(from the book)

When people first hear or read the title of this book, they want to know: Is this a children’s book?  Is it meant for me? Is it for my teens? Is it a motivational book? Is it an inspirational or faith-based book? Is it for grandparents, aunts, uncles or other loved ones? Is it a biography? Is it a work of fiction? Why did you write this book? How does it work?

The answer to all but the last two of these questions is “Yes.” But, most importantly, Tell the Children: Values Build Character is a take-action book for anyone fulfilling a parenting or teaching role. Even though the intended eventual audience of the book’s stories is children (thus their place in the title), it wasn’t written to be read by young children. Rather, the stories are meant to be read by you and then shared with your children (thus your action assignment in the title). It’s up to you to decide whether you read the words as written, or retell (recommended) the stories in your own words. Either way, when you invest the time to involve yourself and your children in the stories, you’re the one who will always be their most important hero, their favorite “storyteller.” You’ll be the one creating life-long memories and giving your children the tools necessary to build real character. That’s the way it should be!

After all these years, I can’t recall the names of the books I read as a child, but I do remember many of the stories my parents took the time to share with me. Of course, I didn’t realize that what they were really doing was carefully and lovingly selecting and cementing the building blocks that would ultimately shape and help build my character. Fortunately for me, they knew just how much storytelling enhances learning. I thank them for their wisdom.

If you were lucky enough to be read to as a child, you’ll no doubt remember that it was the animation and excitement of the reader that brought the stories to life for you. So, as you become the storyteller, be enthusiastic. It should be easy for you. There is plenty of material to work with, and witnessing your child’s excitement will become your priceless memory.  (Note to aunts, uncles, grandparents and other loved ones: these words apply to you, too—as you’ll discover in Georgia’s chapter, there’s always enough love to go around!)

I’ve intentionally used some big words and made references to things and places that may drive some of you and your children to the Internet, a globe or the dictionary. This gives you the opportunity to discover new things together and allows you to explain them in age-appropriate words while reinforcing each value along with its corresponding value statement. Again, that’s quality time you’ll be spending with your children that they will fondly remember many years from now!

As the stories take you and your children on journeys to many different countries, you’ll meet a variety of memorable (that’s the point of having created them) characters (the mentors) whose names, backgrounds and local references are accurate, or as accurate as possible. Give the alliterations a chance. They will grow on you, and your children will respond favorably from the start! Being able to remember the mentor, the country (or city) and the mentor’s occupation are ways to help your children learn and associate the value and the value statement.

Seven and eight year olds can frequently name the value associated with each mentor after a single reading. Some are able to recall the value statements almost as quickly. Older children have no difficulty remembering and repeating all of the value statements in order (The Character Compass).  The “alphabetized” sequence of the book even has children as young as five asking questions like, “Who is C?” at the end of the “B” or Bradford chapter. When you hear these words, you’ll know your child is learning!

As to why I wrote this book. First, each time I turn on the TV, listen to the radio, access the Internet, read the newspaper or merely venture out in public, I become more convinced that the biggest threat to the future of our society, the underlying cause of so many of our problems, is the continuing erosion of the very things our parents and grandparents held so dear—our values. The simple truth is that integrity, ethical behavior, positive decision-making and an unwavering commitment to principles (all evident in people possessing true “character”) can only be built on a foundation of strong values.

Unfortunately, today’s all-consuming hectic pace of life minimizes the opportunities we have to spend quality time teaching our children the things that will help them grow up to be all that we envision for them. One day, the future will be in their hands, but today their future is in your hands!

We all know that identifying a problem without offering a solution won’t change a thing. Positive change requires that we take positive action! Thus, I wrote this book to give you tools that will help you help your children—right now! When you involve your children in the book’s stories and lessons, you can be confident that they will enjoy the lifetime of benefits that invariably flow to those who know how to be the positive “example.”

Be patient, and plan on coming back often. There is no need to rush through, especially if your interest is in “developing” your child. Each mentor in the book is associated with a particular value, followed by a value statement. A chapter in a single reading may provide plenty to think and talk about for a few days. Remember, children like to get to know their “new friends,” so revisiting the stories and asking, “What would Alicia say?” or “How do you think Hanalani (or Pedro, Leisel, Sadiki or Junichi, etc.) would handle that and why?” encourages discussion and gets them thinking. The more curious and engaged your child becomes, the more he or she will be internalizing the book’s lessons. Whenever you can, be sure to supplement the stories with examples from your own experiences. This will help reinforce the book’s lessons and the “personalization” may well be what your child remembers years from now.

As you progress through the book, your children will quite naturally be drawn to favorite “friends,” but it’s up to you to be sure they understand (Vy says it best!) that it takes acceptance of and dedication to a variety of values to create the points on a strong moral compass. Leaders with a values-based clear sense of direction and the courage to stand by their convictions are imperatives for a better tomorrow. We can and must do everything we can to make that happen!

Enjoy the book’s stories and journeys and if, along the way, you find that the messages are speaking directly to you, take heart. Remember, regardless of age, you are one of “the children.”

Go to: Introduction