9 Children's Chapter Books About Honesty and Trustworthiness

Looking for a list of the best children's books about honesty?

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?

Caleb and Kit book
#1
Caleb and Kit
Written by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

The Big Lie book
#2
The Big Lie
Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Tammy Lyon and Fran Manushkin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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?

True (. . . Sort Of) book
#3
True (. . . Sort Of)
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book
#4
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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!

Jake and Lily book
#5
Jake and Lily
Written and illustrated by Jerry Spinelli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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!

  1. Honey Moon Shiver - “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.

  2. Double Trouble - 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Liar, Liar - 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.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!