These engaging stories teach your students the importance of respect and empathy in the classroom. Cultivate a culture of acceptance, understanding, and kindness with these inspiring picture books about respect.
Why Read Picture Books About Respect?
It is crucial to teach children to respect themselves, other people, and the world around them. We need to model a respectful attitude for children to learn. Using picture books is a great way to teach respecting ourselves, accepting differences, using respectful words and respecting the environment.
Respect is one of the most important values children can learn, and picture books are a great way to teach this important lesson. Here are some reasons why reading picture books about respect in the classroom is so important:
- Respect is a foundational value that helps children build positive relationships with others.
- picture books about respect can help children learn to identify and manage their own emotions.
- Reading picture books about respect can help children understand and empathise with the feelings of others.
- picture books about respect can help children learn to resolve conflict peacefully.
- Reading picture books about respect can help create a positive classroom environment where everyone feels valued and respected.
Picture books can help your students understand the concept of respect, how to recognise and appreciate the differences in one another, and how to respond to challenging situations without reacting negatively. They provide context and a visual representation which helps young learners better understand abstract concepts like respect.
Picture books about respecting ourselves and others also provide important lessons about self-worth, self-care, self-respect and personal boundaries. For example, a book might show characters being kind or gentle with themselves or others when dealing with difficult feelings. This teaches children that everyone has the right to be respected.
On top of that, picture books about respecting ourselves and others promote positive social skills such as active listening, empathy, cooperation, communication and problem-solving.
Questions to Ask When Reading Picture Books About Respect
- How does being respectful/disrespectful affect relationships with others?
- How do you feel when other people respect/disrespect you?
- What are some characteristics of respectful behaviour?
- What does it mean to respect ourselves?
- How do you show respect to others?
- Do we deserve respect, or do we have to earn it?
- Should you show respect to others even if you don’t like them? Explain your answer.
- Was [character] respectful/disrespectful? What is your evidence?
- How did [character] earn other people’s respect?
- How were [character’s] actions towards the environment respectful?
- Why was it important that [character] felt respected?
- Why was it important that [character] showed respect?
- In what ways did [character] show respect?
- How did [character] feel when disrespected by [character]?
- How should [character] have responded when disrespected?
- Why do you think [character] was disrespectful?
- When [character] was rude, they said they were only joking. Does this make their behaviour okay? Explain.
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Picture Books About Respect
These picture books illustrate respectful behaviour and help children look at situations from the perspective of others. They show characters who are:
- polite and use their manners
- respectful of their environment
- respectful of the property of others
- good listeners
- helpful and kind
- able to put themselves in the shoes of others
- willing to reflect on how their actions affect others
Of course, some books show disrespectful characters and the consequences of their negative behaviour.
The Coat by Séverine Vidal
Elise loves her big sister's beautiful red coat and can't wait to wear it when she is big enough. On that day, she proudly wears the coat to school. A chance encounter with a homeless mother and daughter shivering in the show makes Elise look at the coat differently and discover the joy of helping others.
Flat Rabbit by Bárður Oskarsson
A dog and a rat find a dead rabbit in the street. Wanting to honour her life, they fasten her to a kite and let her fly free, wondering if she is having a good time. Unsure of the answer, they watch as the rabbit flies away over the city. This book will not be suitable for all children. Promotes compassion, respect, questioning and well-being.
For Pete's Sake by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Pete the alligator thinks he is a flamingo, like his friends. He worries about the differences between him and his friends, but he learns that his appearance doesn't matter to his flamingo friends.
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.
I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket by Ed Young
This is the first of two books teaching students about respect by Ed Young. A doko, a Nepalese basket, tells tales of three generations of the same family. From the birth of a baby to the death of the family matriarch and the son who must stand up for his beliefs. Use this folktale to discuss respect, intergenerational relationships and different perspectives.
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?
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
This is the second of two books teaching students about respect by Ed Young. A mother leaves her three daughters at home while she visits her mother, Po Po. A wolf visits the sisters, and the younger one lets it in. The two older sisters have to devise a plan to escape and kill the wolf. Compare and contrast this Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood with other versions.
My Hair by Hannah Lee
A young black girl is excited about an upcoming celebration. She thinks of her family and friends as inspiration as she decides how to style her hair. Should she choose dreadlocks, Bantu knots, high-top fade, braids, twist-out, cornrows or short and cropped? She goes her own way and wears her natural hair as an afro.
Noisy Night by Mac Barnett
A young boy is trying to sleep in a tall apartment block. He wonders what the noise is above him. Each neighbour is wondering who is making the noise. There are dancers, cheerleaders, sheep, and many other noisemakers on the floors in between. On the top floor, a grumpy old man is trying to sleep.
Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm's Fight for Change by Tameka Fryer Brown
Shirley Chisholm was the first woman to run for the President of America, though she is much more than that. She was a pioneering politician for her constituency, for women, for fairness and her fighting spirit to be a trailblazing politician who always said she was not done yet when discussing her legacy.
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.
Piggybook by Anthony Browne
The Piggott men are chauvinistic and unappreciative of the fed-up Mrs. Piggott. She goes on strike, but the father and two boys live like pigs. They plead with her to return, and things are very different when she returns.
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.
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
Daniel and his mother watch the LA riots happening in their neighbourhood. After going to bed, they learn their building is on fire. Daniel hesitates as they evacuate because he cannot find his cat, but a firefighter later finds it.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
A local Pet Club won't allow a young boy to join with his pet elephant. Together, they help the club members understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends.
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.
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.
What Happened to You by James Catchpole
Joe loves playing pirates while dodging sharks and crocodiles. He doesn’t like answering questions about what happened to his leg. While the other children focus on his missing leg, Sonia realises this upsets Joe. She approached him and started playing pirates with him. Soon the other children join in their game.
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.
Introducing picture books into the classroom that teach about respecting ourselves and others can lead to remarkable outcomes. These books help cultivate a positive classroom environment and allow students to embrace differences and choose kindness. Picture books can also be a great way to start a conversation with students about respecting themselves and others.
After reading picture books about respect, you could look at these lesson plans from Learning for Justice – Treat Others the Way You Want to be Treated and Brush Up on Respect. Here are a couple of short videos you can use in your classroom.