biblical Foundation for why the family is important, how to retrain the appetites of your children, control devices, how to have a close family, and how to use books to build character is laid out in “A 2020 Vision For Raising Godly Kids,” available in Your Home For God’s store!
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click on a link and end up making a purchase. This supports Your Home For God and we are very grateful! (*Please note: I have no control over the prices Amazon places in connection with the image of a book that I share here, and these can suddenly jump to astronomical amounts, but this does not mean very much. Go to the link and look around–chances are you’ll find a reasonably-priced version of that book, if you just look for it:) Thanks for understanding!!!
My Personal Favorite List of Best Character-Building Books For Kids
- Tiger and Tom and other stories for boys
- The King’s Daughter and other stories for girls
- Stories Worth Rereading
- Childhood of Famous Americans Series
- Landmark BooksSeries
- Cornerstones of Freedom Series
- Wisdom and the Millers Series
- Books by Isabella Alden (pen name Pansy)
- Lamplighter Books Series
- Elsie Dinsmore Series
- G. A. Henty Series (Historical Fiction)
First, I’ll tell you my all-time favorite Book Series, then our story, and how we did things and what God did, and then, I’ll share with you some of the best books that I think you can find. I have had trouble finishing this post, because I keep thinking of MORE! Let me know if this is something you enjoy, and I will do more posts on book recommendations, because I thought of so many more that I didn’t mention, especially in the Preschool and K-3rd grade section!
I hope you will get to know me and find my recommendations trustworthy, and try my suggestions! Because, there are so many fabulous books in this post and also on my Thanksgiving Book Recommendations post, and I know you’ll be blessed. Thank you so much for supporting this blog and me!
At Christmas and birthdays every year we had a tradition regarding gifts for our children. Receiving so many toys already, we felt they didn’t need any more from us. Our children were getting plenty of toys from grandparents, aunts and uncles. We began the tradition of buying 3 things for each child, each year. Every year we bought them:
- A Book
- A Pair of New Pajamas
- A Game
Usually the game was a board game that the family could play together and with extended family. Grandma (my mom) loved playing games, and whenever we got together, we usually played a game with the children. Buying books that were part of a series or collection made it easier, as we could just add to it each year. And, because the cost of books usually went up, buying the whole collection or series at once (and sometimes on sale), and then just giving one book each year from my gift shelf, made good financial sense.
Advantages of this gift-giving approach are that you can be looking for the books and other items throughout the year, and buying them, when on sale during the year. We didn’t feel the pressure at the last minute to buy SOMETHING, even if it was expensive, or not a good choice, just so that we’d have a gift. We avoided impulse buying.
Another advantage is that these are non-perishable items. They can sit on the gift shelf as long as you’d like. So, we could buy a gift, and still shop the big sales that often happen just before Christmas! If we found something better, or the same item cheaper, we could hold the gift for the following birthday or Christmas, and add the duplicate to our lending shelf. We might even keep the original purchase on our gift shelf for a friend’s gift that we would need in the future.
The third advantage of this approach for us as Homeschoolers, is that these books could be used for Homeschooling. For example, our son loved the G. A. Henty Historical Fiction books. They were excellent books, filled with historical facts, and could easily accomplish some of his history credits, if we purchased the right ones at the right time.
Of course, we would set aside funds for Homeschooling each year, and if we could buy one book and have it count for both Homeschooling and a Christmas gift, it was doing double duty.
Disclosure: Some of the links on my blog are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only promote products that I love, believe in, and think will be helpful to you. Thank you for helping Your Home For God continue to bring you good things.
Buy Books for Children You Love
Are you a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, who has children in your life that you’re praying for? I assume you are, since you’re reading this post!
Would you like to be an influence in their life for Godliness?
Buy them character-building books for their birthdays and Christmas!
Encourage reading. If you’re an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, encourage their parents in read-aloud time, by giving great books. Every Christmas, for years now, I have given my great-nieces and great-nephews a carefully chosen used book, in good condition. Each child is unique, and getting to know their dreams and desires, through the books they love, is fun! I know they enjoy this tradition. And, I can have an influence on the generation to come and their families for godliness and character-building:)
It is perfectly fine to buy used books as a gift, but do try to find ones in very good condition. I’m glad to find online sources for excellent old books, and I love that Amazon carries all these character-building books!
I do most of my shopping online, and love the convenience of having books and gifts (and all my purchases) delivered to my door. I’m not tempted by in-store impulse buying and with Amazon Prime, I can get purchases delivered in 2 days, free, so I don’t buy extra things I didn’t really need just to get my total up to an amount that will gain me free shipping.
I also love Audible. Have you tried it? For busy moms who love to read it allows you to still enjoy reading even though you have so much to do! Your hands are freed to get things done while you “read”/listen to a book! I read twice as much since I got Audible!
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks
Occasionally, I like to invest in some books that are actually really old and hardcover. I love the history that comes with that book, admiring the old book cover, and design. I think we take better care of a hardcover book–I know my kids did. Reading from a font from so long ago and knowing a person from a time-gone-by read the book, too–is so cool. That’s just my personality. I love old things!
Knowing it was in the hands of a boy or girl from a completely different era is an amazing thought and that that book, if cared for, can be passed down to generations to come. I think my children took better care of really old books, and learned to respect them. They have their own libraries of books they loved and took good care of as children.
Buying books as gifts is a way to stay involved in their lives and let them know I care. It gives us the opportunity to invest in their spritual lives, in a not-so-direct way. You can train in Godly character through the book’s characters and message. It may raise topics you and your children need to talk about but might not otherwise. And, allow you to point them back to the Word of God for their answers.
As a parent, this is near and dear to your heart, for your children to grow into Godly men and women. Perhaps you want to adopt my idea and begin a tradition of buying a book for each of your children for Christmas? I hope these suggestions will be helpful to you!
Reading Aloud Character-Building Books to Children Changes Their Character
Reading aloud character-building books to children changes them! It really does affect their character and help them develop into Godly people.
With excellent writing, the child is drawn into the book, and feels the character’s emotions with them, thinks about the problems they face, responds to the situations they are confronted with. They have to think through the decisions they would make in each situation. Books expand their horizons.
You want to choose books where the main characters, hero and heroine, make wise choices. Or, if they make an unwise choice, it is clear that the consequences of that choice were not what they would want. Your own reading should reflect these principles, as well! Here are two favorites, if you have sibling rivalry in your home, Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends, by the Mally family, and Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Long after the book is closed, the child is still thinking about what was read, and processing it, no matter what age they are. You have opportunities to talk about the situations you read about, from a Biblical perspective, and even stop in your reading, to discuss, when you know what your child just heard. It’s an excellent time for a child to ask questions, and for you to teach them God’s thoughts and ways. Give them time and opportunity for discussion. Ask, “What do you think about (what just happened, or was said)?” And then, really listen! Really good conversations can come out of read-aloud times.
Besides instilling Godly character, reading aloud teaches other things. As they listen, they hear big words they have never heard before, and you can broaden their vocabulary by teaching them the definition. It’s fine if you don’t know the definition and have to look it up! You are teaching them to do the same! As you read, you will hear about new places and cultural differences. Geography, social studies, history, language arts are all being taught.
Reading-aloud to children is one of my absolute favorite things to do! I have been blessed to have really excellent book recommendations given to me over the years, and to discover wonderful books! And, now I can pass them on to you!
Today I’m going to share some of my favorite character-building book recommendations, especially for read-aloud. Included will be my age recommendations, but I have found that, when reading aloud to children, younger-aged children can listen to books that would normally be too old for them, and get a lot from them. You don’t think that they are listening, or getting anything out of it, but they are.
Training Children to Sit Still
If one of your problems with read-aloud time is that your children don’t want to sit still, don’t give up training them! Some children sit still for long periods of time naturally, but they are the exception. Training children to sit still is something every parent should do. Very few do. There are so many times when this will be useful to you, that I strongly urge you to do it early and then practice it often. It will help your child in so many ways. Self-control, ability to concentrate and learn, and preventing mishaps and strife with others, are just a few.
Some examples of times you will need your children to sit still are:
- In Church
- At the dinner table
- During Family Devotions
- When visiting a home with many breakable objects
- In the car
Life will be so much simpler if you can teach your children to sit still. Have you heard of blanket training? This is a training of babies/children to stay on a blanket that you place on the floor, and not move off of it, just as if they were confined in a Pack n Play.
How to Teach Your Children to Sit Still
With small children, start with very short periods of time, like 15-30 seconds. Make it a game. Have them sit on a chair, and set a timer. Reward for success. Do it again 2-3 times. Encourage and praise. Repeat daily. Do this daily and go a little bit longer the next week as they get better.
Also, expect them to sit still on your lap during family devotions, from a baby. Dad can hold them on his lap and hold their hands still on his lap underneath his. You need to practice having your child sit still at home. Don’t expect them to go to church and sit still well, without practice at home! That’s like going to take a test, without studying! A recipe for failure!
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting next to a family at church. This family has 11 children. I sat next to one of their youngest children. I believe he is 8.
For years, he has been taught to sit still in church, so this experience would have been the same when he was four. It was a complete pleasure! Oh! Did I mention our church services are 2 hours long? And, family-integrated, which means all the children stay in the service the whole time with their family.
He sat as still as an adult! Maybe more so! He listened. He didn’t fidget. When I smiled at him, he smiled back. I talked to the mom later. They have trained, and practiced sitting still, at home!
Read-Aloud Time is Enjoyable Character Practice
Reading aloud to your children gives practice in sitting still. And, in an enjoyable way! It is one of the great joys of Homeschooling! Cuddling up on the sofa together, reading a really good book, is just a joy! Nothing better!
Sometimes my children would be on the floor doing a project while they listened. Or curled up in a chair, drawing or coloring. My daughter enjoyed knitting from the time she was about 8 years old, and worked on more than one Christmas gift scarf while we read. Or she practiced artwork as she got older. She would copy others’ drawings for practice. Here is one of her productions many years ago.
In other words, reading aloud is not just for when you have small children who sit by your side on the sofa! It’s not too late, if you didn’t read aloud, and now have older children. And, don’t stop when your kids get older. In junior and senior high, we often saved our reading aloud time for after my husband got home from work. This bonded us with our teenagers! Now I realize how much time we spent with our teens at a time when they could have been drawn away from us.
We used a history timeline literature-based approach to homeschooling, studying one century each year, reading fabulous missionary biographies and stories of world-changers who lived during that century. This was how we spent our evenings. Mostly, I would do the reading. I really enjoy it!
Especially interesting, in my opinion, was our study of the 20th century. I will have to share that list with you, but that is another list of books for another day!
Why We Didn’t Have A TV
These are truly dear memories for me. But, it wasn’t always that way. When our children were small, we got into bad habits, and though we said we were Christians and thought we were mature, some of the ways that we lived needed changing.
God dramatically arranged for that to happen, since we obviously weren’t getting the hint! I hope you can be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and intentional, and you can make it happen, without dramatic intervention from the Lord!
One day, a big loud pop from our TV caused a turning point in our lives. And, just like that, we no longer had a working TV. I really believe God took our TV out that day! It turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened. We talked it over and debated, but in the end, we chose not to replace it. This was partly a financial decision. But, God knew what we needed.
When you take one thing out of your life, it is important to replace it with something better.
“I ask whether you pray because diligence in prayer is the secret of eminent holiness.”Wendy Gunn
Taking the TV out of our life, when our children were about 12 and 9, led to our evenings being devoted to reading together as a family, to spending time talking, and just being together, usually in our family room.
Besides reading aloud, we did projects. Homemade gifts were produced. Doing crafts and handwork for home decor and gifts was a common activity. Calligraphy, cross stitch, and other handwork were my favorites. My daughter learned knitting and drawing, and enjoyed stamping cards. Baking and cooking for other families were also activities she and I did in the evenings.
During this time we were also involved in AWANA, once a week, and once a month had a group meeting we attended called Discipleship Group. But, that’s pretty much the extent of our nightly activities. Our evenings were intentionally quiet, family times at home. I still managed to feel very busy! But, these times were a blessed drawing away from the hectic world, and drew us together as a family. We, for a short time, were quiet together, going to the world the author had created, and it was very bonding, and enjoyable.
What We Did When Our Children Were Small
You’re thinking, well, that’s all fine and good when you have older kids, but I have little ones! One of the good habits I established with our small children was reading aloud before bedtime. Every night. We had a very set routine. Children thrive on routine!
After picking up toys, and getting pajamas on, etc., with our first child, I would gather a stack of books and we’d sit on my bed and read, every night. At Christmas I loved the Arch books that tell the story of Jesus’s birth in a rhyming and easy-to-understand way.
(Be aware, and look out, because there have been added just a few Arch books that teach error, unfortunately. Just read them before you read them to your children. Most are excellent!:)
Our son memorized whole books by the age of 3, including when to turn the page. We have a video of him reciting a whole book he’d memorized, as he turns the pages at just the right time. He learned this just by hearing the book read aloud nightly! Your children will do the same. Apply this to hiding God’s Word in your child’s heart! They learn from repetition.
These are warm and fond memories. As he got to be around five or six, I introduced chapter books. Wonderful book series, such as Little House on the Prairie, and All of a Kind Family.
The Old Books Are The Best Books
Classic literature never goes out of style. The old books are the best books. I say it often, but find a library that hasn’t got the money to invest in the latest and greatest books. The libraries that have the old books are the ones that you want to visit and borrow books from. You can get books through inter-library loan, if you don’t have a good library near you. The old books, the wonderful old books, are the ones you want to invest in buying and having on your shelves. I believe one way we raised Godly children was beginning and building an excellent home library.
My List of Favorite Character-Building Books
Make a list of your favorites. Find authors that you love. Find series that are excellent. Here is a list of just a few of my very favorites, followed by Book Recommendations By Age:
- Tiger and Tomand other Stories for Boys
- The King’s Daughterand other Stories for Girls
- Stories Worth ReReading
- Childhood of Famous Americans Series
- Landmark Books Series
- Cornerstones of Freedom Series
- Wisdom and the Millers Series
- Books by Isabella Alden (pen name Pansy)
- Lamplighter Books Series
- Elsie Dinsmore Series
- G. A. Henty Series (Historical Fiction)
Books For Preschoolers
- Yellow and Pink (how Someone MUST have created us!)
- Bear Feels Sick (and other “Bear” books by Karma Wilson)
- You Are Special (Max Lucado) Get the hardcover of this one:)
- Golden Books (Little Golden Books are Board books on many subjects, often found at garage sales and in thrift stores, but also on Amazon, thankfully! My favorites talk about Biblical subjects, but there are many that are just plain pure, and fun! I absolutely love any that are illustrated by Eloise Wilkin!)
Classic Characters of Little Golden Books: This collection includes our all-time favorites! The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Scuffy the Tugboat
Books for K-3rd Grade
- All-of-a-kind Family
- Wisdom and The Millers Series (My favorites are Wisdom and The Millers, and Missionary Stories. Everyday situations your children will relate to, and the Bible verse that relates to the attitude within. Short stories, but character-changing.) Get the Character Companion for the Miller Family Series, written by my dear friend, Kris Hage, a veteran Homeschool Mom, and author, for a complete unit study!
- ABeka Readers and Rod and Staff Readers (There are some excellent moral lessons taught as your child begins to read. Character is embedded in every story. Old-fashioned common courtesies and kindnesses, thinking of others and putting them first.)
- Five Little Peppers Series (I love Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. The children are fiercely loyal to each other and their mother, and gratitude is taught through the family’s attitude with very little of this world’s goods.)
- The Courage of Sarah Noble
- Sarah, Plain and Tall
- The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler’s Sons
- Thy Friend, Obadiah
- Pollyanna (book) (Audio book available from Raising Real Men)
Books for 4th-7th Grade
These age guidelines are just that, guidelines. Use your discretion, as a parent. You know your children best. Some who are younger may enjoy these and be ready for them and some of these books may need to wait til your children are older!
- Tip Lewis and His Lamp by Isabella Alden “Pansy”
- G. A. Henty Series Many titles that are on separate historical events and times (for boys)
- Elsie Dinsmore Series Many titles about the character that build upon one another (for girls)
- Wisdom and the Millers
- Gifted Hands
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin (A word of caution: this book should be read aloud by you as a parent, and you must decide if your child is ready for this subject matter–while it is a tremendous book, it deals with a sensitive topic, and may upset more sensitive children, therefore may be better for 8th-12th grades, however, there may be some children in this age group who will be ready for it.)
Books for Middle School and High School
- In His Steps
- All the books by Isabella Alden, penname “Pansy,” (such as Tip Lewis and His Lamp and Ester Reid)
- Stepping Heavenward (for girls) This is well read at 16, 26, 36, 46… as the story is so well-written, and walks with the heroine through each generation, as she seeks to live for the Lord.
- Beautiful Girlhood
- Do Hard Things
- Mountains of Spices
- Just Do Something
As a Christian woman, an easy way to disciple women is to have a shelf of excellent books in your home, that you can loan out! Collect these books above, and others, in your home library and look for opportunities to share them! Books really change lives!
If you want to invest in something, rather than an electronic something or other, why not invest in a library of excellent books, that will bring your family together, accomplish your goals as a Homeschooler, bring Dad into your schooling, and give Godly examples of character to your children. Here is a recommendation for that kind of investment: Childhood of Famous Americans Series.
Get some good, living books in your home right now, and start to see a difference in your children. Read excellent books to your kids and invest in Godly character. Don’t wait another day!
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I love good book tips! What would you recommend for durability? We’ve had really thick hard and softcover books (omnibus) and they fell apart. I would love to hear other’s experiences with hardcover, softcover etc.
We have a friend who buys and sells old used books, and she always covers them with archival quality plastic–this link is for Brodart book covers (https://amzn.to/3d8SgFN). This is individual book covers. You can also buy a long roll, which is what we’ve done, and cut your own to size. It really helps to protect the book!
Also, how you store them on the bookshelf matters. Keep them upright, not too tightly squished in with the other books, not in direct sunlight. Don’t bend the cover back when reading, or stick things in the middle to keep your place. We tried to teach our children to respect books, to put them safely away, or where they would not be wrecked when they were done reading. We didn’t allow them to be thrown around, for instance, or left all over. But, even when you’re careful, sometimes things happen. They can be repaired, usually.
We had a special place for library books. My children are actually better at taking care of books than I am! For some reason, my sleeve often catches on the page when I go to turn pages, and then they are wrinkled:/ I’m working on it! Let me know if that helps!