Best Kids Books About Honesty

Top 25 Books to Teach Your Kids About Honesty

Updated Mar. 17, 2019

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!). This is a great collection of books for illustrating the importance of honesty both short and long term and the inner satisfaction we get if nothing else.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! book
#1
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!
Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

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?

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich book
#2
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
Written and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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).

Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie book
#3
Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie
Written and illustrated by Laura Rankin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

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.

Ruthie loves tiny things and when she finds a tiny camera on the playground she is very happy, but after she lies and says the camera belongs to her, nothing seems to go right. 25,000 first printing.

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth book
#4
The Honest-to-Goodness Truth
Written by Patricia C McKissack and illustrated by Giselle Potter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from 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.

If telling the truth is the right thing to do, why is the whole world mad at Libby?

The Empty Pot book
#5
The Empty Pot
Written and illustrated by Demi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from 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.

When Ping admits that he is the only child in China unable to grow a flower from the seeds distributed by the Emperor, he is rewarded for his honesty.

A Day's Work book
#6
A Day's Work
Written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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 book
#7
Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Written and illustrated by Berkeley Breathed
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-18
Thoughts from 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.

Edwurd's little sister comes to the rescue when Edwurd's humongous fib lands him in trouble with a three-eyed alien from another galaxy.

Little Croc's Purse book
#8
Little Croc's Purse
Written and illustrated by Lizzie Finlay
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When Little Croc and his friends find a purse filled with money, they must decide whether to spend the money or turn in the purse.

Let's Be Honest book
#9
Let's Be Honest
Written and illustrated by P. K. Hallinan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Introduces the concept of honesty as a young child describes why it is best to tell the truth at all times.

Eli's Lie-O-Meter book
#10
Eli's Lie-O-Meter
Written by Sandra Levins and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Eli learns about the consequences of his fibs and the value of telling the truth. Includes note to parents.

A Bike Like Sergio's book
#11
A Bike Like Sergio's
Written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

Sam Tells Stories book
#12
Sam Tells Stories
Written by Thierry Robberecht and illustrated by Philippe Goossens
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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 book
#13
Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf
Written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by J. Otto Seibold
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When Big Bad Wolf, who now lives at the Villain Villa Retirement Residence, is invited to tell his story at the library, he faces the truth about what he did to the three little pigs and decides to make amends.

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth book
#14
The Berenstain Bears and the Truth
Written and illustrated by Jan Berenstain, Stan Berenstain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Brother and Sister Bear learn how important it is to tell the truth after they accidentally break Mama Bear's most favorite lamp.

A Big Fat Enormous Lie book
#15
A Big Fat Enormous Lie
Written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by David McPhail
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

An empty cookie jar and a small boy with a problem lead to one big fat enormous lie.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf book
#16
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Written by B. G. Hennessy and illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

"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.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire book
#17
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
Written and illustrated by Diane DeGroat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

David Gets in Trouble book
#18
David Gets in Trouble
Written and illustrated by David Shannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When David gets in trouble, he has excuses right up until bedtime, when he realizes he really is sorry and apologizing makes him feel better. By the creator of No, David!

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! book
#19
The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!
Written and illustrated by Scott Magoon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Ben is a boy who has so often tried to convince people he has seen a Bigfoot that when a real Yeti arrives and borrows his bicycle, no one comes to see if he is telling the truth, in a classic tale with a hugely hilarious twist that carries a timeless message for children about the importance of establishing trust and not "crying wolf."

Jackalope book
#20
Jackalope
Written by Janet Stevens and illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

Tricky book
#21
Tricky
Written and illustrated by Kari Rust
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

An old dog learns new tricks in this story about righting wrongs

The Lying King book
#22
The Lying King
Written and illustrated by Alex Beard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-18

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!

Being Frank book
#23
Being Frank
Written and illustrated by Donna W. Earnhardt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School... book
#24
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School...
Written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

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!

Pinky Promise book
#25
Pinky Promise
Written by Vanita Braver and illustrated by Cary Pillo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When five-year-old Madison drops her mother's expensive camera on the floor she is afraid to tell the truth about what happened, but she soon discovers that lying only makes her feel worse.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.