Fascinating Children’s Books about Honesty and Trust

These children's books about honesty and trust illustrate characters listening to their conscience and understanding the effects of dishonesty on others. They also start discussions on characters who lie, cheat and don't always think about the consequences of their actions.

Picture Books about Honesty and Trust

Honesty and Trust

An honest person is someone truthful and reliable. They are typically fair-minded and have a strong sense of integrity. On the other hand, a dishonest person is deceitful and untrustworthy. They often have little regard for others and often act out of self-interest.

Honesty is the foundation of trust, and relationships cannot thrive without trust. Additionally, honesty is essential for making good decisions. When people are honest, they can more easily identify their right choices.

As adults, when we know someone is honest, we can trust them, but it can take children some time to connect the two. Children are prone to exaggeration, which may seem innocent enough, but as they age, this can lead to mistrust and related social issues.

Why Read Children’s Books about Honesty and Trust?

Telling the truth isn't always natural for children. They know honesty is the best option, but it may mean disappointing someone. Children may lie to avoid punishment or protect their friends. Teaching children to be truthful in their actions and words helps them develop healthy relationships and be seen as trustworthy.

Picture books about honesty tell stories illustrating the importance of being truthful and building trust-based relationships. You can use these stories to open up discussions with your students about why honesty and trust are important and the consequences of dishonesty.

As adults, when we know someone is honest, we can trust them, but it can take children some time to connect the two. Children are prone to exaggeration, which may seem innocent enough, but as they age, this can lead to mistrust and related social issues. 

Picture books focusing on honesty show children the importance of being truthful and handling difficult situations with integrity.

Honest and Trustworthy Characteristics

Reading these children's books about honesty illustrates characters who:

  • Show integrity.
  • Are truthful and trustworthy.
  • Listen to their conscience.
  • Understand the effect of dishonesty on others.
  • Show loyalty and fairness.
  • Stand up for their beliefs.
  • Have healthy relationships.
  • Have a happier mindset.

As well as these positive characteristics, you will read about characters who lie, cheat and don't think about the consequences of their actions.

Questions to Use with Children’s Books about Honesty

  • What is a lie?
  • Why do you think people lie?
  • Is it ever okay to lie? Why or why not?
  • Explain if you think it is easier to lie or tell the truth.
  • What are some of the consequences of lying?
  • Are some types of lies more severe than others?
  • Is there ever a time when it is okay to lie? Why?
  • Is it okay to keep quiet rather than tell the truth?
  • Is it ever wrong to tell the truth?
  • Why do we tell the truth? Why are some people dishonest?
  • How do you know if you can trust someone?
  • What does it mean when you trust someone? What signs or actions do you look for?
  • How did [character] honesty/dishonesty affect the story and the other characters?
  • How would the story have changed if [character] had been honest in the first place?
  • What words would you use to describe [character's] actions?
  • Why do you think [character] was dishonest? What is the evidence?
  • How do you think [character] felt when they were lied to? How do you feel when someone lies to you?
  • Why do you think [character] did/didn't trust [character]?

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Children’s Books about Honesty

A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon

Camilla Cream loves lima beans but won’t eat them because her friends hate them. A mysterious illness causes her to become what others think she should be. No one can figure out what is wrong until Camilla realises she just needs to be herself and not bow to peer pressure.

Reinforces themes of balance, self-esteem and growth mindset.

A Bad Case of the Stripes Activities and Comprehension Questions

Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

Colette explores her new neighbourhood, and another child asks what she is doing. Not knowing what to say, she says she is looking for her pet, a parakeet. Soon, community members search for the (fake) pet, which gets more impressive every time Colette talks about it. Finding the lost bird gives Colette the perfect opportunity to make new friends.

Promotes discussions on exaggeration, friendship, new home, honesty, and community.

Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo

Zot, an alien from a colourless world, visits Earth to find his own happiness in its colour. He steals the colour, including an orange balloon, from a small boy. Zot takes off in his spaceship but changes his heart when he sees the devastated child.

The Colour Thief promotes discussions on honesty, kindness and friendship.

The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots, especially free ones; this is until the carrots begin stalking him and watching his every move. The tension builds as Jasper’s imagination goes into overdrive. He devises a plan to stop the carrots but will it be the success he hopes for?

Creepy Carrots reinforces themes of overcoming fears and honesty.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

A Day's Work by Eve Bunting

Francisco helps his grandfather find work by lying that he is a gardener. They are hired by Ben to work on his garden, but they pull out all the plants instead of the weeds. Abuelo returns the next day to complete the job correctly before taking his wages.

Promotes responsible decision-making, honesty, integrity and trust.

A Day's Work by Eve Bunting

The Empty Pot by Demi

An Emperor challenges the children in his kingdom to grow a seed. Ping loves flowers and tends lovingly to his seed. But when Spring arrives, he only has an empty pot to show the Emperor.

This Chinese folktale promotes integrity and honesty.

The Empty Pot by Demi

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big by Berkeley Breathed

Edwurd Fudwpper's humongous fib gets him into trouble with the military, a dogcatcher and a three-eyed alien. It takes his little sister, Fannie Fudwupper, to rescue him.

This rhyming book promotes honesty and responsibility.

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big by Berkeley Breathed

Found by Jeff Newman

Jenn still misses her beloved dog, who went missing a long time ago. She finds a lost dog who she calls Roscoe, and grows to love him. When she spots a missing poster for Roscoe, she has to make a very difficult decision.

Found is a wordless book that promotes empathy and compassion.

Found by Jeff Newman

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Davide Cali

A boy explains to his teacher he is late to school because of giant ants! A chain of events, including cannonballs, evil ninjas, and an elephant parade followed this!

Promotes cause & effect, making connections and sequencing.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Davide Cali

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! by Rob Biddulph

Fred the Bear is training for the Best Bear in the Woods competition. When Boris the Bear steals Fred’s roar, his friends rally around. He realises it is best to forgive Boris, who soon sees the errors of his ways.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! promotes discussions on forgiveness, integrity, honesty and respect.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His Grrrrr! by Rob Biddulph

A Hen for Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis

Shaina finds a magnificent hen belonging to Izzy Pippik. While looking after the hen, the town becomes overrun with rowdy chickens. She protects the bird through her determination and standing up for what's right.

This strong female character is full of compassion, integrity and honesty.

A Hen for Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack

Libby has been telling the absolute truth since her mama told her, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” When everyone gets mad at her, she realises there is a right way to tell the truth.

Read The Honest-to-Goodness Truth to discuss honesty, integrity, and trust.

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

This is the first of two children's books about honesty by Jon Klassen. Bear asks the animals if they have seen his lost, red, pointy hat, but they all deny seeing it. He feels dejected and worries he will never see his hat again. When a deer helps him remember, the bear confronts the guilty animal.

Promotes responsible-decision making, manners, cause and effect, honesty and integrity.

I Want My Hat Back Activities and Read-Aloud Questions

Kancil and the Crocodiles: A Tale from Malaysia by Noreha Yussof Day

On a hot day, Kancil, the mouse deer and Kura-Kura, the tortoise, spotted a tree full of juicy fruits. They trick some hungry crocodiles into helping them cross the river to the tree. Unfortunately, they didn't think about their return trip. 

Read Kancil and the Crocodiles to promote discussions on Malaysia, folktales, honesty, integrity, and consequences.

Kancil and the Crocodiles: A Tale from Malaysia by Noreha Yussof Day

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

Sid invents an imaginary friend called Kevin to take the blame for his mischievous behaviour. But with Kevin’s help, Sid realises it is best to be honest, and he apologises for his past behaviour.

Promotes forgiveness, honesty and being reflective.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly loves school, her teacher, and her purple plastic purse. When her teacher, Mr Slinger, confiscates the purse, she plans her revenge. She draws a mean picture of Mr Slinger but soon feels remorse and sets out to make amends.

Promotes self-management, forgiveness, integrity, relationship skills and reflection.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse Activities and Comprehension Questions

Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems

Piggie can’t wait to play her new trumpet for Gerald. After her performance, she proudly waits for Gerald’s opinion. He tells her the truth. She hadn’t played music, only a loud noise. Piggie tells him she wants to speak like an elephant to sound like Gerald. Touched, he teaches Piggie to use the trumpet to sound more like him.

Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems

Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger

Martha does not apologise, ever. She soon learns that if she wants others to cooperate, she must apologise for her behaviour.

Promotes themes of balance, cooperation, forgiveness, honesty, manners and reflection.

Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John L. Steptoe

Mufaro's two daughters react differently to the King's search for a wife – one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king disguises himself to learn the true nature of both girls and chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be the queen. This African folktale promotes themes of jealousy, vanity and kindness.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno

Mako is thrilled when she gets a new pair of Geta, traditional Japanese shoes. They are shiny with red lacquer until she cracks them while playing outside. She tries to fool her mother into getting a new pair of Geta but soon realises honesty is the best way to go.

Promotes forgiveness, making connections, and honesty.

A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno

Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug tells lies to get what he wants, and he always blames Trevor, the sausage dog. His next lie causes Trevor to get thrown out of the house. Will Pig learn his lesson and stop lying and blaming Trevor for everything?

This rhyming book promotes honesty, sharing and kindness.

Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey

Princess K.I.M. and the Lie That Grew by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Kim tries to impress her new classmates with a lie. She finally realises she has to tell the truth but will it be too late to keep her new friends?

Reinforces themes of acceptance, forgiveness, honesty and identity.

Princess K.I.M. and the Lie That Grew by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

The Promise by Nicola Davies

After committing a criminal act, a nameless girl travels the world planting seeds and transforming bleak landscapes to compensate for her misdemeanour. 

Reinforces themes of determination, open-mindedness and well-being.

The Promise by Nicola Davies

The Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter

A sad little fact is locked in a prison with other facts for telling the truth. Some fact finders help the imprisoned facts finally spread the truth. Not everyone believes the facts, but they are now out there for everyone to hear.

The Sad Little Fact promotes discussions on honesty, trust, politics, oppression and social awareness.

The Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter

The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

A tired stranger arrives in a new place with their suitcase. It is met with suspicion and curiosity from the local animals. The animals break open the suitcase when it falls asleep to find a broken teacup and an old photograph. The stranger wakes from a dream about finding safety to find the animals have fixed the teacup and recreated it

Use in the classroom to discuss immigration, kindness, empathy, trust, asking questions, and inference.

The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

This is the second of two children's books about honesty by Jon Klassen. A small fish wearing a hat admits, “this is not my hat”. He stole it from a big fish. A fish is soon hunting for his hat and the dishonest fish. Sure it will get away with the crime; the fish is unaware that the big fish is searching for his hat. The last we hear of the little fish is him swimming into the reeds with the big fish following behind.

Promotes honesty, integrity, conflict and responsible decision-making.

This is Not My Hat Activities and Read-Aloud Questions

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

The reader gets to decide who is telling the truth in this fractured fairy tale of The Three Little Pigs. The wolf insists he was just trying to borrow some sugar to make a birthday cake for his poor old granny.

Promotes different perspectives, persuasion and honesty.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race by James Thorp

Six animals race through their respective homes and deceive, trick and cheat. All except for the unicorn. A snail witnessed the cheating, and the unicorn was rewarded for its integrity.

Promotes responsible decision-making, being principled and sportsmanship.

The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race by James Thorp

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema

An African folktale about how the actions of one mosquito cause the sun not to rise. As punishment, the mosquito buzzes in people's ears to ask if everyone is still angry.

Promotes discussions on cause & effect and integrity.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardemai

Yoon and the Jade Bracelet by Helen Recorvits

Yoon gets a book from her mother and her grandmother's jade bracelet for her birthday. When a classmate borrows the jade bracelet, she lies and says it is hers. Yoon uses the lessons she learnt from her birthday book to get this precious gift back.

Yoon and the Jade Bracelet by Helen Recorvits

In Conclusion

Reading children's books about honesty and trustworthiness helps you start discussions about the consequences of dishonesty. This includes punishment, losing the trust of others and telling more lies to cover the first one.

Honesty also keeps the wrong person from getting blamed for something they didn't do.

What are your favourite picture books to discuss honesty and trust?

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Picture Books about Honesty and Trust

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