Ethical, Ecological, Exciting Children’s Stories!

older child reading a bookMy daughter loves books. From an early age our evenings were spent telling stories around the fire. Even now, when my daughter is feeling under the weather or wants some reassurance, a cuddle infront of the fire while I tell a story is one of her favourite things to do.

We started with a Steiner based education which encourages children to learn to read not when they are four, but when they are seven. This felt right to me, after all, there is plenty of time to fill a child’s delicate brain with information …

Our plans of a complete Steiner education changed however, and at the age of 5 my daughter went to a small, local, village school. She got on brilliantly and loved every minute of her reception year. Her teacher was wonderful; a real earth mother and my daughter learned how to count and read without even realising she was ‘doing work’ – the emphasis was on fun and boy did she learn! I only sent her there to have fun and meet some new friends, the learning was a positive side effect.

From the moment she could read, my daughter has been hungry for more and more words. I’ve had a few challenges with her love of reading, most notably:

1- Finding books with subject matter that is ok for her emotional years when her reading age is probably 2 or more years above her biological age
2- Tears in the library when she can’t find ‘anything new’ to read
3- Being the worst Mummy in the world if all books have been read and the library isn’t open today
4- Not being able to get up in the morning because she’s been reading past midnight …

Not that bad really is it?

However, my biggest challenge has been finding ‘nice’ books now she is older. I want ones with sensitive subject material in a world of teenage pregnancies, disrespect for others, arguments, bullying, divorce, death, drugs, suicide, gangs and street kids – one can argue it is ‘real life’ for our 21st century kids, but don’t we all need books and films to ‘escape’ with sometimes?

As a toddler we had numerous beautiful books about fairies, nature spirits, believing in ourselves, good body images, beautiful friendships, community life and connectivity with the earth and now, when her body is beginning to change and she’s inevitably feeling more disconnected from everything, my daughter is thrown into a world of boyfriends, kissing, trainer bras and spots for reading material.

With the best intentions in the world, my story telling isn’t as frequent as it used to be either, so imagine my daughter’s delight when she found story cds in the library! I can hear her giggling at silly o’clock as the children from the world of Enid Blyton get up to mischief or as Slinky Malinky is caught stealing something again. I came across something in this month’s Green Parent magazine too, which made my heart sing! The advert says “Talking books on cds for children encouraging respect for the earth – exciting magical stories for all ages”. So maybe my call to the Universe has been answered after all! You can check them out too with Cara Louise.

What about you – any favourite books with a positive message for older girls that you can recommend?


  1. Goo on September 20, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    When I was your daughter’s age I very much enjoyed Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking sagas, my daughter loved them too – slightly anarchic but a world in which imagination has not been rendered redundant by modern life. Another real favourite was Tove Jansson’s Finn Family Moomintroll series whose fantastic characters live a charming and magical life in tune with nature. Bjork did the music for the upcoming film of the Moomins – which apparently has a very strong environmental message.

  2. Rafdaddy on April 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

    It’s amazing how different families can have such similar experiences. We put a strong emphasis on reading in our family. Reading every day is a strict rule in our home. But we also got into the routine of telling bedtime stories. I would make up stories to tell them many nights before bed. Seeing my boys (now 8 and 12 yrs old) move beyond simple children’s books and stories, with clear ethical or moral messages can be sad. It was for me. It’s saying goodbye to a part of childhood to which they can never return. Kind of like little Jackie Draper saying goodbye to Puff the Magic Dragon. What is the message in Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Sure they’re great fun books/series, but not the same as the early childhood stories.

    But there is a rewarding part to it as well. As my kids were getting bigger, they started having ideas of their own. Soon enough, they were helping to tell the bedtime stories. I realized that shifting to an interactive activity can maintain the connection to moral and ethical messages. At one point my sons asked me to help turn one of our favorite made-up bedtime stories into a movie or book. It’s about a boy who overcame bullies and being bullied. After two years we finally finished the first story Puddle Boy in video book format. Check it out.

    Now my sons want me to help them create more video book stories. So I’m guiding them to include strong moral and ethical themes. I think they get it. I can’t wait to see how their stories will turn out.

  3. Mrs Green on April 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @Rafdaddy: What a lovely idea Rafdaddy; thanks for sharing your inspiration and video with us 🙂