The best parable books that teach valuable lessons

The Books I Picked & Why

Yertle the Turtle

By Dr. Seuss

Book cover of Yertle the Turtle

Why this book?

Dr. Seuss is the master of the parable. Yertle the Turtle is a classic example of an illustrated picture book with a point about the pitfalls of unbridled ambition, and while I chose this book to highlight, The Lorax is another great example of a story with an equally consequential moral.

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Aesop’s Fables

By V.S. Vernon Jones

Book cover of Aesop’s Fables

Why this book?

There is no better teller of parables than Aesop. Each of his stories carries the weight of its moral in an easily understood and digestible manner. Just because they were written millennia ago doesn’t mean they aren’t relatable and relevant today. I also love Aesop’s Fables because they inspire and activate my imagination. Being a full-time artist, looking for inspiration around every corner, that’s important!

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The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus

By Uncle Remus

Book cover of The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus

Why this book?

This recommendation might be construed by some as dated and possibly insensitive, but the wisdom of the trickster derived from African folktales in the Antebellum Deep South are worth consideration. The story of the Tar Baby is ubiquitous, and teaches to respect brains over brawn…“What ever you do, don’t throw me in the briar patch!”

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Animal Farm

By George Orwell

Book cover of Animal Farm

Why this book?

For some, this book is too advanced and adult for children, but I disagree. There are good versions with illustrations (most notable by Ralph Steadman) that make for the perfect book to read to a slightly older child. I read this to my own son when he was about 7, and he both loved the story and our rudimentary discussions about what it was really about.

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Tikki Tikki Tembo

By Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent

Book cover of Tikki Tikki Tembo

Why this book?

This is another book that some might find problematic, in that it is clearly a caricature of an old Imperial Chinese village, but the rhyming wordplay in Tikki Tikki Tembo’s name is delightful, and the moral of Brother Chang’s worth and value is an important one for anyone with a child looking to step out of the shadow of an older sibling.

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