Teaching integrity in the classroom is important because it helps them apply it to other aspects of their lives, and become responsible and trustworthy adults. Integrity includes being honest, trustworthy, fair, authentic, being socially responsible, having the courage to stand up for what is right, and not compromising your principles. This is why it is so critical to teach to kids. I use children’s books about integrity 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.
I often cover integrity in my lessons, I use this Character Education: Trustworthy resource that covers integrity, honesty, reliability, dependability, loyalty, and more. I also use this superhero-themed Social-emotional learning curriculum for some of my upper grades who love anything superhero. Looking for more ideas on how to teach integrity and honesty in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching Honesty in the Classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about integrity out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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Title of Book and Author: Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds
A short summary of the book: Peter H. Reynolds uses Say Something to empower children to make a change in the world around them as they use their own voices. The book is dedicated to Emma González, a young hero. Students learn that they can make a difference by communicating their words in many different ways, like speaking out, taking action, and being creative. They can use their voices to make a change when someone is hurting, misunderstood, lonely, and more.
Why I like the book: Young readers will relate to this story as the children pictured throughout this book are very diverse in their races, hair styles, and physical abilities. This story reminds readers that their voices are important and powerful! It is also easy to understand for young students.
The moral of the story: There is power in your voice; you can make a difference in your own world!
Topics covered: Making change; Taking action; Bravery
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Say Something on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The I in Integrity by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: Cora June is a little girl who cheats and breaks promises so that she will not have to do things she doesn’t enjoy. She does not take time to clean her room when told to, cheats on a test, and breaks a promise to a friend.
Her mom helps her understand the meaning and importance of integrity. After Cora June finds the integrity inside her, she is able to repair the friendships she hurt and turn her poor reputation into a positive one.
Why I like the book: This book helps students learn about integrity and what it takes to be leaders. Guided questions help adults lead productive conversations about honesty and respect with students.
The moral of the story: It’s up to each of us to choose integrity!
Topics covered: Integrity; Honesty; Empathy; Respect; Forgiveness; Parent Support
Title of Book and Author: I Promise by LeBron James
A short summary of the book: I Promise is a book 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. In the back of the book is an “I Promise” checklist that includes “going to school, doing all my homework, never giving up, and having fun” among other things.
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: By keeping promises to yourself and others, you can rise above adversity, achieve your goals, and become the greatest version of you!
Topics covered: Accountability, self-responsibility, kindness, commitment
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): I Promise on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Empty Pot by Demi
A short summary of the book: Ping works hard all year to grow a flower from a seed. He is frustrated with his failing efforts because he is passionate about growing flowers and trees. When it is time for Ping to present his flower to the Emperor, he finds himself with only an empty pot. Ping is honest with the Emperor, and to everyone’s surprise, he is rewarded and not punished.
Why I like the book: This book helps teach children that truthfulness, working hard, and being courageous are more important than lying. It also highlights the importance of always doing your best even if you don’t succeed.
The moral of the story: Do your best and be honest with yourself and others.
Topics covered: Honesty; Courage; Hard Work; Social Emotional Skills
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The Empty Pot on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
A short summary of the book: After learning to stand up for herself in Stand Up, Molly Lou Melon, Molly Lou stands up for a new friend by using her strong voice. Bettina Bonklehead teases Molly Lou and her new friend Ronald. Molly speaks up for the new student and invites him to play with her on the playground. Eventually, Molly Lou asks Bettina to be their friend too.
Why I like the book: This book is an encouraging story with a strong female protagonist. Molly Lou is a role model for students as she demonstrates how to stand firm in her beliefs and speak up for others.
The moral of the story: Be true to yourself, and don’t be afraid to stand up for others.
Topics covered: Bravery; Courage; Bullying; Friendships
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Speak up, Molly Lou Melon on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: A Bike like Sergios by Maribeth Boelts
A short summary of the book: Ruben is the only kid who does not have a bike. His friend Sergio encourages him to ask for one for his birthday. Ruben knows that his parents cannot afford a gift like this. Ruben picks up what he thinks is a dollar bill on the ground but quickly realizes that it was actually a one hundred dollar bill! Ruben must decide if he should purchase a bike to be like everyone else or find the owner of this money.
Why I like the book: This book about making right choices even when it’s hard and feels unfair is a great story to use to teach children the value of positive character traits. Maribeth Boelts does not shy away from exploring the many feelings associated with choosing to do the right thing. As a bonus, this story is also available in Spanish!
The moral of the story: It is always better to be honest and make the right choice.
Topics covered: Character Education; Honesty; Social Justice; Making Choices; Income Inequality
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): A Bike like Sergio’s on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Escape Goat by Ann Patchett
A short summary of the book: The Farmer family owns a goat who constantly escapes from the pen. Something seems to go wrong on the farm every time the goat escapes– flowers being trampled, pies burning, paint spilling, and homework not getting done. Mr. Farmer raises the gate on the pen higher each time as a result because he thinks the goat is causing all of these
issues. Nicolette begins to realize that the “escape goat” is actually wrongfully taking the blame for others’ mischief, and she tries to convince Mr. Farmer that the goat is actually innocent.
Why I like the book: The play on words and fun illustrations keeps the reader engaged throughout the story. The message of this story is gently portrayed and highlights the importance of sticking up for others.
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: Lying; Honesty; Scapegoating; Responsibility; Advocating
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Escape Goat on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Integrity Ninja by Mary Nhin
A short summary of the book: This book is about a ninja who does not tell the truth but eventually learns to keep promises and be honest.Integrity Ninja helps show others that integrity never goes out of style through easy to understand examples. Admitting mistakes is an important piece of this trait, and the little ninja demonstrates it as well.
Why I like the book: Integrity is often a hard character trait to explain to children. Mary Nhin’s short picture book helps teachers easily explain this concept to students in a fun, memorable way!
The moral of the story: Choosing integrity is always worth it.
Topics covered: Honesty; Keeping Promises; Integrity; Social Emotional Skills
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Integrity Ninja on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRR! By Rob Biddulph
A short summary of the book: Every year there is a competition to see who is the best bear in the forest, and every year Fred the grizzly bear is the champion. Fred is so proud of being the best. He spends a lot of time training alone for the competition, especially practicing his loudest growl. One day Fred woke up, and his growl was gone! New friends help Fred learn that having good friendships is better than winning and having the loudest GRRR.
Why I like the book: This interactive book allows students to emulate Fred’s GRRR and contemplate how they would feel in a similar situation. The rhyming text and colorful illustrations also keep young readers engaged.
The moral of the story: The power of friendship outweighs everything else.
Topics covered: Friendship; Loneliness; Competition
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The Grizzy bear who lost his GRRR on Amazon.
Title of Book and Author: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardeman
Short summary of the book: Verna Aardeman writes this common folktale from Ghana. Mosquito’s careless words spread fear and chaos among the creatures of the forest. It is up to King Lion to help resolve the problems that Mosquito has caused. This fable explains the chain of events that can happen as a result of one’s actions.
Why I like the book: The mosaic patterns of the illustrations in this book are colorful and add a unique quality to this children’s book. The chain format of the story is engaging as children anxiously follow along with the plot’s events.
The moral of the story: Our actions always impact those around us.
Topics covered: Community; Honesty; Consequences; Accusation; Conflict Resolution
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Why Mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears on Amazon
Resources about Integrity
Pair your favorite children’s books about integrity with these activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this Character Education: Trustworthy resource that includes everything you need to teach kids to be trustworthy, honest, and have integrity. For more ideas on how to teach integrity and honesty, check out this blog post by clicking here.
For my upper grades, this Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum is my go-to resource. It covers ethical responsibility, solving problems, evaluating, reflecting, identifying problems, and analyzing situations. This resource is an easy print-and-go or digital learning tool to pair with children’s books about social skills.
Find Books on Different Topics
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