Responsible Decision-Making Books for the Classroom
These responsible decision-making books illustrate characters taking responsibility by following rules, being accountable for their actions and thinking about the consequences before they act.
Social and Emotional Learning: Responsible Decision-Making
Responsible decision-making is “the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.” CASEL
Younger children often act without thinking and don't always see the effect of their decisions. The goal is to help them plan and consider the consequences of their actions on others.
We all make choices every day, some thought through and others more impulsive. Some decisions are easy, while others are complex. And we need to take responsibility for our actions. It isn't easy for children to understand they are accountable for their actions and dealing with others and think about the consequences before acting or speaking.
Why Read Responsible Decision-Making Books?
These picture books about responsible decision-making reinforce the importance of taking responsibility and understanding actions have consequences. They focus on following rules, taking on new responsibilities and being accountable for their actions, especially when they don't make good choices.
In these responsible decision-making books, you will find characters who are working towards:
- Making positive decisions about personal behaviour and social interactions.
- Considering the well-being of themselves and others.
- Brainstorming different strategies or solutions to a task.
- Reflecting and evaluating actions to meet set goals.
- Identifying rules and social norms of behaviour.
- Understanding the consequences of a particular course of action.
- Making appropriate and constructive choices about behaviour and interactions.
- Considering a situation and making appropriate decisions.
- Being proud of their choices.
- Realising not all decisions will be easy.
- Being aware of positive and negative consequences to decision-making.
Questions to use with Responsible Decision-Making Books
- Did [character] make the best decision under the circumstances? Why?
- Did [character's] emotions affect their decision-making?
- What was [character's] motivation for making that decision?
- Do you think the outcome was what [character] hoped for? Why or why not?
- Did [character] think about the consequences of their decision? What could they have done?
- Could [character] have made a better decision? Why?
- What should [character] have thought about before making such a decision?
- Will the results of [character's] decision impact the other characters or the environment? How?
- Who could [character] have discussed their idea before making a decision? Would it have made a difference?
- Will this decision help [character] reach their goal(s)?
- Is this a decision [character] can be proud of? Why or why not?
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Responsible Decision-Making Books
Babu's Song by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
Bernardi lives in Tanzania with his mute grandfather, Babu, who makes toys. He gives Bernardi a handmade music box. Sadly, when a tourist offers a lot of money for the box, he sells it. Bernardi hands over the money to his grandfather, who uses the money for his grandson to attend school.
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L. King
Claire Malone takes on the burden of addressing problems in the world. She does all she can to make changes, but it doesn’t work out the way she wants. Before burning out from the worry, she decides to work on issues closer to home and even learns to have fun.
The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool
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.
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, the magic continues.
Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo
A small animal appeals to the larger animals of the city not to ignore the flooding that started overnight. As the water rises, the larger animals go about their business, ignoring the issues faced by the smaller animals. When the flood becomes a problem for everyone, they all work together to save their city.
A Forest by Marc Martin
A forest peacefully grows for thousands of years until people begin to chop down its trees. In its place grows a city and its factories. The consequences of deforestation are devastating when a flood destroys the town. A lone tree is left standing and gradually becomes part of a new forest.
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
A girl wants to buy a new bike but doesn't have enough money. She helps her elderly neighbour by doing yard work and developing a new friendship. When she has enough money, she rushes to the shop to buy the bike, but to her dismay, it has gone.
This wordless book shows how the girl's hard work and perseverance are rewarded.
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers
This is the first of two cause and effect picture books by Oliver Jeffers. To their dismay, residents of a forest notice that something is chopping down trees. As they attempt to solve the mystery, they accuse each other before working together to find the culprit. The culprit turns out to be a bear obsessed with becoming a champion aeroplane maker.
The Herd Boy by Niki Daly
Malsui, a herd boy, watches his flock every day but dreams of being President of South Africa. On his way home from rescuing his herd from a group of baboons a large, shiny car passes him. As the window winds down, he sees the man inside is Nelson Mandela who encourages Malsui to follow his dream.
Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter
A New York town disposes of their rubbish on a barge but as the boat proceeds down the coast every port refuses to accept the cargo. For 162 days, Cap’n Duffy tugged the stinky garbage around until it disposed of its smelly load back in New York.
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
This is the second of two cause and effect picture books by Oliver Jeffers. Travel over mountains and oceans, space and constellations, and the animals and people who populate the Earth. The handwritten facts throughout the book are a gentle plea to care for the planet and each other.
I Want My Hat Back 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.
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.
The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett
The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones
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 to get a new pair of Geta but soon realises honesty is the best way to go.
Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
A girl picks colourful flowers poking up through the cracks in the pavement. She places her flowers on a dead sparrow, a sleeping man and into a dog’s collar. She places flowers in her mother’s hair and a few on her brother’s head at home.
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Jeremy is mortified when his shoes fall apart, and the school counsellor provides an unstylish replacement. He finds a second-hand pair of ‘those shoes’, but they are too small. After some reflection, he passes the sneakers to a young child who Jeremy realises needs them more than him.
Tidy by Emily Gravett
This is the second of two cause and effect picture books by Emily Gravett. Pete the Badger likes everything clean and neat. He takes this too far when he tidies up the forest by concreting it over. After realising the consequences of his actions, he sets out to rectify them.
The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French
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. He tells her to plant the lemon seeds while the lemon moon is in the sky.
The Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race by James Thorp
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers
Find out what it means to be a good citizen. Different children show how their actions generate an active and supportive community. Practical ways to change the world positively include picking up litter, planting a seed, helping a neighbour, joining a cause and writing a letter.
Would You Rather… by John Burningham
John Burningham gives the reader endless choices of what they would rather do, including having a hippo sleeping in their bed or eating mashed worms. The possibilities are fun, scary, disgusting and silly.
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Teaching responsible decision-making takes time. Using picture books reinforces the importance of taking responsibility by following rules, being accountable for their actions, and thinking about the consequences before they act.
What responsible decision-making books do you use in the classroom?
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