The best parable books that teach valuable lessons

Why am I passionate about this?

The role of the parable is an important one to help understand the roots of right and wrong. We live in such a fractured and untrusting world, that I think it’s important to rediscover the simple truths of honesty and integrity over-ambition, and the pursuit of power for its own sake. And so, I have an interest in the topic because I am a citizen hoping for a better world, and an expertise in the subject because I’m a father raising two children in that same fractious environment.


I wrote...

The Lying King

By Alex Beard,

Book cover of The Lying King

What is my book about?

The Lying King is a fable about an ambitious warthog, who lies his way to the top of the animal kingdom only to fall from grace caught in the web of his own lies. The book is a modern parable about what happens to those who tell lies to advance their own nefarious purposes, and while not overtly political, it does take a clear stand against those who deceive and divide.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Yertle the Turtle

Alex Beard Why did I love 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.

By Dr. Seuss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yertle the Turtle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

In this hilarious book, featuring three timeless fables, Dr. Seuss explores the pitfalls of growing too big for your boots!

King Yertle the Turtle soon learns the pitfalls of becoming too big for your boots, in the first tale in this hilarious trio of classic Dr. Seuss fables!

As part of a major rebrand programme, HarperCollins is relaunching Dr. Seuss's bestselling books, including such perennial favourites as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks. In response to consumer demand, the bright new cover designs incorporate much needed guidance on reading levels, with the standard…


Book cover of Aesop’s Fables

Alex Beard Why did I love 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!

By V.S. Vernon Jones (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aesop’s Fables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus

Alex Beard Why did I love 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!”

By Uncle Remus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic book compiling the complete tales from eight books, with the original illustrations. 

It’s been more than a hundred years since the publication of the first Uncle Remus book, and it was in 1955 that all of the delightful and inimitable tales of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and Brer Wolf were gathered together in one volume. All of the animal tales from eight books are here, along with the illustrations which originally accompanied them.

Any fan of folklore and mythology will treasure this edition.


Book cover of Animal Farm

Alex Beard Why did I love 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.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Animal Farm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The perfect edition for any Orwell enthusiasts' collection, discover Orwell's classic dystopian masterpiece beautifully reimagined by renowned street artist Shepard Fairey

'All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.'

Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the…


Book cover of Tikki Tikki Tembo

Alex Beard Why did I love 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.

By Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tikki Tikki Tembo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-
chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!

Three decades and more than one million copies later children still love hearing about the boy with the long name who fell down the well. Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent's classic re-creation of an ancient Chinese folktale has hooked legions of children, teachers, and parents, who return, generation after generation, to learn about the danger of having such an honorable name as Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.

Tikki Tikki Tembo is the winner of the 1968 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books.


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Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

Book cover of Kanazawa

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

What is my book about?

Emmitt’s plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of purchasing their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover her subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo.

In his search for a meaningful life in Japan, and after quitting his job, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English. He becomes drawn into the mysterious death of a friend of Mirai’s parents, leading him and his father-in-law to climb the mountain where the man died. There, he learns the somber truth and discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.

Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.

Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

What is this book about?

In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt's future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he's surprised to discover Mirai's subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.

Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt's search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa's most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.

While continually resisting Mirai's…


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