34 Children's Picture 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?

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).

Tricky book
#3
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

Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie book
#4
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.

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 book
#5
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?

“Tell the truth and shame the devil,” Libby’s mama has told her. So whatever is Libby doing wrong? Ever since she started telling only the truth, the whole world seems to be mad at her. First it’s her best friend, Ruthie Mae, who gets upset when Libby tells all their friends that Ruthie Mae has a hole in her sock. Then Willie gives her an ugly look when she tells the teacher he hasn’t done his homework. It seems that telling the truth isn’t always so simple.

Children will sympathize with Libby as she struggles to figure out that even though it’s always wrong to tell a lie, there’s a right and a wrong way to tell the truth. Giselle Potter’s naively stubborn illustrations perfectly capture this humorous and poignant story by award-winning author Patricia C. McKissack.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School... - 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!

Little Croc's Purse book
#10
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.

Telling the Truth: A Book about Lying book
#11
Telling the Truth: A Book about Lying
Written by Carolyn Larsen and illustrated by Tim O'Connor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

Let's Be Honest book
#12
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.

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth book
#13
The Berenstain Bears and the Truth
Written and illustrated by Jan Berenstain and Stan Berenstain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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?

Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf book
#14
Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf
Written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by J. Otto Seibold
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

  1. Sam Tells Stories - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Eli's Lie-O-Meter - 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.

  4. The Lying King - 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
#19
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.

Pinky Promise book
#20
Pinky Promise
Written by Vanita Braver and illustrated by Cary Pillo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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 book
#21
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.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf book
#22
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.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon book
#23
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

  1. 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.

  2. The Emperor's New Clothes - A young boy who wishes for the return of dinosaurs imagines how useful they would be.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 book
#28
The Way I Act
Written by Steve Metzger and illustrated by Janan Cain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

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.

Kindness Makes the World Go Round book
#29
Kindness Makes the World Go Round
Written and illustrated by Sesame Workshop
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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!

Princess Kim and the Lie that Grew book
#30
Princess Kim and the Lie that Grew
Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

Princess Kim and Too Much Truth book
#31
Princess Kim and Too Much Truth
Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Young Kim discovers that there is a difference between being honest and always speaking the truth.

Hello, Goodbye, and a Very Little Lie book
#32
Hello, Goodbye, and a Very Little Lie
Written by Christianne C. Jones and illustrated by Christine Battuz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Larry lies about practically everything until he meets a girl who outsmarts him.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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