Just a coincidental juxtaposition of three articles that interestingly all deal in different aspects of how children are socialized and the possible role that books and reading play in that process. While I don't believe children can learn manners from books, they have to see it expected, practised, and reinforced around them, and I do believe books can make that process easier or more difficult by being consistent or not in demonstrating that manners matter.
The first article is from today's New York Times, January 13, 2009 by Dr. Perri Klass, Making Room for Miss Manners is a Parenting Basic.
The second article is from the December 18th, 2008 Economist, A Very European Hero about Herge's Tintin who turns 90 this year and who in part was originally created to reinforce certain admired personal behavioral attributes.
And finally an article by Dr. Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal, lamenting the passing of an older generation's quintessential "Britishness" in an article, The Quivering Upper Lip.
Through each of these articles runs a quiet desire that we improve the means by which we inculcate in our children the positive behaviours that not only benefit them but also the community to which they belong. There is also the less than explicit message that books can play a role in reinforcing those desired behaviors.