Children's Stories About Responsibility

Child smiling in front of book
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Teaching your child values is not an easy task. Children’s stories may help, if you know how to choose them and adapt them to your child’s age. From fables and fairy tales to modern popular psychology for kids, all these stories intrigue children’s imagination and teach them values and responsible behavior. The undying classics never fail to bring the lesson home.

1 The Little Prince

One of the most popular children’s novellas ever, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince” has a breathtaking storyline that will both hold your child’s attention and teach him life values, responsibility included. The little prince meets the narrator after he crashes in the Sahara desert. Chapters include many drawings and lots of marginal characters, whose dialogues offer wisdom to children and parents alike. An example that illustrates the responsibility lesson comes through a response of a fox that the prince meets when leaving the Sahara desert. "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

2 The Happy Prince

Like Saint-Exupéry, Oscar Wilde is also known for his profound wisdom. However, unlike Saint-Exupéry, Wilde offers lots of irony and sarcasm, which only underline the point in his stories. “The Happy Prince” tells of a swallow and a statue of the happy prince. Together they bring happiness to poor citizens. In the end, that costs the prince his beauty and position and the swallow his life. Sad and engrossing, this story teaches children the highest values in life: love, sharing and responsibility. The little bird refuses to leave the prince after he has lost his eyes: “Then the Swallow came back to the Prince. ‘You are blind now,’ he said, ‘so I will stay with you always.’ ‘No, little Swallow,’ said the poor Prince, ‘you must go away to Egypt.’ ‘I will stay with you always,’ said the Swallow, and he slept at the Prince’s feet.”

3 The Little Red Hen

A classic tale of hard work and motivation, "The Little Red Hen," has been retold by many authors, but the underlying theme of responsibility appears in every version. The story features a little red hen who is planting a garden and asks for help. First she asks for help planting the wheat, but no one will help her. That theme reappears as she asks for help reaping the wheat, taking it to the mill, grinding it into flour and baking the bread. When the bread is baked, the little red hen eats all of it because she was the only one responsible enough to do the work to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

4 The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage

One of many Grimm’s fairy tales, “The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage” demonstrates responsibility in joint activities. The tale introduces partnership between a mouse, a bird and a sausage. They live together and each performs its own task: the bird fetches wood from the forest, the mouse carries water, makes the fire and sets the table and the sausage cooks. After a while, the actors exchange their duties, since “when people are too well off they always begin to long for something new.” This proves a disaster, since the sausage cannot carry wood, the mouse cannot cook and the bird cannot fetch water. The tale ends with all characters dead.

Jensen Johansson has been a freelance writer since 2006. He writes for various print and online publications, specializing in health and wellness, history, science and craft-related topics. Johansson holds Master of Science degrees in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, both from the University of Miami.