Character Education: Respect Picture Books

Character education is such a valuable tool in the classroom. It’s so important to focus on your character education lessons and take advantage of the time to dive deep into building a positive classroom community. This post will focus on the character education month of respect. If you haven’t seen how I kick-off Character Education, read more about it here.

Teach valuable lessons about respect with age-appropriate books.

Today, I’ll share with you my favorite picture books for teaching respect in character education lessons. You can read a new title over the course of several weeks as you discuss respect, or you can make it part of your library or free-reads in class.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

This sweet story takes place just before Christmas, when an organ grinder and monkey appear near Frances’s apartment. When she has an opportunity to speak at the Christmas pageant, she finds the perfect words to share as she thinks of the organ grinder.

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Along with her waitress mother, a young girl saves money in a jar to someday purchase a new chair for the apartment. It’s a lovely story of a daughter, mother, and grandmother finally able to bring something comfortable into their home.

The Way I Act by Steve Metzger

This book is written in verse and covers thirteen ways of behaving in a variety of situations. Students will love these bold illustrations (and you might even enjoy the companion book The Way I Feel.)

Loser by Jerry Spinelli

A beautiful story about being uniquely you is pretty incredible. Zinkoff is pretty much like any other kid, except sometimes he’s not. Good thing he’s too busy to know he’s different, which proves to be heroic.

The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill

Mean Jean is Recess Queen in this tale with a twist on bullying. Nobody does anything without Mean Jean acting first, until a new kid shows up to school ready to dethrone Mean Jean with friendship.

The Bicycle Man by Allen Say

The amazing tricks two American soldiers perform on a borrowed bicycle fit into the school sports day festivities perfectly in this story set in an occupied village of Japan.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

This classic of Roald Dahl’s tells the tale of Matilda. She’s sweet and exceptional, but most of the adults in her life think she is a nuisance. This hard-knock life turns out to reveal an amazing power Matilda can use to fight back.

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Keller gives a playful tale about being a good neighbor and friend. Mr. Rabbit has new neighbors and they’re otters. But he doesn’t know anything about otters and isn’t sure they’ll be friends or even get along.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

It’s little red chicken’s bedtime, and Papa reminds her not to interrupt. But she just can’t help putting herself into the story. The tables turn when she gets to tell her own tale to Papa.

I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! by Julia Cook

It’s RJ’s least favorite word and he does everything he can to convince others to change it into a “maybe” or “later”. Which makes it really hard for him to accept a “no” in order to join the Star Board of the Say Yes to No Club.

I Choose to Be Respectful by Elizabeth Estrada

This is a cute rhyming story about respect and how it is earned. This book has social emotional learning (SEL) in mind. This is a lovely read to help teach coping mechanisms to your students.

But Why Can’t I? by Sue Graves

Do your students have trouble following rules? So does Noah, whose babysitter, Jenny, will show him how rules will help keep people safe, healthy, and happy.

Respect – The Best Me That I Can Be by Rose Angebrandt

Keigan made a big mistake and forgets to show respect. Throughout this story, he will learn what respect means, and how to turn a wrong into a right.

A Little Respectful SPOT: A Story About Respecting People, Places, and Things by Diane Alber

Being respectful tells people you not only care about them, but care about yourself as well. This story follows a little yellow SPOT as he shows different ways to be respectful. This is a great way to show students real-world examples of respect.

What have you enjoyed incorporating into your character education month of respect? Share your favorite read alouds, activities, and lessons with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Instagram and Facebook. You can also snag my bundle of Character Education resources here.

Character Education Curriculum: Respect

It equips you with an entire toolbox of materials to help your students develop and practice positive character traits. The comprehensive resource promotes respect and includes a variety of print and digital resources. In addition to these read aloud texts you’ve just seen, I also have bulletin boards, pacing guide, anchor chart, posters, calendars, reflection pages, and much more! 


  1. The books here are just great. I can definitely say that I have some vivid memories from kids’ books about such a simple but important issue as mutual respect. Here’s my takeaway on how to teach kids respect. Teaching children respect is a key part of parenting.
    It is important to show respect to your children, so they learn how to show respect to others. Start by setting a good example. Be respectful to your children, even when disciplining them. Show them how to treat others with kindness and respect. Encourage your children to be polite. Teach them to say “please” and “thank you”, and to use kind words when speaking to others. Remind them to be courteous and to listen when someone is speaking. Teach your children to be tolerant of others. Help them to understand that everyone is different, If you want to look at more books that teach kids respect, you’re welcome to take a look at my selection here

  2. First of all, you’re right to say that children deserve respect as well. Some people say that you don’t even need to teach kids anything, you just need to show things with your own example. But I think that reading books about respect and immersing yourself into the world of fun and exciting character would be a perfect quality time spending for you and your kids.
    I also have a collection of such books here Take a look if you need advice on that.

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