Best Character Education / SEL Books for Kids

List of the best character education and social skills books for kids

Children's picture books are a great way to teach kids about good character traits and social skills, 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 social skills in action. Children see what behaving badly looks like and gain empathy for how their actions impact others. They also see how good the book characters feel when they make a good choice- connecting kids to the true reward of good character and social skills.


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Character Education Activities, Videos ... Social Skills Activities, Videos...

Choose books by social skill/ character trait

Good picture books about honesty with social emotional learning lessons for children

Honesty / Conscience Books

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.

Respect books

Stories with lessons about treating others with respect, respecting differences, listening, waiting your turn, self-respect and accepting yourself.

Responsibility books

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.



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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 and we'll check it out.



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