Picture books are a great way to teach kids about good character traits, like honesty, respect, responsibility, self-control, and caring. Why? Because character traits and social skills are concepts that can be hard to explain in words kids understand. Picture books provide images and situations that help kids understand concepts about good character through a virtual experience. Books show rather than tell. Children see what behaving badly looks like and gain empathy (and conscience) because of how their actions impact others. They also see how good the characters feel when they make a good choice- connecting kids to the true reward of making good choices.
More Best of CHaracter Education Resources:
Activities / Lesson Plans
Choose books by character trait
List of books that teach kids about telling the truth, being honest in your actions (not being deceitful), listening to your conscience, being honest with yourself.
Stories with lessons about treating others with respect, respecting differences, self-respect and accepting yourself.
Books that teach kids about taking responsibility for your actions, acting responsibly.
How to teach character traits with picture books
To get the most out of picture books for character education, try these tips:
1. Explain the character traits you are planning to talk about- Set the stage for kids by telling them to look for examples of the traits you are teaching. Here are some good definitions of character traits written for kids that can help.
2. Use the pictures to help kids connect emotionally and build empathy- The illustrations in picture books are a great way to teach kids to read facial expressions and body language. This helps increase self-awareness and build empathy since they see the impact words and actions have on others.
3. Get the dicussion about character rolling- Talk about what happened in the book and how people were affected. Ask kids how the character felt, if they've ever been in a similar situation, and what are some different ways to prevent, or handle the situation. Most importantly, connect the character trait to why it is important to a child's life. For example when you are dishonest, you lose people's trust. Or for respect, you want people to treat you the way you would like to be treated.
4. Reinforce the lesson with a memorable activity- Many of these books have related worksheets, activities, and even songs that help reinforce the character traits features. But there are lots more resources on this list of the best free character education activities.
Suggest a resource
Have a favorite book or other resource for teaching character, growth mindset or other social emotional skills? We’d love to know about it. Drop us a note about good character education resources here.