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?