When it comes to life lessons, classic children’s books have a special way of conveying truths and wisdom. They don’t beat a child over the head or talk down to the child. Instead, the child comes to identify with the characters, seeing who is good and who is bad, and learning from the dialogue.
The fact, too, is that children often want to emulate their favorite characters, which highlights the importance of reading quality literature. Just reading isn’t enough, what the child is reading matters. The same goes for us as adults. As the cliché goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess is just one example of a book for boys and girls that provides many morsels of wisdom throughout the story. As you may recall, A Little Princess is the story of a young girl in the 1800s who is brought to London for boarding school from India by her widowed, wealthy father. Sadly, he dies while away from her, all of their wealth is lost, and she goes from being the most pampered student at the boarding school to an indentured servant. Without giving away anything else, the story provides many opportunities to reflect upon character and what is important in life.
Indeed, the truth of children learning from books and being inspired to act was so recognized by the author that A Little Princess includes an example within its own story:
It’s not just the telling of stories, but also the dialogue that conveys character and morals to the reader. Here’s one little nugget:
“Perhaps to be able to learn things quickly isn’t everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people…Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked.”
And one more:
“When people are insulting you, there is nothing so good for them as not to say a word – just to look at them and think. Miss Minchin turns pale with rage when I do it, Miss Amelia looks frightened, and so do the girls. When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wish they hadn’t said afterward. There’s nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in – that’s stronger.”
For the rest of them, you’ll have to read the book.