Children's Stories About Responsibility

Written by jensen johansson
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Children's Stories About Responsibility
Children's stories are good for teaching morals. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Teaching your child values is not an easy task. Children's stories may help, if you know how to choose them and adapt them to your child's age. From fables and fairy tales to modern popular psychology for kids, all these stories intrigue children's imagination and teach them values and responsible behaviour. The undying classics never fail to bring the lesson home.

The Little Prince

One of the most popular children's novellas ever, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's "The Little Prince" has a breathtaking storyline that will both hold your child's attention and teach him life values, responsibility included. The little prince meets the narrator after he crashes in the Sahara desert. Chapters include many drawings and lots of marginal characters, whose dialogues offer wisdom to children and parents alike. An example that illustrates the responsibility lesson comes through a response of a fox that the prince meets when leaving the Sahara desert. "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

The Happy Prince

Like Saint-Exupéry, Oscar Wilde is also known for his profound wisdom. However, unlike Saint-Exupéry, Wilde offers lots of irony and sarcasm, which only underline the point in his stories. "The Happy Prince" tells of a swallow and a statue of the happy prince. Together they bring happiness to poor citizens. In the end, that costs the prince his beauty and position and the swallow his life. Sad and engrossing, this story teaches children the highest values in life: love, sharing and responsibility. The little bird refuses to leave the prince after he has lost his eyes: "Then the Swallow came back to the Prince. 'You are blind now,' he said, 'so I will stay with you always.' 'No, little Swallow,' said the poor Prince, 'you must go away to Egypt.' 'I will stay with you always,' said the Swallow, and he slept at the Prince's feet."

The Little Match Girl

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" is a sad story of a poor girl selling her matches on a cold New Year's Eve. Freezing, but afraid to go home, the girl lights her matches to keep cold at bay, seeing a vision of her deceased grandmother, the only person who loved her in life. In the end, her grandmother takes her home to Heaven. A strong lesson in responsibility, or rather, irresponsibility is cruelly underlined in Andersen's words explaining why the girl is afraid to go home: "She was getting colder and colder, but did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father would surely beat her."

The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage

One of many Grimm's fairy tales, "The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage" demonstrates responsibility in joint activities. The tale introduces partnership between a mouse, a bird and a sausage. They live together and each performs its own task: the bird fetches wood from the forest, the mouse carries water, makes the fire and sets the table and the sausage cooks. After a while, the actors exchange their duties, since "when people are too well off they always begin to long for something new." This proves a disaster, since the sausage cannot carry wood, the mouse cannot cook and the bird cannot fetch water. The tale ends with all characters dead.

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