If you're a parent, and you also have a modicum of social responsibility in your makeup, you probably have had worries and wonderings about how on earth you are going to raise moral and responsible human beings in this modern world where morality is determined by emotionalism and sexual predators and drug dealers lurk at every candy store.
When I was a kid, my parents bought us a tape series from Brite music called "Standin' Tall." Also from the same company, they bought two tapes called "Safety Kids." They came with colourable story books that were well-drawn. I listened to them over and over and coloured the pictures with the greatest care. Now, my kids also love them (fortunately, my brother and I left them some pictures to colour!)--and, surprisingly, I also appreciate their quality as an adult, even though they were recorded over twenty years ago.
I was thrilled to find out today that these are still available from Brite , and that they have other resources that I have yet to tap! Here is a review of the ones I am experienced with, just for you, my loyal blog readers.
The Standin' Tall series (which now includes a couple of board games, from the looks of it) covers twelve basic values in a fun, engaging way, using stories and songs. The main characters are children, in a variety of scenarios that teach them about the values in each book/CD. The recording is high-quality, and the songs are recorded using real instruments, not synthesized substitutes. I still find myself humming these catchy little tunes as I go about my day. (You can preview the songs by going to the website.)
You can choose from listening to the whole story with all the parts, or listening to the story with one of the parts not being read, which the child can then read themselves, "participating" in the story. The books are laid out like a script on one side (with the "readable" part indicated in bold) and an engaging line drawing on the other side of each two-page spread.
Book 1: Obedience
The boy and girl in this story get to take a train trip to the Land of Obey, where Mr. Did helps them learn how much fun and how rewarding it is to obey parents, teachers, and other authorities, as well as the rules of society. When they refuse to go in at the recess bell and walk on the grass, they are instantly transported outside it's gates, where Mr. Didn't shows them around, and they see the terrible results of chaos--a world where no one follows the rules. Mr. Did also tells them the story of "The Little Pig With the Curly Tail."
Book 2: Honesty
It is difficult to be honest, especially when you know you will get in trouble for it. The girl in this book learns that honesty has it's own reward, as she 'fesses up to breaking a neighbour's window with her baseball, and also takes extra change back into a store after buying a doughnut. As she gains a reputation for honesty, it pays off when the teacher tries to nail her for cheating on a test and a fellow student stands up for her. Includes a song about lies that was featured on a Church of Latter Day Saints commercial about 15 years ago.
Book 3: Forgiveness
Max gets to play in a movie where the character learns the benefits of forgiveness. He learns that unforgiveness held inside festers and hurts us. He also learns the benefit of forgiving not only others, but himself.
Book 4: Work
The Genie of Work shows the boy in this tape around, showing him where the stuff we use everyday comes from, as well as the value of work.
Book 5: Courage
The boy in this story dreams of fighting dragons and rescuing fair maidens, but discovers that real-life courage can be even harder, and also harder to recognize. He is sent on a quest to fill up his badge with jewels for courage, and along the way overcomes his fear of the dark and peer pressure.
Book 6: Happiness
The spoiled princess in this story is always miserable. Her doting father, trying to make her happy, first gets her a magic dress that will become any gown she desires, and then a magic toybox that will produce any plaything she wants--even a pony! Then she is miserable because no one can get her anything for her birthday. Her wise nurse eventually helps her to learn that it is not what we have that brings us happiness, but what we do for others.
Book 7: Gratitude
Meet Mr. Badger and Mr. Bear, two kindly souls who work for the confirmed ingrate Mr. Rabbit, who will take no help from anyone. He meets his match, though, when he is saved (against his will) from freezing to death, and finds gratitude bursting from his heart. Also includes the story of Susie, a good but ungrateful girl who never says "thank you" or shows appreciation for anything her family does for her, until they stop doing it and she learns her lesson.
Book 8: Love
A classroom of kids each share what love means to them, and as they discuss their drawing, the whole class is pulled into their picture. Discusses the many expressions of love, from caring for your pet, to caring for the earth, to romantic love, to God's love.
Book 9: Service
The brother and sister in this story get a vivid example of love when their mother makes dinner--and then they carry it over to a family going through a hard time. After this, they start to get excited about service, and start to see how many ways they can serve others. They learn about volunteers, and how serving others shows that you love them--that is why it is important to serve people in your family, as well as others.
Book 10: Cleanliness
This was my favourite story as a child, and now it is my children's. This book is full of cute and lovable "Scrubbits", who sing their way through every page and a different body part to keep clean--including your brain!
Book 11: Self-Esteem
Join Emily and Mark, a girl and a boy who both think they have no friends. Mark goes on a search through the whole zoo for his friend, with the help of a funny parrot, helping all the other animals see past their faults to the good in them, until he finally realizes that he has a friend in himself. This story, which is being told to Emily, also helps her to realize that she should find the good in herself instead of focusing on the mistakes.
Book 12: Dependability
Reggie and Kate don't think it is that important to be dependable, until they are pulled into a story on board a star ship as Prince Reggie and Princess Kate, where their life depends on Captain Dependable, a real superhero-type. Unfortunately, the captain is sabotaged by Professor Un, who uses Procrastinite on him in order to take over the ship. He almost succeeds, but Reggie and Kate help Captain Dependable return to his previous, dependable ways, saving the whole ship and foiling Professor Un's plans. Reggie and Kate never take being punctual, reliable, and dependable lightly again.
I only have the first two volumes of this set, but I am so thankful that my parents got them. I was never tempted to try drugs, and I knew exactly what to do if I got lost in a store.
The Safety Kids are a club that meets to discuss ways they can stay safe. They cover a variety of ethnicities, and range in age from about 5 to 12. The songs, as with the Standin' Tall series, are well-written and arranged, and darn catchy.
Book 1: "We're the Safety Kids"
Covers the basic safety rules, such as some basic "don't"s (Never talk to strangers, don't go places alone, don't go places where no one knows you are, etc.), as well as some great "do"s, with accompanying songs to help the kids remember them: "Use the buddy system when going to the bathroom." "Memorize your telephone number." "I'm in charge of me." "Remember your personal space--don't let someone else do something to you that makes you uncomfortable." "Look for a Grandma or Mother with children if you get lost in a public place." "Know when you just gotta yell and scream."
Book 2: "Stay Safe From Drugs"
I particularly loved this one, and my kids do, too. I think it is the songs--they are really fun. One of the Safety Kids, Zach, has a bad experience when his best friend starts taking drugs and tries to force them on him, too. The Safety Kids decide to go and find out one way each that they can stay safe from drugs, and then report them to everyone else. They learn 5 ways to stay safe:
- If you don't like how you are feeling, change it, but naturally, not chemically.
- Don't give in to peer pressure.
- All you gotta say is "No!"
- Respect your body. Give your genes a chance to make you all you can be.
- Believe in yourself--you're worth it!
Book 3: "Protecting Their Minds"
The website gives this overview of this one:
The Safety Kids will teach your children how to guard against the devastating effects of pornography. It's a big, bright, beautiful world and with the Safety Kids' help, we can keep it that way.
As I said, I don't have this one. They must have introduced it since I was a kid. But I want it!
Needless to say, I highly recommend these--they are great for in the vehicle, when the kids have nothing else to do. The best part is, these are so fun, they do not even know they are learning a moral lesson!
All the best in your own parenting adventures!
Edit: I just noticed that as of June 1, 2010, Brite is no longer producing the books and CDs--these sets are only going to be available while supplies last. However, there will be digital versions available indefinitely. If you want to buy the set, get over there now!