Finding the right books to teach character traits can be tricky! Don’t worry – I’ve compiled a list to help you choose the right mentor texts. Check out my list of must have books to teach character traits below!
I’m sharing all of these books on video as well! Check out the Books to Teach Character Traits video on my Youtube channel.
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Books to Teach Character Traits
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
This mentor text tells of a young mouse’s journey in finding self-confidence, having been beaten down by bullies and then built up by kindness. Chrysanthemum’s confidence weakens and then grows strong again over the course of this mentor text!
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
All Jeremy wants is a pair of Those Shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. But Jeremy’s grandma tells him they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” and what Jeremy needs are new boots for winter.
When Jeremy’s shoes fall apart at school, and the guidance counselor gives him a hand-me-down pair, the boy is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy comes to realize that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
The Invisible Boy tells the story of a quiet young boy who is overlooked in the classroom. Brian is shy and no one (including the teacher) pays him much attention. When a new student joins the class, the other kids make fun of him. But Brian reaches out to him with a kind note. The two become friends and Brian is no longer invisible.
Grab the lesson plan for The Invisible Boy here!
My favorite part of this book is that the illustration of Brian starts out in black and white. As the story goes on, he is drawn in more and more color. A great anti-bullying book for kids!
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Grace’s love of reading and role-play motivates her to audition for the role of Peter Pan in the school play. The other children tell her she can’t play a boys part. Her mama and Nana tell her she can be anything she wants, helping her find the confidence to audition and win the role of Peter Pan.
The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
Mary Walker was born into slavery in 1848, and at the age of 116 she learned to read. She witnessed the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, and through her perseverance, she showed you’re never too old to learn.
Join the Colorful Apple Book Club for The Oldest Student lesson!
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
A grumpy CJ and his nana ride a city bus full of wonderful characters. He wonders aloud why he doesn’t have the things his friends do and why they have to volunteer at the soup kitchen every week. His nana’s straightforward and positive responses help CJ see and appreciate what he has and what he can give.
The Bad Seed by Jory John
The Bad Seed is a tale of a sunflower seed that is “very baaadd” according to himself and others. His actions aren’t terrible, but they are quite rude. As the book goes on, we find out that he wasn’t always bad and we learn his heartbreaking story.
Grab the lesson plan for The Bad Seed here!
He had a loving family in his sunflower, but then he was put into a bag and almost eaten! This awful event led him to becoming “bad” by isolating himself and pushing others away.
But then he decides to make a change. He chooses to be happy to make better choices. And, while he doesn’t always get it right, he is trying to be a “good” seed!
After the Fall by Dan Santat
One of the first steps of the goal setting process is to reflect. In After the Fall, Humpty looks back on what happened to him. He thinks about the choices he made. Then he gets back up, dusts himself off and tries again. He sets a goal, collects ideas and perseveres as he puts it into action.
Grab the lesson plan for After the Fall here!
Free Picture Book List
Looking for more books to read aloud with your students? Grab this FREE list of books to teach Social Emotional Learning skills! SEL skills are more important than ever before. This book list of social emotional learning topics will make it so much easier to teach these skills to your students. The titles are split up by SEL skill and competency. This will make it easy for you to teach just one at a time!
Save this List of Books to Teach Character Traits
Be sure to save this pin to your favorite read alouds board on Pinterest! You’ll be able to come back to this book list when you are ready to read them aloud with your students.