Every parent wants their child to develop positive character
traits. One way to supplement your child’s character
education is to act as a filter for the movies and
television shows your child watches, and to review the books
your child reads.
The following categories are
modeled after “The Book of Virtues for Young People,” an
excellent book for children in its own right, written by
William Bennett. When developing a curriculum of character
education for your child, it’s helpful to review each
children’s book, television show, and movie for both
positive and negative examples of each of the ten virtues
outlined in “The Book of Virtues for Young People.” The
stronger the message, the more it will contribute to your
child’s character education.
Following are some ways
in which the virtues can manifest as character traits in
children’s books, movies, and in television
Self-Discipline: A character discusses his
feelings of anger rather than impulsively striking out. Or,
a character gets his chores done before he goes out to play.
Compassion: A character understands the pain or
suffering of a friend, and steps in to help, even when it
means she can’t attend the party she was looking forward to.
Responsibility: A character admits it was his
baseball that broke the window, and offers to pay for a
replacement. Or, a character keeps her promise to babysit
her younger sister, even though she’d rather go to the
movies with her friends.
Friendship: A character
stands up for her friend in front of her peers, even though
it’s not popular. Or, a character befriends the class bully
in an effort to get him to change his ways.
character approaches her job with a positive attitude, and
does her very best even when her boss is being unfair. Or, a
character makes up a game to get through an unpleasant task,
and takes pride in her work even though it goes unnoticed.
Courage: A character is afraid of the raging waters,
but takes the risk and dives in to save her family. Or, a
character stands up for what he believes in, even though
Perseverance: A character continues
to strive to make the basketball team, even though he’s a
foot shorter than the other players. Or, a family works
together to keep their home, even though the father has lost
his job and the mother is ill.
Honesty: A character
admits to himself that he isn’t trying his hardest. Or, a
character talks to an adult about a friend in trouble, even
though the friend will get angry at her.
character sticks with his losing soccer team in the hope of
helping them become better, rather than joining a winning
soccer team. Or, a character stays at her friend’s side
during a serious illness or hardship.
character reaches out to God to help him in his time of
When evaluating character traits and virtues
in kids’ books, movies, and television shows, also look at
negative behavioral influences. Ideally, these influences
will be minimal. Consider, for example:
Does the character hurt himself, another person, or an
animal through his words or actions, and does he act without
Profanity: Does the character use foul
language, sexual language, or take God’s name in vain?
Nudity: Does the movie, television show, or book
show or describe suggestive styles of dress or partially
clothed or nude characters?
Sexual Content: Do the
characters engage in implied or overt sexual behavior, or do
they engage in aberrant sexual behavior?
Alcohol, and Tobacco: Do the characters use or abuse legal
or illegal substances?
Scary Elements: Are the
scenarios depicted gratuitously frightening?
Negative Behaviors: Does the character show
disrespect to his parents? Or, does he neglect his homework?
Or, does he frighten other children?
both the positive character traits and negative behaviors of
movies, television shows, and books, and selecting those
that reinforce the values and virtues that are important to
you, you’ll go far in developing your child’s character