William Shakespeare said: “No legacy is so rich as honesty,” and we’re inclined to agree with him. While sometimes it may seem easier to lie, teaching our children (and showing them by example) that telling the harder truth is far better in the long run than telling the initially easy lie is a powerful lesson that will serve them well throughout life . . . but it’s a hard thing to do when it seems like negative consequences so often immediately follow a truth-telling (especially when there was wrongdoing involved!). We’ve created a list of the best kids books about honesty to help illustrate the importance of honesty both short and long term and the inner satisfaction we get if nothing else.
While we generally prefer more lighthearted and clever commentaries on honesty (such as “The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His Grrrr”) to books that are more directly moralizing (such as “Telling the Truth, a Book about Lying”), we’ve included both types of books on this list to give you the full range of tools. Looking for a book about lying for a 10 year old? Try reading “The Bear Ate Your Sandwich” and use it to jumpstart a conversation on the difference between creatively using your imagination to tell a story and lying. Technically it’s a book about lying and stealing, but because you won’t discover that until the final page (and it takes an extremely light-hearted approach), you may find it gives you a shared framework in a fun way and gets your conversation started on a good note.
Honesty is a quality that is important (and issues with it, unfortunately, are prevalent) starting with toddlers and continuing on through elementary-age kids, tweens, teenagers and finally adults, so this list includes titles from a range of difficulties. Board and picture books aren’t just for young children, however, and their powerful tales of lying and stealing, honesty and trustworthiness, can speak to the soul through their silly rhyming and playful illustrations in ways a sermon or even a more reading-level appropriate book may struggle to do. It turns out that the best books about honesty for kids can also be the best books about honesty for tweens and for adults, don’t you think?
This is one of my very favorite recent books. I love the illustrations, I’m an absolute sucker for a great rhyme scheme and the message is phenomenal: friends matter more than winning, and it doesn’t pays off to be dishonest.
From the award-winning author and illustrator of Blown Away, Rob Biddulph, comes a delightfully hilarious story about a grizzly bear named Fred who loses his GRRRRR. Each year, for as long as the forest has stood, a contest is held for the bears of the wood… Fred is the champion. He’s the best. But being the best takes time and training, especially when it comes to having the loudest growl. Then, one morning, disaster strikes—Fred’s GRRRRR is gone! Oh, no! Will Fred find his GRRRRR and realize that there’s more to life than being a winner?
From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a powerfully moving story about a magical friendship, coping with disability, and the pains of growing up and growing apart. Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That’s because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective mom and a perfect big brother. Then Caleb meets Kit—a vibrant, independent, and free girl—and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb’s palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky and turns every day into an adventure. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit’s friend means embracing deception and danger, and soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what’s best for him—or her. This new paperback edition includes a Q&A with the author as well as a sneak peek at Beth Vrabel’s next middle grade novel, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee.
Bear meets sandwich, adventure ensues. . . . A sly classic-in-the-making for fans of Jon Klassen, Peter Brown, and Mo Willems.
By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you. It all started with the bear . . .
So begins Julia Sarcone-Roach’s delicious tale of a bear, lost in the city, who happens upon an unattended sandwich in the park. The bear’s journey from forest to city and back home again is full of happy accidents, funny encounters, and sensory delights. The story is so engrossing, it’s not until the very end that we begin to suspect this is a TALL tale.
The wonderfully told story, spectacular illustrations, and surprise ending make this Julia Sarcone-Roach’s best book to date. You’ll want to share it with your friends (and keep a close eye on your lunch).
I love that this story has a wonderful message of how it takes courage to be honest, and how even if we make a mistake, we can rectify it and feel better. It teaches why lying is bad without being to blatant or preachy. The story is fun, and I think it does a great job of helping children identify resulting feelings from both dishonesty and honesty.
Laura Rankin touches on an important childhood issue of lying with gentleness and humor, offering a reassuring look at how standing up for the truth can help cut even the biggest mistake down to size.
Ruthie loves little things-the smaller the better. So when she finds a teeny tiny camera on the school playground one afternoon, she can hardly believe her luck. She wants to keep the camera in the worst way, but there’s one little problem: It isn’t hers.
Ruthie swears to her teacher and to her classmate Martin that she got the camera for her birthday. But deep down, Ruthie knows better, and all day long that teeny tiny camera weighs on her conscience until she can hardly stand it. How could one little camera turn into such a great big problem?
The Honest-to-Goodness Truth - The Book Snob Mom - This book is definitely on the longer side but it takes a stab at the importance of not only telling the truth but also telling it at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons! The illustrations are fun and stylized and I appreciate the diversity of the characters.
The Empty Pot - The Book Snob Mom - This is a fantastic story about the courage it takes to be honest sometimes, as well as the worth of the truth. The illustrations date the book but are still enjoyable and fit well with the books setting, giving it an air of folklore that fits the instructive but not grating moralizing message.
A Day's Work - When Francisco, a young Mexican American boy, tries to help his grandfather find work, he discovers that even though the old man cannot speak English, he has something even more valuable to teach Francisco.
Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big - The Book Snob Mom - The cadence of this book is so fun to listen to, and while it’s full of ridiculously big fibs, the consequences for fibbing are equally ridiculous and add humor to the message that fibbing is wrong. I also love the element of sibling relationships—both the ups and the downs.
First, some giant ants steal breakfast. Then there are the evil ninjas, massive ape, mysterious mole people, giant blob, and countless other daunting (and astonishing) detours along the way to school. Are these excuses really why this student is late? Or is there another explanation that is even more outrageous than the rest? From Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud, the critically acclaimed author/illustrator team behind I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . comes a fast-paced, actionpacked, laugh-out-loud story about finding the way to school despite the odds—and the unbelievable oddness!
Stories to Encourage Positive Behavior in Small Children
The preschool and kindergarten years are some of the most important formative years of a person’s life. Habits and attitudes developed during these crucial years affect a child for the rest of his or her life. These years are also a challenging time for parents as their children test boundaries (and patience). How parents and children respond makes all the difference in the world.
The Growing God’s Kids series is designed to help young children understand their feelings, develop godly ways to deal with temptations, and form positive attitudes and behaviors that will serve them well in the future. In Telling the Truth, parents and children are encouraged to address lying and discover the value of telling the truth.
Mom’s Choice Award for Children’s Picture Books (Gold)
Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Honor Winner
Eli knows the difference between pretending and the real facts. Pretending is what he does when he orbits the earth with Duffy, and the real facts are what actually happen. Sometimes in REAL life, keeping to the facts is hard for Eli. Eli has a knack for telling fibs and an occasional whopper. But when Eli’s dog Duffy gets banished to the backyard, Eli learns at least one reason for telling the truth!
While it can be common for kids to stretch the truth, toss out fibs, or tell big whoppers, why does this frustrate parents so much?
It’s helpful for parents to understand how kids experience a lie. Kids don’t really believe they are lying. Instead, the fact-stretching can be a convenient way to get out of trouble or to protect someone else from being punished. Telling lies may be a way your child can safeguard friendships. Or stretching the truth might only be a bit of fun.
Enjoy this story with your children. and as they see the consequence of Eli’s fibs, they might understand the benefits of sticking to the truth. And to help you get the facts straight on fibs, lies, big lies, and whoppers, included is a Note to Parents by Mary Lamia, PhD, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who works with adults, adolescents, and preteens.
Eager to make friends, Sam decides to tell a story that isn’t true in order to win his new classmates over, but when he is confronted with the truth, Sam has to set the record straight and learns an important lesson in the process.
Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf - Big Bad Wolf’s first visit to his local library (as related in Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf) was such a success that he returns to tell his version of “The Three Little Pigs.” His outrageous spin on the tale draws skeptical remarks from his audience: “Isn’t that wolf’s nose getting longer?” asks Pinocchio. “It’s a cooked-up, half-baked tale,” snaps the Gingerbread Boy. And “Tell the truth, B.B. Wolf!” squeal the Three Little Pigs. Caught in his own lie, B.B. explains that he is a reformed villain: “Now I’m begging on my knees, Little Pigs, forgive me, please!” How B.B. turns his bad old deed into a good new one provides a happy ending to this fun-to-read fractured fairytale.
The Berenstain Bears and the Truth - This classic Berenstain Bears story is a perfect way to teach children about the importance of honesty! Come for a visit in Bear Country with this classic First Time Book® from Stan and Jan Berenstain. When Mama goes to the market, Brother and Sister play soccer in the house . . . and end up breaking a lamp! When Mama asks them what happened, they tell her a series of whoppers that just get bigger and bigger. Will they ever tell her the truth?
Let's Be Honest - Introduces the concept of honesty as a young child describes why it is best to tell the truth at all times.
A Bike Like Sergio's - When Ruben, who longs to have a bike like his friend Sergios that his family cannot afford, finds money in a grocery store, he has to make a tough decision about what to do with it.
Jake’s new toy plane is missing. No one knows where it is, except Katie Woo. But Katie wants to keep the plane. What should she do?
Can warthogs fly? Do tigers eat broccoli? For answers, follow along as Warthog lies his way to the throne in this timeless, yet most timely, Tale from the Watering Hole. Will the Truth catch up with the king? Find out as Alex Beard’s whimsical animals come to life to illuminate real world truths for children of all ages. With a nod to Aesop and Kipling, this funny and pointed parable has lessons for everyone, from the playground to the boardroom and beyond!
Can friendship save you? The day Ferris Boyd moves to town, Delly Pattison is sure a special surpresent (a present that is a surprise) is on its way. Instead, Delly ends up in even more trouble than usual. The Boyds’ arrival in River Bluffs means big changes for Brud Kinney, too. He can’t believe who he’s hanging around with. Ferris Boyd isn’t like anyone Delly or Brud have ever known. Ferris is a mystery and a wonder. Through friendship, though, Delly, Brud, and Ferris discover truths that will change their lives. And bring them the best surpresent of all. Includes an all-new afterword featuring a short story, photographs by the author, and more
Frank follows the motto, “Honesty is the best policy.” He tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Frank never lies to his schoolmates, he always tells the truth to adults, and he’s always honest with police officers. The balancing act of finding tact, that fine line between telling the truth and telling too much truth, is the main theme of this story, and it’s very funny—although not necessarily to his friend Dotti whose freckles remind Frank of the Big Dipper, or to the teacher who hears that her breath smells like onions, or to the principal who is told that his toupee looks like a weasel. No one is quite as impressed with Frank’s honesty as he thinks they should be. He is sweet and straightforward, and, well, very frank, but with everyone annoyed at him, Frank is now honestly unhappy. He decides to visit his confidante and pal, Grandpa Ernest, who has a history of frankness himself. With a few lessons from Grandpa, Frank begins to understand that the truth is important, but so is not being hurtful. With amusing characters and expressive artwork, this story tells the powerful message of finding the good in everything—a lesson that sends compassion and understanding to take the place of rudeness in the complex concept of truth.
Five-year-old Madison didn’t mean to break the camera, but she didn’t want to get in trouble either. So when her mom asked what happened, Madison lied. With the help of her parents, Madison learns the importance of telling the truth.
Jackalope - A jackrabbit who wishes to be feared asks his fairy godrabbit for horns and becomes the first jackalope, but there’s one condition: he must not tell lies. 75,000 first printing.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf - “Nothing ever happens here,” the shepherd thinks. But the bored boy knows what would be exciting: He cries that a wolf is after his sheep, and the town’s people come running. How often can that trick work, though? B.G. Hennessy’s retelling of this timeless fable is infused with fanciful whimsy through Boris Kulikov’s hilarious and ingenious illustrations. This tale is sure to leave readers grinning sheepishly.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - From the author of The BFG and Matilda! Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon - Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do. Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart. But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
This is a story about me, Lily. And me, Jake. We’re twins and we’re exactly alike. Not exactly! Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me. Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood. Right. So anyway, this is a book about goobers and supergoobers bullies clubhouses true friends things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt and about figuring out who we are. We wrote this together (sort of) so you’ll get to see both sides of our story. But you’ll probably agree with my side. You always have to have the last word, don’t you? Yes!
“Honey Moon is in a terrible pickle. She borrowed her mother’s precious silver locket without permission and now the family heirloom has gone missing. Honey suspects it was taken by one of her best friends. She sets out to find the necklace before her mother notices it’s gone. Along the way, Honey meets Shiver, who turns out to be much more than the owner of the newest popsicle shop in Sleepy Hollow. With Shiver’s guidance and a bit of magic, Honey is able to track down the locket and learn the importance of telling the truth and the power of forgiveness.”—Amazon.com.
Victoria Adelman is lonely. Her best friend has moved away, leaving her to spend the summer alone. One day, on her way home from a bat mitzvah, she meets Jazzy, her next-door neighbors’ granddaughter. Tori hopes her friendless status is about to change.
Later, in her garden, she meets Jazzy again, but Jazzy doesn’t recognize the filthy, smelly girl as the one she met earlier. In a moment of insecurity, Tori tells Jazzy that the girl she met before was her twin sister, Vicky. Tori is sure she can fake being that girl in the dress—it’s only for two weeks.
But then Jazzy announces she’s staying with her grandparents for the school year. Tori needs to figure out what to do: come clean and lose her new friend, or live her life as a fake.
Gilbert is nervous about portraying George Washington in front of the class, and he feels even worse when he leaves his main prop at home and allows another student to take the blame.
Fancy Nancy: My Family History - When Nancy has to write a report on her ancestors for school, she can’t help exaggerating a little—at first. After all, what’s wrong with making her family history sound fancier? But Nancy goes too far and has to deal with truth and consequences! Readers will sympathize with Nancy’s quandary in this engaging Fancy Nancy I Can Read story.
The Story Web - In this heartfelt magical novel, Megan Frazer Blakemore shows that how we wield stories has the power to shape the world. When Alice was little, she found a gigantic spider web deep in the forest. Her dad called it the Story Web and told her how its strands were woven from the stories that hold our world together. Years later, Alice’s dad is gone, and she’s sure it’s her fault. Now she won’t even talk about her dad and definitely doesn’t believe his farfetched stories. But when animals in town start acting strangely, she can’t ignore them. They are trying to tell her the Story Web is in danger - that the fabric of our world is breaking. The only way to mend it is to tell honest tales from the heart. Alice must confront the real reason her dad is gone, but is she strong enough to finally tell her side of the story? This magical tale of truth and honesty, integrity and intention is perfect for fans of Katherine Applegate.
Stand Tall!: A book about integrity (Being the Best Me Series) - Integrity is an important trait for children to develop—especially as they grow, learn, and have more opportunities to make choices for themselves. With this encouraging book, support children in knowing right from wrong, making positive decisions, keeping promises, and staying true to themselves. Back matter includes advice for teaching integrity at home, at school, and in childcare. Being the Best Me Series: From the author of the popular Learning to Get Along® books comes a one-of-a-kind character-development series. Each of the first six books in the Being the Best Me! series helps children learn, understand, and develop attitudes and positive character traits that strengthen self-confidence and a sense of purpose. Each book focuses on a specific attitude or character trait—optimism, self-esteem, assertiveness, resilience, integrity, and forgiveness. Also included are discussion questions, games, activities, and additional information for adults. Filled with diversity, these social story books will be welcome in school, home, and childcare settings.
The Way I Act - The Way I Act explores thirteen ways of behaving. The friendly verses and bold illustrations convey many positive ideas of how to act in a variety of situations. In the companion book, The Way I Feel, children learned that feelings come and go and simply are. A little older now, they are ready to think about the ability they have to control how things turn out. Like The Way I Feel, this book is ideal for children with autism.
Elmo’s mom has gifted him a camera! What a wonderful surprise and generous act of kindness! “Elmo snapped a few photos, then a thought came to mind “Does Elmo know what it means to be kind? To be humble and selfless and honest and true” Elmo set off to find out just what he knew!” Journey with Elmo to find the true meaning of kindness, exploring all of the kind characters and gestures that Sesame Street has to offer and creating a beautiful scrapbook along the way!
Kim wants the kids at her new school to like her, so she tells a teeny, tiny, bitty lie. She says her name is really “K.I.M.”—for “Katherine Isabella Marguerite”—and that she comes from a royal family! Pretty soon all the students know there is a princess in the school. Kim wears her golden tiara from dance class and a big fancy ring she won at the arcade. Her little lie grows and grows. When a classmate invites her to a birthday party, Kim says she can’t go because her grandmother is coming to visit. But she had told the kids her grandmother was a queen. Now they all want to meet the queen. Kim is in a real bind; her lie has grown too big and it’s about ready to explode!
Kevin doesn’t mean to make trouble when he lies. He’s just really good at it, and it makes life so much easier. But as his lies pile up, he finds himself in big—and funny—trouble with his friends, family, and teachers. He’s got to find a way to end his lying streak—forever.
Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib - Having fibbed about stealing his best friend’s popcorn at the circus, Doug-Dennis the sheep finds himself carried far away to a place filled with lies and liars of all sorts and must discover a way to return.
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - Gilbert is nervous about portraying George Washington in front of the class, and he feels even worse when he leaves his main prop at home and allows another student to take the blame.