As long as you’re sitting down together to help Johnny learn to read, you might as well make sure that the stories are communicating important virtues that are often overlooked at school, play, sports, and... even at home.

It's easy to get busy dealing with the everyday minutiae of living so spending some time reading and talking about what's really important is a way to teach and share a critical element to the development of children. Listed here are some of my top reading picks for parents and children on the topic of virture:

Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing by Michele Borba, Ed.D

Television, games, the Internet, peers and other forces shape children's morality, but it is parents who provide the most enduring modeling and instruction. Kids, asserts Borba, should be fortified against the onslaught of increasingly negative cultural influences like violent video games and nasty music lyrics by parental involvement and guidance. The book describes an epidemic deficiency in the moral development of American kids and outlines seven virtues - Empathy, Conscience, Self-Control, Respect, Kindness, Tolerance and Fairness - to be engendered in children.

365 Manners Kids Should Know – Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Etiquette by Sheryl Eberly

Have you ever cringed at the sight of your four-year-old waltzing through the neighbor’s front door without an invitation? Have you ever had to call to apologize when your six-year-old forgot to thank his grandmother for the birthday gift she so lovingly sent?  As a parent, you’ve probably experienced these and many more instances when it seemed that your children had forgotten their manners completely, leaving you frazzled and embarrassed. Look here for ideas to make effective changes.

Dude,That’s Rude by Pamela Epeland

Full-color cartoons and kid-friendly text teach the basics of polite behavior in all kinds of situations while keeping young readers entertained on every page. Kids learn Power Words to use and P.U. Words to avoid, why their family deserves their best manners, how to yawn, how to burp, how to meet new people, and more.

Speak Up and Get Along! Learn the Mighty Might, Thought Chop and More Tools to Make Friends, Stop Teasing, and Feel Good About Yourself  by Scott Cooper

What if every kid had a handy toolbox of ways to get along with others? That’s just what this book is: a collection of 21 concrete strategies kids can pull out and use to express themselves, build relationships, end arguments and fights, halt bullying, and beat unhappy feelings. A terrific resource for any young person—and any adult committed to teaching social skills. Includes a note to adults.

What Do You Stand For? For Kids: A Guide to Building Character by Barbara A. Lewis

True stories, inspiring quotations, thought-provoking dilemmas, and activities help elementary school children build positive character traits including caring, fairness, respect, and responsibility.

It’s Up To You… What Do You Do? By Sandra McLeod Humphrey

This is an interactive book about moral choices for ages 8 and up. There are 25 stories about moral dilemmas and the reader is asked what he or she would do in that situation. Each story is also followed by thought questions that stimulate great discussions both in the home and in the classroom.

So the next time you reach for a book to read to your child, consider sharing virtue - we certainly could use a little more of it in the world today.

Comment here to share your favorite ideas for teaching or books for teaching virtue.