Children’s Literature: Reinforcing Positive Behavior

On Instagram, I’ve been talking about things to consider when choosing books for your kids. Here’s a summary:

1- Kids will mimic the attitudes of the main characters in books they read

A few years ago, I read Jenny Phillips’ story, in which she describes how her daughter was negatively impacted by some books she was reading. Since then I have been so mindful of the books we read in our house, and I definitely notice my kids mimicking their favorite characters. You can watch Jenny Phillips’ Story. While you’re on her site, download her free book list and look through The Good and the Beautiful Library. She has some fantastic books.

2- Young kids are still identifying good and bad

If we present characters to them who are “good” but do bad things, they will be confused. Stick to characters who make good choices. For preschoolers, bad decisions should be immediately evident and resolved. The length of time the bad choice plays out can lengthen as kids start to follow longer storylines.

In research done on the impact superhero media has on preschoolers, researchers found that “[t]hese programs contain complex storylines that interweave violence and prosocial behavior, and preschoolers do not have the cognitive capability to pick out the wider moral message that is often portrayed.” (Read the entire article.)  

3- Preschoolers relate better to stories with human characters

In a study done at the University of Toronto, preschoolers naturally took in the message of book about sharing when the main character was a kid, as opposed to a person-like animal. So reading books with human characters is definitely best. However, they found that the kids who noticed more similarities between themselves and the animal, were able to apply the lessons better. So when reading books with animal (or object) characters, be sure to point out similarities between the character and your child. You can read about this study.

4- Stereotypical characters can influence kids thoughts and behavior, but talking about it helps

In a study on Disney princess culture, researchers found that girls who were too engaged in the culture, without their parents taking the time to point out the stereotypes were more likely to be negatively influenced by it. Talking about negative examples in books helps. Read more.

For book recommendations, check out my Instagram Page.

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