In today’s blog post, we are talking all about honesty! This important character trait is a skill all humans should learn, but it’s great to reinforce in kindergarten, first, and second grade! Before we dive in, you should know I made a whole video sharing this information. If you want to watch this information, just click below:
To read the information, just keep scrolling!
Now in my K-2 classrooms, I like to let students know that honesty is both speaking truthfully and acting truthfully, even when it is difficult to do so. I like to highlight both the speaking and the acting part to cover things like cheating, sneaking, and lying by omission. As with most social-emotional skills, picture books can really help students talk about these topics in a low-stakes way. They can connect with characters and scenarios in a story instead of talking about something that happened directly to them where their emotions may be heightened.
Here are 5 of my favorite picture books for teaching about honesty.
#1: The Boy Who Cried Wolf (any version of this fable):
There are many fun versions of this story (The Boy who Cried Bigfoot, The Boy who Cried Ninja, The Boy who Cried Nurse, etc.) and they all have the same moral. When you continue to lie to people over and over again, you lose their trust. Of course, in the original fable, a little boy tells people there is a wolf, and everyone panics while he laughs at them. Eventually, there really is a wolf and the little boy needs help, but when he tells everyone a wolf is there, they think he is lying based on his past.
This story emphasizes the importance of your word and how being truthful can affect not only the person talking but also those around them. Lying has consequences and this fable illustrates that perfectly.
Some of my favorite Boy Who Cried Wolf versions can be found here:
#2: The Empty Pot by Demi
In this story a young boy named Ping loved flowers. The Emperor in the story needed to choose a successor and to do so he gave all the children a seed and he wanted to see who could grow the best flower. Ping took care of his seed each day but he couldn’t grow anything from the seed. When the time came to bring forth the plants, Ping was the only one with an empty pot. He felt ashamed but his dad reminded them that as long as he tried his best, he should feel proud and share what he has done. When the Emperor saw all the other tall, beautiful plants, he was disappointed. When Ping came to him with his empty pot and explained how hard he had worked, it was then that the Emperor knew Ping was his successor.
The Emperor had given everyone spoiled seeds that could not grow and Ping was the only one who was brave and honest enough to tell the truth. This is a great story to highlight the importance of honesty. It highlights that acting honestly aspect too! The other children in the story all changed out their seeds even though they weren’t supposed to. Having the courage to come forth and be honest is a wonderful trait in a leader.
You can grab this book here >>> The Empty Pot by Demi
#3: A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts
This book is about a little boy named Ruben who doesn’t have a bike. All his friends have bikes, but he longs for one. One day Ruben is in a store and a woman drops a dollar bill from her purse. He picks it up but doesn’t run after her. It isn’t until later that he realizes that dollar bill was actually a $100 bill! He thinks about this money and how he could buy a bike like his friends. As he hides this money and holds it close, he believes he has lost it and it completely consumes his thoughts. He ends up finding that $100 bill again and heads to the store to grab something for his mom. When he is there he sees the same woman who lost the bill. He immediately feels guilty and walks over to her and returns the money.
Now I love this story for many different reasons and teaching points, but in terms of honesty, this book shares Ruben’s emotions in a relatable way. He is still disappointed when he gives her the money back because he will not be able to buy a bike, but he knows it is the right thing to do. We can have those different feelings at the same time and that is normal. He also goes home and tells everything to his parents and they are proud of him!
You can find this story here >>> A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts
#4: Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey
Now before I dive into this one, while this story is cute, I wouldn’t say this is one of the most “well-rounded” book to teach about honesty. The two stories above show a lot more sides of honesty and its importance. But if your students love Pig the Pug or are already learning about honesty through another story, this is a great one to add to the list!
In this story, Pig the Pug, keeps blaming everything on Trevor so he doesn’t get in trouble! One day, he has a plan to get some dog biscuits from way up high but he needs to lie first. So he makes up a lie that has his parents sending Trevor out of the house and while they are distracted he sneaks into the closet and grabs the treats. However, he doesn’t realize that there is a big bowling ball behind the treats and he gets a big BONK! on the head as a consequence.
This book is short and cute and touches upon blaming others which many of our students can relate to. I also like to bring up the sneakiness factor and explain that sometimes adults will put something up high or away because they know there is something dangerous up there (like the bowling ball) and we shouldn’t sneak around and grab things we know we aren’t supposed to have access to!
You can find this book here >>> Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey
This story is about a little girl named Ruthie who loves collecting teeny tiny things. One day at recess, she finds a tiny camera to add to her collection. She is so happy and loves the camera. She starts playing around with it at recess until a friend comes over to her and explains that it is his camera. Feeling defensive, Ruthie immediately says “no it’s mine!” They end up arguing and the teacher holds onto the camera until they can figure it out.
I love this story for teaching about honesty because this type of scenario is a common one in younger grades. This wasn’t some long, thought-out lie that Ruthie had. She, instead, blurted out that it was hers because she was so excited and didn’t want to give it up. She wanted it to be hers. As she sits at school all day, her lie consumes her thoughts and when she gets home she ends up telling her parents what she did. They encourage her to tell her teacher the truth and the little boy gets his camera back.
You can find this book here >>> Ruthie and the Not So Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin
There are 5 of my favorite books for teaching all about honesty! Are any of these new to you?! Do you have others you love for teaching this skill?! Let me know down in the comments!
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