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good books about empathy, courage, niceness for a 6-7yo?

(15 Posts)
kiritekanawa Sun 09-Nov-14 18:19:57

Need some suggestions on character-building for my niece, who is growing up in a crappy environment where she isn't learning to get on with other people and is being taught that other girls are to be competed against/ potential threats/to be bullied. Materially she is very comfortable indeed, but somewhat neglected in character development.

These look a bit lame, but the categories are sort of what I'm looking for...

compassion, kindness, service to others, generosity, thankfulness, not judging by appearance, diversity and tolerance, open-mindedness.


ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Sun 09-Nov-14 21:02:15

Do you ever get a chance to read to her? If you do, I suggest The Naughtiest Girl in The School.....Blyton might not be the best these days in terms of PC but those are great books for children in terms of learning about empathy and sharing etc.

For things she can read herself....unless she's very advanced, it's a bit hard...though the Timothy Goes To School books are simple and do have some good themes, a few of them are outstandingly badly written but others are very good..

BlueChampagne Mon 10-Nov-14 13:36:04

The Secret Garden, or A Little Princess, as audio books?

BlueChampagne Mon 10-Nov-14 13:37:27

Anne of Green Gables?

Wolfbasher Mon 10-Nov-14 13:37:56

Chalet School books? I loved these when I was a child, and there's loads about learning to be nicer people (Eustacia changes her ways, I seem to remember!)

Toomanyhouseguests Mon 10-Nov-14 13:39:22

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. You would have to read it to her. It is for children but a chapter book.

My elder DD loved it.

kiritekanawa Mon 10-Nov-14 17:48:55

Thanks for the ideas. She'd probably go for the Naughtiest Girl in the School at this stage (at least, if I could sneak Enid Blyton past the thought police... and if these live up to my memory of loving them - a lot of Blyton is a bit weak on revisiting)...

The Hundred Dresses looks good. I might peruse the Newberry Honor book list, and other similar lists...


ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Mon 10-Nov-14 18:02:49

I loved the Naughtiest many valuable lessons about kindness, patience and justice.

RememberYoureAWomble Wed 12-Nov-14 10:35:23

All the Anna Hibsicus books by Atinuke - they're lovely to read and I think have the kind of message you are looking for.

lostintoys Sat 15-Nov-14 07:47:57

Ballet Shoes, Tennis Shoes, etc, by Noel Streatfield are very good on character building, resilience, empathy etc, but depending on how good a reader she is you may have to read them to her.

kiritekanawa Sun 16-Nov-14 12:16:03

Thanks for these ideas.

Interestingly I read all the Streatfield books obsessively as a child, but never really saw them in that light - to me, the emphasis always seemed to be on how having a major talent in the performing arts will make you centre of the universe to loads of very interested adults who dance around enabling you, and despite the occasional flash of talent from the also-rans, everyone else in life will just have to be more invisible/ less fortunate/ more boring.

Perhaps this is why I'm now having a midlife crisis, and giving up my fascinating, terribly special, all-consuming career, which has kind of stalled due to my lack of people skills... to become one of the more boring also-rans in the Noel Streatfield universe...

Re-reading them may well reveal the books were intended in a completely different light!

Bluestocking Sun 16-Nov-14 12:32:58

Noel Streatfeild's Gemma books are good on learning to get on with others even when you are the "special" one, as is "The Painted Garden".
Laura Ingalls Wilder's books are great on team working and appreciating each other, with good insights into how it feels to think you are the plain one in the family.
Monica Dickens' House at World's End series - children who look after each other while their parents are absent.
Lottie and Lisa - the book on which the film "The Parent Trap" was based. Separated twins work together to reunite their parents.
Alison Uttley's The Country Child, a bewitching memoir.
Eve Garnett's Family from One End Street series - a large family of resourceful children.
E Nesbitt - more resourceful children!
Elizabeth Goudge - The Little White Horse, Henrietta's House.

Stories with non-human protagonists:
Ursula Moray Williams - Gobbolino the Witch's Cat, The Little Wooden Horse - brave little creatures who keep going whatever the cost.
Eileen Bell's Tales from the End Cottage - the daily doings of a group of animals belonging to Mrs Apple.
Rumer Godden - Miss Happiness and Miss Plum, The Dolls House - rather strange but lovely stories with strong messages about what happens to individuals who are unkind.

kiritekanawa Sun 16-Nov-14 12:53:51

Thanks Bluestocking.

Something that was definitely a feature of all the books I read avidly as a child, was that the protagonist(s) was (were) always effectively isolated. Parents had always been killed off conveniently, kids in the Streatfield books were homeschooled, adult figures were remote and not humane, if children interacted at all it was through circumstance rather than preference (being the only 3 kids in The Secret Garden) etc.

There was really never any sense of protagonists being part of a group or having to get along with members of their own family, seeing adults as humans - and I think this is what is very much missing from my niece's upbringing now.

Maybe she needs stuff like Swallows and Amazons, or the Famous Five - though that life is so totally remote from her hothoused city apartment upbringing with playdates in mansions and private-lesson afterschool activities every day, she may well be unable to relate to those kinds of books.

I'm going to try the Anna Hibiscus ones while she's still just young enough to potentially appreciate them, and go on from there...

emmaMBC Sun 16-Nov-14 19:51:53

Picture books can still be really helpful with this age group, especially when trying to communicate a really important message.

There are some great Christmas books with relevant themes. The Empty Stocking in particular is suited to older readers / listeners due to the length of the narrative. Well worth a read, a wonderful story.

cowbiscuits74 Sun 16-Nov-14 20:16:16

Good on you for doing this for your niece

Buddha at Bedtime is good for boys and girls, it has stories with a message such as not judging by appearance, being honest, helping others etc. my 7 year old boy loves it, many stories feature animals and royalty in faraway lands. Each story is 2-3 pages long and summed up with a 'Buddha says'. It is not overtly religous or touchy feely, just nicely illustrated stories.

Also sounds like your niece might read and benefit from Kate Dicamillo'sThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, in which a haughtly little bunny learns a lot of life lessons

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