Should a children’s book teach a lesson? Yesterday I noticed a call on Facebook from a former student of mine who is now a teacher. She was asking people to share names of good children’s picture books that teach a lesson.
This caught my attention because I write stories for children. When I am preparing a manuscript for submission I always carefully read the instructions from the book publisher or magazine editor about what they are looking for from perspective authors. Many clearly state they are NOT looking for children’s stories that teach a lesson. They are most concerned about whether a story is written in a way that will capture the reader’s interest and not whether it will indoctrinate children with some moral truth or teach them a life lesson in an overt way.
I think the very best picture books motivate each reader, whether that is the child listening to the picture book, or the adult reading it to them, to think about something new or consider something familiar in a new way. And that something can be different for every reader.
This post features a few of the many picture books my grandson and I have enjoyed together in the last four years. These six are examples of books he has asked me to read to him over and over again and because of that I assume he thinks they are good books. He and I have never discussed whether they teach a lesson, but I looked each one up online and apparently every one of them teaches children many lessons. I’m glad my grandson and I didn’t know what they were.