Picture Books about Integrity and Being Principled

Picture Books about Integrity and Being Principled

Use these picture books about integrity in your classroom to discuss themes of being principled and knowing what is right and wrong. They show trustworthy characters showing fairness, listening to their conscience and reflecting on the effects of their actions.

Picture Books about Integrity & Being Principled

Why Use Picture Books about Integrity?

According to the IB Learner Profile, being principled means being someone who will “act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. [They] take responsibility for [their actions and their consequences.

Having integrity and being principled is hard, which is why children need opportunities to discuss the consequences of their actions (positive and negative) and the effect they have on others. There are many benefits to having a principled attitude, including:

  • reducing risky behavior
  • experiencing fewer errors in work projects
  • experiencing less stress
  • looking forward to making progress, personally and academically
  • inspiring others
  • being less likely to be affected by negative behavior

Picture Books about Integrity and Being Principled

These picture books about integrity show principled (or not) actions in context with illustrations. Some books show characters showing fairness and integrity. Others focus on characters listening to their conscience and reflecting on the effects of their actions. Other behavior includes:

  • acting with integrity and honesty
  • having a strong sense of fairness and justice
  • respecting the dignity and rights of all people
  • taking responsibility for actions and consequences
  • showing gratitude and not taking things for granted
  • showing patience and self-discipline
  • embracing people’s differences
  • considering the big picture when making decisions

You will also read about characters being unprincipled by:

  • having strained relationships and being mistrusted by others
  • feeling insecurity with low self-esteem
  • reacting defensively
  • showing disrespectful and negative behaviour
  • getting frustrated easily
  • seeing events from their own perspective 
  • acting on impulse and emotions without thinking about the consequences

Discussion Questions to Use With Picture Books about Integrity

  • How would it feel to compromise your principles?
  • Tell me how [character] showed integrity.
  • How do you think it made [character] feel to stand up for their principles?
  • Do you think it was difficult for [character] to be honest? Why?
  • What was the effect of [character] actions?
  • What words would you use to describe [character] actions? (true, liar, responsible, fair, trustworthy, reliable, principled, loyal, respectful, just)
  • How could [character] be more principled?
  • How did [character’s] principled behavior affect others in the story?
  • How did [character’s] integrity impact the events of the story?
  • Did [character] act fairly and honestly? 
  • Did [character] they follow the rules? If not, what were the consequences?
  • How did [character] feel when things were going wrong? 
  • What did [character] do to improve the situation?

FREE Learner Profile Graphic Organizers

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The resource includes a graphic organizer for each learner profile. Fill in the form below to get access to the FREE pack.

You can find the FULL Principled resource pack by clicking on the image.

If you already have access to the free resource library, you will find the freebie in the Learner Profile section.

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Picture Books about Integrity

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A board book about different forms of activism including environmental justice, civil rights and LGBTQ rights. Promotes community, equality, justice and hope.

A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon

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

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

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman

A young girl bands together with a group of children to influence change in their community. They realise they have the power to change the world for the better, big and small, with their words and actions and inspire others to do the same.

This first-person narrative poetry book promotes conversations about a sense of community, change, unity, hope, cooperation, kindness, activism and a growth mindset.

A Child’s Garden by Michael Foreman

In an environment of war and poverty, a home is turned into rubble. But a boy sees hope in a small green shoot growing towards the sun. He gently encourages the plant to grow, creating a garden of hope and harmony.

The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool

A boy spins clouds into beautiful cloth. When a greedy king sees it he demands the boy make him clothes. This demand has consequences as the clouds disappear and cause a drought. The princess returns the woven cloth to the boy who releases it to become clouds once more.

Emmeline Pankhurst by Lisbeth Kaiser

As a political activist, Emmeline Pankhurst dedicated her life to the fight for women’s equality. She organised the suffragette movement in the UK and was instrumental in women gaining the right to vote. The book includes a profile of Mrs. Pankhurst’s life accompanied by historical photos and a timeline.

Promotes activism, the suffragette movement, women’s rights and gender roles.

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.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Annabelle finds a box of colourful yarn which never runs out no matter how much she knits. When an evil archduke steals the yarn its magic no longer works. When the yarn finds its way back to Annabelle and the magic continues.

Promotes determination, integrity, perseverance, respect and being a risk-taker.

Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg's stand to save the world by Zoë Tucker

Forest animals plea with Greta to save their home. Holding a ‘STOP’ sign, she faces the greedy giants who have plundered the environment. She is joined by others who hold the giants to account, prompting a positive change to the environment.

Prompts discussions on activism, climate change and women who make a difference.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! by Rob Biddulph

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

Promotes forgiveness, integrity, honesty and respect.

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

Guji Guji was raised as a duck but discovers he is actually a crocodile. The other crocodiles want Guji Guji to help them eat his duck family, but he instead formulates a plan to save them.

Promotes acceptance, identity, problem-solving and a sense of belonging.

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books by Karen Leggett Abouraya

During the 2011 revolution in Egypt, thousands of people formed a human chain around the Library of Alexandria to protect it. In a time of great turmoil, a love of literature and freedom united a country.

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.

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 that there is a right way to tell the truth.

Read to discuss honesty, integrity, and trust.

Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg

Walter couldn’t be bothered to sort out the rubbish. He had better things to do. That is until he dreams of a nightmare future. Reformed, Walter understands everyone needs to respect the environment for a more positive future.

Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson

Narrated by a child who joined the 1963 civil rights march in Birmingham, Alabama. Through their words, we see the harsh consequences for children protesting after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. Children were jailed and treated with disdain by many adults. Regardless, they took a stand and used their voice to change the world.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

A lion visits a library every day, to the delight of the children. But the lion breaks the noise rules when it roars to help the head librarian in an emergency. What will happen to the lion now?

Promotes integrity, being principled, respect, reflection and the joy of reading.

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.

Love Is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer

Mari prepares for the Women’s March in New York City in 2017 with her mother. As she makes her sign she ask her whether the world will hear their message. Her mama responds “They’ll hear because love is powerful.”

Promotes equality, curiosity, tolerance and fighting for change.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport

A biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., using quotes from his important speeches to tell the story of his life. The book includes a timeline and further resources to learn about this influential man.

Use to discuss black history, civil rights, segregation, freedom, courage, integrity and activism.

Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully

Learn about the work of Margaret E. Knight and her fight against restrictive gender roles in a time when women were not accepted as scientists.

This book deals with gender roles, tolerance, open-mindedness and independence.

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Quiet Blue sometimes wishes he could be more sunny, bright or regal like his friends because bully Red picked on shy Blue. One unites all the colours and shows them how to stand up to Red and be counted.

Read to discuss tolerance, cause & effect, bullying, being principled, respect and conflict resolution.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

In The Gambia, Isatou Ceesay changes the way people use plastic bags by finding a way to recycle them. She empowers women to make new items to sell and earn an independent income.

Promotes activism, the environment, recycling and pollution.

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.

Red by Jan De Kinder

At first, a girl finds it funny when another student is teased for blushing. Soon, she realises she must stand against the bully but is fearful. Through her compassion and integrity, she finds the courage to do what is right.

Use to teach inferring, integrity, courage, compassion, and social justice.

The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin

In this Native American version of Cinderella, two sisters want to marry an invisible man, but they have to prove they can see him, which they can’t. It is their sister, a rough-faced girl, who can see him and marries him.

Use to discuss appreciation and that people shouldn’t be judged on their appearance.

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

A rude cake that doesn’t share and has a lack of manners soon gets its comeuppance. It is abducted by a polite cyclops who teaches the rude cake the importance of saying please!

Read to discuss being principled, sharing and social awareness.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts

Observant Sally notices everything, particularly bullying in the playground. Despite being small she makes a big difference by standing up to the bullies.

Read during back to school to discuss bullying, compassion, being principled, respect, tolerance and character traits.

Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol by Michael G. Long

A history of how the peace symbol became a powerful icon. Designed over 60 years ago in London by activist Gerald Holtom to protest against nuclear weapons. The book follows as people used the symbol in marches and peaceful protests around the world, including the end of apartheid, the falling of the Berlin Wall and Black Lives Matters.

Read to discuss activism, symbolism, social justice, and peace.

Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine

In rural Mexico, Rosalinda wakes to find a Night Man has taken lemons from her much loved lemon tree. She discovers the man selling her lemons but realises he had a need to do this. With this new understanding, she gives away her lemons, including to the Night Man.

Read to discuss compassion, forgiveness, generosity, poverty, being principled and thankfulness.

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles use their integrity and willpower when they find a hat in the middle of the desert. The tension and humour builds in three parts, concluding with a spectacular ending.

Promotes perspectives, friendships and responsible decision-making.

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 witnesses the cheating and the unicorn is rewarded for its integrity.

Promotes responsible decision-making, being principled and sportsmanship.

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

An African folktale about how the actions of one mosquito causes the sun not to rise. As punishment, the mosquito buzzes in people’s ears to ask if everyone is still angry. Promotes cause & effect and integrity.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

Audrey lived in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement. She saw first-hand the mistreatment and discrimination of people because of their skin color. Despite knowing the dangers, she marched to end segregation after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King talk. Audrey Faye Hendrick, at nine, was the youngest child arrested and placed in jail.

This powerful book about a young girl taking a stand will help children realize they too have a voice, no matter their age.

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What Next?

Using these picture books about integrity will help your students identify principled behavior and see the consequences of such actions. Also, Learning to Give have a lesson plan on Living Integrity for grades 6, 7, and 8.

What books do you use in the classroom to promote integrity and a principled attitude? Add them to the comments!

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