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Manners aren’t something that children develop over time. Good manners are something we always want to implement in our children, primarily at a young age. Young children are easily susceptible to words, phrases, and behaviors, especially from you as their parent. It’s our duty to make sure that our kids have the resources they need to make it in life.
Good manners may seem like a small aspect of being successful, but they really do come into play in every day life. Things like thanking people who serve us (lunch lady, waiters, cashiers, teachers, etc.), learning when to apologize, and simply how to be respectful are all small but important ways we use our manners in day-to-day life.
Ever heard the phrase, “monkey see, monkey do”? Kids learn how to behave mostly by influence from their parents. How we decide to teach them, is up to us. We can fight to teach them ourselves, or we can use tools to help us. Books and stories are incredibly helpful in this regard, because they help your child remember important messages in a fun and easy-access way!
There’s tons of books out there that cover everything a child could ever want to learn, and then some. It can be a bit overwhelming, so I’ve compiled a list of my 12 favorite books to help teach kids manners.
1. Excuse Me: A Little Book of Manners by Karen Katz
Covering mostly “please’s” and “excuse you’s” hidden inside page flaps, the repetitive nature of this colorful book makes it easy for kiddos to remember the simpler magic words. From burping to learning how to say, “no thank you,” this book covers the simple, essential manners.
2. Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller
When a family of otters moves in next door, Mr. Rabbit doesn’t know how to act. He’s never met any otters before, and doesn’t know what to do. Mr. Owl wisely advises him to treat the family of otters the same way he’d like them to treat him. Covering the golden rule, this book playfully teaches kids how to be a good friend.
3. Margaret Wise Brown’s Manners by Margaret Wise Brown
Written by the same author as Goodnight Moon, this book of manners compares being polite and being impolite side-by-side for an easy to understand lesson on everyday manners. In this book, Margaret covers things like walking into a room, waiting in line, eating at the table, and even how to treat animals in a fun, approachable way. This book makes learning how to, and how not to act, an easy and fun experience for children of all ages.
4. Manners Are Not for Monkeys by Heather Tekavec
This book puts a fun spin on the term, “monkey see, monkey do.” When the old zookeeper decides to move the mama and baby monkeys by the picnic and play areas of the zoo, the baby monkeys form an interest in the human kids. They begin to observe how the human children eat quietly, play gently, and behave well. Then, they start behaving the same! Mama monkey is concerned with their newfound good manners, and remarks, “Manners are not for monkeys!” A fun perspective on manners, this book flip-flops the usual how-to-behave plot, and offers parents a unique conversation starter with their kids about social skills and self-control.
5. Do I Have to Say Hello? Aunt Delia’s Quiz for Kids and Their Grownups by Delia Ephron
Truly set up in the style of a quiz, this book offers a series of multiple choice questions, true or false answers, and alternate scenarios that let your child choose how they want to respond. The nifty part about this is, all of the answers are ridiculous except for one or two. This makes it relatively easy for your child to discern what the correct answer is. There’s a silly set-up for almost everything; table manners, respect yourself manners, school manners, playground manners, and even giving compliments. This book is such a silly and fun way to visualize and learn how (not) to act.
6. Dude, That’s Rude! by Pamela Espeland
Dude, That’s Rude! is a fun and easily understandable textbook to manners. Covering pretty much every good word and nice phrase your child will ever use, this book offers a hilarious lesson on how to behave. From manners about gifting and giving presents, to body manners, to power words and p-u words, this book covers everything in a kid-relatable way.
7. How to Behave and Why by Munro Leaf
A true classic, How to Behave and Why is a very simple guide to honesty, fairness, strength, and wisdom. First published in 1946, the ideals in this book are written to withstand time. A lot of things have changed since 1946, but basic manners thankfully aren’t one of them. As the very first page states, “…It doesn’t matter whether you are a boy or a girl, a man or a woman – the rules are all the same.” I couldn’t have said it better or more simply myself. Illustrated with childish cartoons, this book is oriented towards younger children, but has a clear message for us all.
8. Manners in Public by Carrie Lynn Finn
The fun and colorful illustrations in this book help guide children through public manners. This book covers things like when to say “excuse me”, “please”, and “thank you”, to teaching respect for someone else’s property. Overall, this book is an amazing guide to using manners in public.
9. Please Say Please, Grumpy Bunny! by Justine K. Fontes
“Please” has always been considered an important word to use. Nowadays, at least in my experience, the word “please” is used so scarcely, we run the risk of raising an entire generation that doesn’t know what the word means. Fortunately, Grumpy Bunny sees how happy using the word “please” makes people, and decides to keep using it! This book will surely teach your kids the importance of saying please, and the reactions they get when they do.
10. Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney
Llama Llama is one of the most loved characters in our house. We watch the Llama Llama TV show all the time, and walk away each time with a brand new lesson to apply to life. Whether it’s sharing, being respectful, or saying please, we always learn something meaningful in a fun way. What I like the most about Llama Llama, is the lessons aren’t always learned in an easy, care-free way. In the case of Llama Llama Time to Share, Llama Llama does a good job sharing with Nelly Gnu, until his favorite stuffed toy becomes involved, and ends up getting torn in two. Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get into a fight, and Mama Llama has to interject and take Fuzzy Llama away “until you’re sure you can share.” A tough lesson to learn, but an important one!
11. Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook
Personal space is definitely something very important for your child to learn. No one likes a person who is always crowding their personal space, or someone who gives unsolicited hugs. It’s also important to learn so your child knows when someone is making them feel uncomfortable, they can say “no” or move into a different space. Personal Space Camp follows space expert Louis around the classroom as he causes mayhem. He’s delighted to learn that his teacher has sent him to the principal’s office to attend personal space camp, but Louis soon realizes that he has a lot to learn about personal space. Fun and witty, Personal Space Camp is sure to give your child a good lesson in what personal space means to themselves, and to other people.
12. The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners by Stan Berenstain, and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears are such a classic series. I’ve been reading their books ever since I was a child. From the unique and classy illustrations, to the fun and family friendly messages, these books are an amazing educational addition to your child’s book collection. In this particular book, Papa, Sister, and Brother have forgotten to use their manners, and it’s up to Mama to remind them how to act properly. From forgetting to say please and thank you, to table manners, to name-calling, Mama kindly reminds us all how to behave properly.
There’s no doubt in my mind that children need to be raised with good manners, and books are an amazing secondhand way to do that. Books are extremely educational, and teach a variety of different topics and lessons. Educational toys are also a really vital part of raising a smart child. Check out my post on 10 Best Educational Toys for Kids 2-5. Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments some of your favorite books to read to your kid(s)!