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9 Children's Books That Teach Your Child What Respect Really Means

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When it comes to educating your children, I'm a firm believer that books are a wonderful way to teach them. Beginning at a young age, you can choose children's books with a message to help them understand a number of things. Often times, books can help teach children lessons that seem simple as an adult, but can be difficult to instill, like respect. Used as a learning tool along with attentive parenting, the books that teach your children what respect really means can help you instill values you feel are important.

Respect is one of the most important lessons you can teach a child, and one of the earliest lessons you'll want to instill. Learning how to respect others is detrimental to your child's upbringing, because what they learn from you about respect is what they'll take out into the world. And nothing is worse than encountering a child (or worse yet, a teen or adult) who doesn't seem to grasp the concept of respect.

When children are young, they often want to know the reason behind what you're telling them to do. Often times, "because mommy said so" is not reason enough to change your child's behavior. When you introduce books as a learning tool, it helps your child to see situations from other peoples point of view. By being on the outside of a situation looking in, your child can begin to learn about how to respect others, and why they should respect others. Whether it's respecting strangers, someone else's wishes, sharing with others, or allowing others to be themselves, the following books all teach wonderful lessons about respect, and how to integrate it into every day life.

1. 'Great Joy' by Kate DiCamillo

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During the Christmas season, Frances comes across an organ grinder and his pet monkey. She watches them from afar, noticing that they sleep in the cold streets alone, and have no place to go. What follows in Great Joy is a heartwarming tale that will teach children that everyone, even those who may not be familiar, or the same as them, deserves respect, love, and kindness.

2. 'A Chair For My Mother' by Vera B. Williams

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After a fire destroys Rosa's family home, she joins her mother and grandmother in saving coins to help buy a new chair. A Chair For My Mother teaches children that sometimes, selflessness is more important than personal wants, and that respect starts at home with family, even in the toughest of times.

3. 'Loser' by Jerry Spinelli

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For middle school readers, Loser by Jerry Spinelli will teaches kids that everyone deserves respect. Zinkoff is a colorful character who may not fit the mold, but teaches kids that individuality is something to be welcomed, not disrespected.

4. 'The Way I Act' by Steve Metzger

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With a range of situations presented, The Way I Act encourages children to think about how they might act in a certain situation. From riding on an exciting slide, to a grandparent who needs help, to meeting new children, this book gives kids a chance to explore how they might act in hypothetical situations, and suggests appropriate, respectful behavior, for them.

5. 'I Just Don't Like The Sound Of No!' by Julia Cook

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I Just Don't Like The Sound Of No! teaches obstinate children how to accept no as an answer, and how to disagree the right way. Through lessons at school and at home, RJ learns how to accept no, even though he just doesn't like the sound of it.

6. 'The Recess Queen' by Alexis O'Neill

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The Recess Queen tells a tale of a new girl coming to school, and befriending Mean Jean, who rules the playground. Rather than using a mean nature to beat Mean Jean at her own game, this book teaches children that kindness and respect are much quicker avenues to resolving problems.

7. 'Interrupting Chicken' by David Ezra Stein

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In Interrupting Chicken, the little red chicken has a hard time containing her excitement about her bedtime stories, even though her Papa has asked her to stop interrupting. This all too familiar tale of children interrupting stories, tales, and more, will help your child to learn that respect comes in many forms, even small forms, like not interrupting others until they're finished.

7. 'The Bicycle Man' by Allen Say

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In The Bicycle Man, two American soldiers delight children with their tricks on a bicycle. Although it might sound like a simple story, the tale takes place after World War II, in occupied Japan, where simple delights and interactions between soldiers and children weren't always so easy. In this story, your child will learn that even those people you don't think you have anything in common with deserve your respect, and deserve kindness.

8. 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl

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Matilda's parents are the furthest thing from role models, on many levels, but especially when it comes to respect. They don't appreciate or love their daughter for who she is, and they don't tolerate one another very well either. In Matilda, children will learn that even when people don't give you the respect you deserve, you can still share your joy, and respect others.

9. 'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller

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In this adorable book, the Otters move in next door to Mr. Rabbit. Mr. Rabbit doesn't know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends? How do you treat them? With the help of Mr. Owl, Mr. Rabbit learns to treat the Otters the same way that he'd like to be treated. A cute play on the age old adage, "do unto others," Do Unto Otters is a book your children will love and learn from for years to come.