Of all the things we want to teach children, solid valued that result in solid character is right near the top. But how can you teach character? What can we, as parents do to facilitate the growth of good character traits such as honesty and compassion and spiritual strength?
What is the primary way Jesus taught the people? With stories. Perhaps there is no better way to teach solid values than in stories that children relate to. No wonder then, that Christine Davidson’s new book, Epic Stories for Character Education, has won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the category of children’s education.
Author C.A. Davidson suggests that values can be taught and practiced by parents in the home, within the family, in ways that can rescue their children from false values taught in our society. How can this be accomplished? Through sharing life-changing stories, especially at dinnertime.
The Value of Dinner Talk
Davidson reminds us that people were irresistibly drawn the messages Jesus taught through stories, and that each walked away with that portion of the bread of life that fed his own soul. She says,
“How did the Savior do it? With Parables. He broke bread with His friends. He fed them, and taught them parables that changed their lives. We call this “Dinner Talk.” Dinner Talk is the archetype parable of the Savior’s ministry. It is the most natural, irresistible form of fellowship — and it builds lasting bonds … In homes where the Dinner Talk parable is a way of life, family and friends find refuge … [and] safety in the fellowship of the King.
“Dinner Talk is the universal parable, a metaphor of enduring family unity that can comfort generations, long after we are gone. Dinner Talk is the universal tradition that unites families and provides a stable foundation for future generations.”
Following this pattern, Davidson’s illustrated, short epic stories are presented in “dinner talk” style. They transmit traditional values in the natural, comfortable setting of daily family meals.
Using history, classic literature, and character education that are missing from most academic curricula, the author provides a resource for parents, teachers, grandparents and other mentors to rebuild at home the moral foundation which all Christians share, and from which political, economic, and other solutions are derived.
The Center for Addictions and Substance Abuse (CASA), which established the annual National Family Day on September 26, lists some practical benefits of daily family meals:
- less substance abuse
- better health
- better academic performance
Imagine how much more benefit there would be for families who not only eat together but read together character-building stories that stir the imagination and deepen commitment to gospel values.
The question of questions is this:
What can families do to fortify their children against Satan and his deceptions?
Like the mothers in the Book of Mormon who taught their sons to be warriors against a wicked foe, we parents must teach the rising generation to be cultural warriors, and leaders in the ongoing battle of good vs. evil. This is war!
The key is in Isaiah 54:13. “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
How can we select stories that best teach our children of the Lord in a way that will really get inside and affect their thoughts, feeling and behaviors? The author of Epic Stories has done a great service for parents, grandparents, and anyone working with youth. She has done the hard work of selecting prime character-building stories, putting them into easy-to-understand and compellingly simple language, and compiling them into one easy-to-use book.
Davidson refers us to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, where he gives us the ancient, time-tested lifestyle of keeping the words of life in our hearts and teaching them to our children: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
We need to be teaching our beloved children all the time, not just during family home evenings! We need to teach in the morning, in the evening, when we sit and walk and talk and eat with them. How do you get them to listen?
For a long time when my five sons were young, noisy, and energetic, the only time I could be sure they would be quiet and listen was when their mouths were full. So I read to them while they ate! (It was a good weight control program for me, as well.)
More Strengths of This Story Collection
In Epic Stories, “The Story of Judah and Joseph” tells of a Christian branch of the family of Israel, who emigrated west from Jerusalem, bringing records of ancient prophets up through the Isaiah era. While revealing The Book of Mormon as an additional witness verifying Biblical history, this collection of historical, non-theological stories also repeatedly confirms the core moral absolutes of the Bible.
In keeping with adventure games popular among the rising generation, the epic stories depict high stakes relevant to modern times, portraying heroes (who preserve liberty) and villains (who promote tyranny). From behavior patterns of key figures shown in the larger picture of history, families are encouraged to learn worthy leadership skills, and show one another how to win at the “game of life.”
Recipe for Strengthening Families
Here’s what some of Davidson’s readers are saying about this book:
- No matter where you turn in this valuable family resource there are thoughtful, character strengthening, and uplifting essays, guaranteed to increase one’s awareness and understanding of time-proven principles that lead one to happiness and peace. ~Lynn Edward D., grandfather
- The teachers in our schools are already over worked. Teaching our children correct principles and values is our responsibility. Finding a way to go about doing this can be a little intimidating for some of us especially with adolescents. C.A. Davidson gives us a wonderful tool in her book Epic Stories for Character Education. ~Julie, teacher and parent of young adults
Where do we start?
Epic Stories for Character Education is a cultural survival guide, and is available at www.amazon.com/Epic-Stories-Character-Education-Davidson.
You don’t have to stop there. The author, Christine Davidson, offers online support, giving suggestions on how to work character education smoothly into your daily routine without getting burned out. Find this support at: www.epicworld.net
Continual online support is also provided at the author’s blog, “Epic Stories Dinner Talk Series.” Daily Dinner Topics added in her blog include arts, book reviews, character-building, faith, history, literature, classical music, parenting tips, politics, stress management, and more.
There is a great hidden beauty in this book. It is written in a manner that can introduce Book of Mormon stories to other faiths and create a greater understanding between people of different religions. Of course Biblical standards are amplified and made more understandable and powerful in the minds of youth when you add Book of Mormon stories.
I wish I’d had this story compilation available when my boys were young; but now I can share them with my grandchildren.
I hope you will too.