Responsibility is such an important character trait to teach to children! It's important for children’s success both in school and later on as they grow to be productive members of society. It’s our job as educators to teach students how to become more responsible so that they, in turn, become adults who demonstrate responsibility. Use children's books about responsibility as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment.
Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn. As you are reading, ask questions and engage the reader.
Here are some of the awesome children’s books about responsibility that you can use to help teach this topic to students:
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Title of Book and Author: I Promise by LeBron James
A short summary of the book: This book is about making promises to yourself to achieve your goals and dreams. Inspired by the founding of his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. James does a remarkable job pointing out the daily promises we can make to ourselves to be better students, friends, players, brothers, sisters, and citizens. This book helps to teach accountability and leadership in children, helping to promote the best version of themselves. Achieving greatness and success is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard. I Promise mentions practicing kindness, standing up for one another and being respectful. An “I Promise” checklist is included in the book that includes “going to school, doing all my homework, never giving up, and having fun” among other things.
The illustrations by Nina Mata are simply beautiful. The bright, colorful, and playful drawings are pleasing and eye-catching. Depictions of children and adults in this book are diverse with joyful, expressive faces that appeal to all.
Why I like the book: I truly enjoyed this book and found it to have a beautiful, positive message that is easy to build upon for different age levels. The simple repeating mantra of “I promise” is easy for children to comprehend and remember. This book features children of all races and is suitable for elementary school students.
The moral of the story: Keeping promises to yourself and others is important. You can rise above adversity, achieve your goals, and become the greatest version of you!
Topics covered: Accountability, self-responsibility, kindness, commitment
Title of Book and Author: Do I Have To? by Nancy Loewen
A short summary of the book: Written in the “Dear Abby…” style, this is a story narrated by Tina Truly. A 13 year old girl who loves reading “Dear Abby”, and giving advice to other kids. She has parents who do a pretty good job of explaining things and a habit of sticking her nose in other people’s business. That makes her perfect for the job of an advice giving columnist to other kids. In today’s column she talks about responsibility. Each child that writes a letter to her has a problem he or she is struggling with, and Tina answers them in her column “Dear Abby” style.
Each letter that Tina answers contains a different problem about responsibility. Some of the letters include issues on room cleaning, homework completion, hurt feelings, and a boy worried about his best friend, whose parents are going through a divorce. The advice Tina gives her readers is filled with humor, kindness and practical solutions.
Why I like the book: The difficulties children in this book face are commonly shared amongst older elementary school age students. I love how the book is written in letter format. The illustrations show a picture of each written letter, as well as an image of each child and how they are feeling.
The moral of the story: We all have struggles in our life. Taking responsibility and action can help us become better students, friends and helpers.
Topics covered: Personal responsibility, accountability, friendship
Title of Book and Author: What Should Danny Do? by Ganit & Adir Levy
A short summary of the book: Meet Danny, a superhero in training working on his power to choose. With this power, he can change his day by changing his choices. He goes through many different situations throughout his day. He does not get something he wants, his brother laughs at him when he gets hurt, and other potential conflicts. Danny has 2 choices he can make- one that will make the situation worse and one that will make it better. The reader chooses which choice Danny should make. Based on that choice, the reader is prompted what page to turn to next. The bad choices lead to consequences and discussions with his parents about making good choices. The good choices lead to parental positive praise and Danny feeling proud.
Why I like the book: This book is so interactive it is with the reader. Kids can't help but be engaged. It also makes for a fun class lesson, you can have students as a group pick which choice. Each time you read it, it could be a different story depending on the choices made. It’s beyond clever!
The moral of the story: You have the power to make good choices.
Topics covered: Self-control, impulse control, make good choices.
Title of Book and Author: My Magical Choices by Becky Cummings
A short summary of the book: The choices you make have super powers, they can cause good things to happen or bad things. You are the captain of your own ship; you steer the wheel on this magic trip (love that!). You can make good choices like being helpful, responsible, patient, confident, generous, calm, brave, forgiving, a good sport, gentle, friendly, honest, and fun. Each choice gives examples of how to make that choice. I choose to be patient, gives the example of taking your time, waiting your turn, and staying calm.
Why I like the book: This book touches on so many different topics like being responsible, patient, forgiving. The choices you make have such an impact! You could use this book with SO many lessons because of the array of topics. The best part? These books are available for free on kindle unlimited.
The moral of the story: You have the power to make good choices.
Topics covered: Self-control, impulse control, making good choices.
Title of Book and Author: But It's Not My Fault by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: A boy named Noodle feels like he is always getting blamed and picked on for things. Today Noodle is having a really rough day… but it’s not his fault! Or so he claims. This story takes us through Noodle’s day where he makes a series of wrong choices and mistakes. After each of which he exclaims, “But it’s not my fault!”. Noodle doesn’t have his homework so his teacher makes him stay in from recess to finish it. “But it’s not my fault!” he exclaims.
At the end of the day, his teacher reminds him that tomorrow will be a brand new day. When he gets home, his Mom explains to Noodle how important it is to take responsibility for your actions. The next day at school Noodle changes his tune. This time, when Noodle doesn’t have his project, he takes the time to recognize it.
Why I like the book: Noodle is a relatable character that is easy to like and understand. His teacher is kind and forgiving, and his mother gives him great advice that ties the message in the book together.
The moral of the story: The lesson in this book is clear and important for children. Learning to take responsibility for your actions is a big lesson to learn, but can also be a rewarding one. The mom in the story explains blaming others for your mistakes takes away your chances to learn from your error. This book also touches on second chances as the teacher gives Noodle another chance to finish his report after he takes responsibility for it being late.
Topics covered: Responsibility, self-awareness, positive reinforcement
Title of Book and Author: That Rule Doesn't Apply to Me! by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: A boy named Noodle struggles with having so many rules. He feels like all of the rules are getting in the way of his fun. Noodle does not think that the rules matter or really apply to him. He just wishes he could have a day without rules. Noodle’s teacher and mom try to convince him that rules are meant to help him and those around him, not hurt them or spoil the fun.
Why I like the book: This book helps teach the importance of thinking about others and the necessity of following rules in an easy-to-understand manner for children. It also highlights a very important classroom issue in a light-hearted way while promoting discussion from students.
The moral of the story: Following rules are important to help keep everyone safe.
Topics covered: Following Rules; Safety; Thinking of Others; Managing Emotions; Regulating Behaviors
Title of Book and Author: Cami Kangaroo Has Too Much Stuff by Stacy C. Bauer
A short summary of the book: Cami’s cousin is having a birthday party today. Before Cami and her family can go, her dad asks her to clean her room. Cami’s room is a mess! As she begins to clean, she becomes distracted and makes more messes as she stops to think about each of the items she sees. Cami loves to keep everything. She puts many things inside her pouch as she attempts to clean.
While cleaning, Cami remembers that she borrowed her cousin’s teddy bear. She was supposed to take it back to her today, but she cannot find it. When her dad comes in her room to check on her progress, he helps her focus on one clean up task at a time. Cami realizes that having a clean room is so much better than having a big mess. With her dad’s help, Cami finds the missing teddy bear and makes it to her cousin’s party with her family.
Why I like the book: This story is very relatable to many children with the missing toy and big mess. Cami’s dad shows grace as he gives Cami another chance to clean up. He also helps her find a way to do so without being overwhelmed or upset when needing help.
The moral of the story: Keeping our space clean and organized is responsible. Asking for help when we need it shows responsibility too.
Topics covered: Asking for Help; Cleaning Up; Taking Care of our Belongings
Title of Book and Author: Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
A short summary of the book: Oliver Jeffers dedicates this book to his son. He introduces his son to the many different aspects of the Earth. It includes the bare Earth, the aspects of the land, night and day, and animals and humans. Jeffers encourages his son to be curious and offers advice to him like “use your time well” while highlighting how wonderful the planet Earth truly is. This story introduces readers to what they can do to make the Earth a better place and reminds them that they are never actually alone.
Why I like the book: This book highlights the importance of asking questions and continuously learning about our surroundings and from people near and far.
The moral of the story: It is important to own up to your mistakes and stand up for others when they are wrongfully accused.
Topics covered: We should take care of our planet and be kind to others.
Title of Book and Author: A Little SPOT of Responsibility: A Story About Making Good Choices by Diane Alber
A short summary of the book: This story highlights Spot as he teaches children how to make good choices. He explains how making good choices helps your responsibility spot grow and, in turn, one feels more happy and confident. Early in the story, Spot explains a “Decision Chart” he has made to help children make the best decision. Spot gives examples of how to use the chart throughout the remainder of the story. He highlights different ways to help one’s responsibility spot grow such as being proactive, taking initiative, and showing kindness. Spot also encourages children to listen to adults and think about what they say before you make your choices.
Why I like the book: This book gives many examples of real-life scenarios to help students understand the concept of responsibility more easily.
The moral of the story: Making good choices helps our sense of responsibility grow.
Topics covered: Good Choices; Decision Making; Emotional Development; Helping Others; Listening to Adults
Title of Book and Author: What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick
A short summary of the book: This story is about a boy who chooses to make poor choices. He chooses things like being rude in a restaurant, speaking out of turn, and littering. Everyone the boy meets asks him, “What if everybody did that?”. Hearing this question over and over again makes the boy start to think about what really would happen if everyone chose to do things like he was. He realizes that he has been wrong. The story ends on a positive note as he comes home and hugs his mom while thinking “What if everybody did that?”. The boy decides that the world would be a better place if everyone made that decision.
Why I like the book: What if Everybody Did That? shares fourteen examples to help understand the cause and effect relationship of behaviors. This books emphasizes that we all have a role in maintaining the happiness and safety around us. This safety is in our homes, school, and neighborhoods. If we do not think about others, our surroundings can become chaotic very quickly. This book is a great tool to help introduce school and/or classroom standards and procedures at the start of the school year!
The moral of the story: Our behaviors affect others. We are each responsible for making choices that positively impact our community.
Topics covered: Community; Behaviors; Consequences; Respectfulness
You can also read this book for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
Resources about Responsibility
Pair your favorite children’s books about responsibility with these Character Education activities to make the perfect classroom lessons.
Looking for more ideas on how to incorporate responsibility in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching Responsibility in the Classroom.