our everyday life

Books to Help Children Develop Respect & Manners

by Molly Thompson

Reading books about manners is not likely in the top 10 -- or 20 or 50 -- on many kids' list of "fun stuff I want to do," but the variety of kid-friendly books on the subject might change their minds. Get your doll-crazy daughter "Madeline Says Merci (The-Always-Be-Polite Book)," by John Bemelmans Marciano. She might even learn some French along with her manners. Maurice Sendak's fanciful characters will help prepare young readers for various etiquette scenarios in his book, "What Do You Say, Dear?" The colorful illustrations, familiar or quirky characters and silly scenarios in many of these children's manners books can help make teaching your children manners a painless and often funny activity.

The Younger Set

Learning manners can be enjoyable for your toddlers and preschoolers with manners books featuring familiar storybook characters. Emily Elizabeth teaches her lovable furry red dog, Clifford, the basics of manners in "Clifford's Manners" by Norman Bridwell. Young kids will enjoy watching him try to be polite and might pick up some pointers in the process. They can also relate to those mischievous little bears in Jan and Stan Berenstain's "The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners," which teaches manners but acknowledges that even grownups forget their manners occasionally. And the goofy cartoons in Aliki's "Manners" will have your little ones laughing even as they learn important manners.

Grade School Children

Young readers can practice their growing skills by reading books about favorite subjects such as dinosaurs and monsters and pick up etiquette tips at the same time. Both "Monster Manners" by Andrew Glass and "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?" by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague feature their colorful protagonists struggling to get it right in terms of table manners and other etiquette skills. Glass's book provides humorous examples of what young monsters -- and kids -- should and should not do when faced with manners-related decisions. Boys in particular will enjoy the antics in "Stoo Hample's Book of Bad Manners," which scores high on the gross-out scale as it teaches kids what's definitely not acceptable.

Teaching Teens

Your teens probably aren't interested in reading about manners, but they can still benefit from several books written just for them. Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post carry on Emily Post's tradition of teaching manners and etiquette in "Teen Manners: From Malls to Meals to Messaging and Beyond." This book gives teens useful information about how to handle real-life social scenarios, without being preachy or dry. Younger teens, especially your boys, will get a kick out of Pamela Espeland's "Dude, That's Rude!: (Get Some Manners) (Laugh & Learn)." The humorous tone and hilarious illustrations make manners seem almost cool, by teaching which words are OK and which aren't, how to talk to adults and what's acceptable -- and what's not -- in the school cafeteria.

Family Friendly

Make learning and reinforcing manners a family affair and have fun while you do it with the interactive manners quizzes in "What Do You Know About Manners? (A Funny Quiz for Kids)." Authors Cynthia MacGregor and Christine Zuchora-Walske pose common daily scenarios and kids choose from several answers to figure out "what do you do if ..." And while it might be a challenge to think of hundreds of different manners, Sheryl Eberly's "365 Manners Kids Should Know" provides parents a new manners tip for every day of the year. Kids will enjoy practicing their new social skills in the scenarios listed at the end of the lessons.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

Photo Credits

  • BrandX Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images