Teaching Character Through Literature: Humility - SLO Classical Academy
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Teaching Character Through Literature: Humility

Today we have more on our Character Trait of the Month – Humility. My family and I (Wei) have been watching the Winter Olympics and it has been really interesting to talk about character in the midst of competition. Even though these athletes have gone through grueling training schedules and travel in the midst of a global pandemic, it is heartwarming to see their humility in cheering other athletes on, and graciousness when misfortune comes their way. Today we have some literature on Humility curated by our SLOCA librarians. Look for them in The Den and in our library!

As a reminder,

Humility: Knowing, accepting, and being who we are while demonstrating modesty about our accomplishments and gifts, admitting mistakes, and valuing others for who they are and for their input.

Catch Phrase: Admit mistakes and cheer others on.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

These three modern classic fables focus on pride (Yertle the Turtle), vanity (Gertrude McFuzz), and boasting (The Big Brag). For ages 3 and up.

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable by Oliver Jeffers

A story about a selfish man who sets out to prove that he is the boss of everything. “You are mine,” Fausto said to the flower, the sheep, and the mountain, and they all bowed before him. But they were not enough for Fausto, so he conquered a boat and set out to sea. For ages 4 and up.

The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton

A well-known tale about how the vain emperor learns a lesson in humility, as only Hans Christian Andersen can tell it. Any version of this story will do, but one of our favorites is illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton, creator of such favorites as Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, and Katy and the Big Snow. For ages 4 and up.

The Tower: A Story of Humility by Richard Paul Evans

As the title suggests, the purpose of this book is to teach about humility. Set in ancient China, a young man builds a high tower in the hopes of making himself great, only to discover how wrong he is. Through meeting a wise old woman he learns, ”To be great is not to be higher than another, but to lift another higher.” For ages 4 and up.

The Tiger and the Brahmin by Brian Gleeson, illustrated by Kurt Vargo.

“I give you assurances,” cried the Tiger to the Brahmin. “I shan’t eat you if you let me out of the cage.” But when the Brahmin makes the mistake of taking the Tiger at his word, he discovers that the dishonest beast intended to eat him all along. The lowly jackal, whom everyone scorns, is the one who saves the Brahmin. This picture book is a charming version of a beloved folktale from India. The award-winning audio version is narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley with original music by Ravi Shankar, part of the Rabbit Ears series “We All Have Tales.” For ages 5 and up.

Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by David Diaz

The story of Saint Martin de Porres, beautifully rendered by an award-winning author and a Caldecott-winning artist. Born into extreme poverty, Martin was the illegitimate child of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave. Barred from the priesthood, he joined the Dominican order as a servant instead. Soon he was performing miracles and healing nobles and beggars alike. The humility and faith of this gentleman overcame the racial and economic prejudice of 17th century Peru. For ages 6 and up.

The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills

Minna, a young Appalachian girl, wants to attend school, but she doesn’t have a coat. Her father has just died and her family cannot afford one. When a group of mothers who gather at her house regularly to make quilts hear of her problem, they decide to help her. Minna is thrilled, but when the new coat is finished and she wears it to the one-room schoolhouse, she is teased by her classmates for wearing rags. Minna is hurt, but she eventually gains their interest when she explains that her coat is full of stories–their stories–for each scrap has come from one of their homes. For ages 6 and up.

The Legend of the Beaver’s Tail by Stephanie Shaw

This is a retelling of an Ojibwe legend, about how Beaver once had a fluffy, soft tail that made him so prideful he drove away his friends. Learn how his vanity eventually results in a flattened tail. For ages 7 and up.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Edward Tulane is a china rabbit with a very high opinion of himself. He lives in a nice home and is adored by a little girl named Abilene, who takes very good care of him. But one day, Edward is lost. Edward makes an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, fragile Edward discovers that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again. Featuring beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline. For ages 8 and up.

A Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Shasta is not too surprised to learn that he has sold been sold as a slave to a nobleman. But he is surprised to find that the nobleman’s horse can talk! Bree is proud to be from Narnia– not “dumb and witless” like ordinary horses. Bree persuades Shasta to ride North with him, to the land of Narnia, ruled by King Peter and Queen Susan. Traveling across the harsh desert, the horse and his boy join forces with Aravis, yet another runaway, and her talking horse, Hwin. All they want is to escape a life of servitude. But the four find themselves at the center of a terrible conflict, one that will decide the fate of Narnia itself. Will they succeed in their mission, or will all be undone by Bree’s vanity and Aravis’ arrogance? For ages 8 and up.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

This award-winning novel for middle schoolers is set during the Depression in the 1930s and follows a wealthy Mexican girl’s fall from riches. Esperanza must adjust to a much humbler lifestyle as an immigrant farmworker in California, and find a way to overcome her difficult circumstances. For ages 8 and up.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Set in Regency England, this classic novel follows Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bennet, the second of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s five unmarried daughters. Everyone in their village is abuzz when Mr. Bingley moves into the neighborhood, accompanied by his friend, Mr. Darcy—two young, handsome, wealthy bachelors. Mr. Bingley and the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, are immediately attracted to one another, and their path seems smooth. Meanwhile, Lizzy finds Mr. Darcy arrogant and insufferable and prefers the gentle manners of Wickham. Lizzy has a lot to learn about pride and about prejudice – as does Mr. Darcy! For ages 14 and up.

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