Aside from feeding, clothing, and nurturing their children, parents also have the intimidating responsibility of raising well-adjusted kids who respect people and, hopefully, leave the world a little bit better than they found it. Easier said than done, right? Luckily, teaching your kids basic manners and respect can start at a very early age. There are some excellent books that will make your kid more polite and respectful just by sitting down and reading together, something you probably do everyday anyway.
In a world where bullying can start as early as age three, according to the New York Department of Health, and where good manners are often seen as old fashioned and a thing of the past, it's more important than ever for parents to intentionally teach their kids how to behave in social situations, both through example and word.
Manners go much deeper than just learning to say "please" and "thank you." It's learning how to treat the kid on the playground who is "different" with kindness. It's figuring out what diversity and acceptance means. It's learning that interrupting isn't OK and that certain behaviors require certain responses. Manners are messy, hard to learn, and even harder to practice, but armed with books like these, the worthwhile task will become much more manageable.
1'Excuse Me: A Little Book Of Manners' by Karen Katz
For toddlers, Excuse Me: A Little Book Of Manners is the perfect introduction to saying "please" and "thank you." With interactive lift-the-flap pages, they'll love to read it over and over.
2'The Day the Crayons Came Home' by Drew Daywalt
The Day The Crayons Came Home is the hilarious sequel to The Day The Crayons Quit, and tells the story of a little boy who made them all feel equal and appreciated and welcome to come home. In addition to be adorable, it teaches kids about equality and making people of all kinds feel like they matter.
3'My Mouth Is A Volcano!' by Julia Cook
Although all of Louis' thoughts are very important to him, he can't distinguish when to say them and when not to, after all, his mouth is a volcano. Teaching kids the importance of waiting to speak and deciding what to say is paired with a dose of humor in My Mouth is a Volcano!.
4'The Story Of Ferdinand' by Munro Leaf
The Story of Ferdinand is a classic for a reason. Though it also teaches self-acceptance, the story is about being true to yourself and loving others no matter how different they are.
5'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller
Do Unto Otters uses the "golden rule" that we should treat others how we would like to be treated as the premise for teaching more basic manners like "please" and "thank you," but also more complex ones as well.
6'Mind Your Manners B.B. Wolf' by Judy Sierra
For anyone who loves fairy tales, this book is a must. Picking up years after the classic big bad wolf story left off, Mind Your Manners B.B. Wolf tells the story of the big bad wolf, a content retiree, who is invited to tea with a librarian. He obviously must learn some manners and will teach your kids right along with him.
7'The Cow That Went Oink' by Bernard Most
The Cow That Went Oink is a silly story of friendship and acceptance about a cow who just didn't want to moo like his friends.
8'Rules Of The Wild' by Bridget Levin
Rules of the Wild pits kids against various animals (a valid comparison, some days), and uses humor to teach them how and how not to act. A camel spits, but should your child? Probably not.
9'Llama Llama And The Bully Goat' by Anna Dewdney
One of the books in this beloved children's series, Llama Llama and the Bully Goat teaches kids that it's not ok to be a bully.
10'Little Blue And Little Yellow' by Leo Lionni
In a story of diversity and friendship, Little Blue and Little Yellow is about a two colors who were such good friends their differences disappeared and they became green.
11'An Awesome Book Of Thanks' by Dallas Clayton
An illustrated walk through a fantastical world in An Awesome Book of Thanks! will teach kids to be thankful for everything, even the simple, boring moments.