8 Books Promoting Morals and Values for Your Students

Author: Rich Atkinson


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Lawyer Atticus Finch tackles injustice and racism when a black man is accused of a crime in this novel set in Alabama during the Great Depression.

This story is narrated by “Scout,” Atticus’ daughter. Looking at the evidence, her dad pokes holes in the argument and testimony of those accusing his client of the crime. In reality, prejudice and injustice are on trial.

Protecting the innocent is a theme woven throughout the book through the characters: Atticus, Scout, Jem, Tom, and Boo.

Books with Values

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The main character (Little Prince) is on a planetary quest for what is really important. At his seventh stop, Earth, he meets an aviator who crash-landed in the desert. They become friends.

As they get to know each other, the Little Prince tells the aviator his story of living on an asteroid and leaving home after becoming frustrated with his prideful flower friend. As a result, he has traveled the universe and visited people and planets along the way.

The moral takeaways come from the interesting characters the Little Prince meets during his celestial journey. The book’s themes include friendship, love, and what’s really important.

The latter theme comes from the fox. He tells the Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

In contrast, The Little Prince meets a businessman who says, “I am busy with matters of consequence!” This philosophical book raises questions such as “What is really important?”

The Giver by Lois Lowry
In this book, Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy, is the protagonist who wrestles with what society should look like. This book asks some moral questions about the seemingly perfect society where he lives. Is it okay to ask questions? If society is peaceful, is it that way because no one asks questions? Should we live with the status quo or not?

In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
Before the WWJD phrase and bracelets became popular in the 1990s, author Charles Sheldon asked the same question in his 1896 book: “What would Jesus do?” The book challenges the reader to see what changes they make when they apply Jesus’ teachings to their lives.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This story is about four children who enter the land of Narnia through the back of a closet. The title sums up the story’s conflict: the good lion versus the evil witch. Aslan, the lion, and Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund fight against the White Witch, Jadis.

The second book in The Chronicles of Narnia series offers high school and college students the opportunity to examine things in their lives that could be harmful to them. In this book, the Turkish Delight candy metaphor illustrates temptation. Edmund betrays his friends and Aslan because he succumbs to the temptation.

The wardrobe metaphor could represent what character qualities you will put on? How will you live?

Night by Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel describes his story of being taken to Auschwitz concentration camp as a teenager with the rest of his family. His parents and one of his sisters didn’t survive. This story should be read and remembered so genocide atrocities are not repeated. Unfortunately, some people doubt the Holocaust happened, and that is why students should read this and have the truth etched in their minds so they can take a stand against evil. This trilogy includes Night, Dawn, and Day.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Santiago, a young Spanish shepherd, sets out for Egypt after his recurring dream. During his quest, Santiago finds what’s really important in life. Life lessons include taking risks, overcoming obstacles, and persevering when you fall.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (The abridged version)
Goldman adapted S. Morgenstern’s book of the same name by including only the ‘good parts’ like his father had read to him as a child. The Princess Bride mixes silly humor, action, adventure, and romance. One English class that offered this book as an assignment had a high engagement rate among the students. One of the book’s themes is the power of love and commitment.

About the Author

Rich Atkinson

Rich Atkinson began his writing career with a community paper in Ohio.

He has worked for a magazine. Travel assignments have taken him outside the country to Haiti and Guatemala. In the U.S., he has journeyed to Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee, and many other places for feature stories.

When not writing, Rich finds time to read and enjoys listening to authors discuss writing on podcasts and in YouTube videos.

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