Resources I -- Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen

Books That Can Support Character Development

The books in this section are arranged alphabetically by author. They are separated into three lists according to age group: Beginning (ages 1-6); Intermediate (ages 6-9); and Advanced (ages 9 and up). Please note that the age levels overlap and should be viewed only as rough guides—some books may appeal to younger or older children as well as those in the age group indicated.

Each entry notes the quality or qualities of character that the book illustrates. Some entries also indicate books that are available in Spanish, although all available titles may not be noted. Several books may also be available in other languages. Please check with your local librarian to find more books in a particular language.

Ages 1-6

Andersen, Hans Christian. The Emperor's New Clothes. (Various editions). [Honesty]

Barbour, Karen. Mr. Bow Tie. San Diego: Harcourt, 1991. [Compassion]

Baylor, Byrd. I'm in Charge of Celebrations. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. New York: Aladdin Library, 1995. [Respect for Others]

Brisson, Pat. The Year My Father Was Ten. Illustrated by Andrea Shine. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press, 1998. [Honesty; Responsibility; Good Judgment]

Brott, Ardyth. Jeremy's Decision. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko. New York: Kane/Miller, 1996. [Self-respect; Good Judgment; Courage]

Burleigh, Bob. Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindberg. Illustrated by Mike Wimmer. New York: Putnam, 1997. [Courage; Self-respect; Good Judgment]

Burton, Virginia L. Katy and the Big Snow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. [Courage; Responsibility]

Catrow, David. We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2002. [Citizenship]

Cheney, Lynne V. America: A Patriotic Primer. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. [Citizenship]

Demi. The Empty Pot. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1996. [Honesty]

Dorros, Arthur. Abuela. Illustrated by Elisa Kleven. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1997. (English/Spanish) [Responsibility; Good Judgment]

Dr. Seuss. Horton Hatches the Egg. (Various editions.) [Responsibility; Compassion]

Family Pictures/Cuadros de Familia. Illustrated by Carmen L. Garza. Berkeley, CA: Children's Book Press, 1993. (English/Spanish) [Responsibility]

Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. New York: Kane/Miller, 1985. [Compassion; Responsibility]

Freedman, Florence B. Brothers: A Hebrew Legend. New York: HarperCollins, 1985. [Responsibility; Compassion]

Gantschev, Ivan. The Christmas Train. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1984. [Courage]

Griffith, Helen V. Granddaddy's Place. Illustrated by James Stevenson. New York: Greenwillow, 1987. [Responsibility; Respect for Others; Good Judgment]

Grimm's Fairy Tales. (Various editions.) Look for the following tales in particular:
     "The Brave Little Tailor" [Courage];
     "The Bremen Town Musicians" [Courage; Compassion]
     "The Elves & the Shoemaker" [Compassion; Responsibility]
     "The Fisherman & His Wife" [Compassion; Good Judgment]

Hazen, Barbara Shook. Even If I Did Something Awful? Illustrated by Nancy Kincade. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. [Honesty]

Hendershot, Judith. In Coal Country. Illustrated by Thomas B. Allen. New York: Knopf, 1987. [Responsibility]

Henkes, Kevin. Chrysanthemum. New York: Mulberry Books, 1996. [Courage; Self-respect]

Hoberman, Mary Ann. And to Think That We Thought That We'd Never Be Friends. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. New York: Crown Books, 1999. [Respect for Others; Compassion; Good Judgment]

Hodges, Margaret. Saint George and the Dragon. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1990. [Courage; Responsibility]

The Hole in the Dike. (Various editions.) [Courage; Responsibility; Citizenship]

Jakes, John. Susanna of the Alamo: A True Story. San Diego: Harcourt, 1986. [Courage; Citizenship]

Kalman, Maria. Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. New York: Putnam, 2002. [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Lee, Hector Viveros. Yo Tenia Un Hipopótamo. (Spanish) Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1997. [Respect for Others; Compassion]

Lionni, Leo. A Color of His Own. New York: Dragonfly, 1997. [Self-respect; Good Judgment]

——————. Swimmy. New York: Knopf, 1992. (Also available in Spanish.) [Courage]

Lobel, Arnold. Frog & Toad Are Friends. New York: HarperCollins, 1970. [Compassion; Courage; Respect for Others]

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Hiawatha. (Various editions.) [Courage; Responsibility]

Luttrell, Ida. Three Good Blankets. Illustrated by Michael McDermott. New York: Macmillan Child Group, 1990. [Compassion; Respect for Others]

Martin, Bill, Jr. and Archambault, John. Knots on a Counting Rope. Illustrated by Ted Rand. New York: Owlet, 1997. (Also available in Spanish.) [Courage; Responsibility]

Maestro, Betsy. Coming to America. Illustrated by Susannah Ryan. New York: Scholastic, 1996. [Citizenship]

McKissack, Patricia C. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth. Illustrated by Giselle Potter. New York: Atheneum, 2000. [Honesty]

McPhail, David. Annie & Co. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1991. [Respect for Others]

Miles, Miska. Annie & the Old One. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1972. [Responsibility; Respect for Others]

Mosel, Arlene. Tikki Tikki Tembo. Illustrated by Blair Lent. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1988. [Responsibility]

Munsch, Robert. La Princesa Con Una Bolsa de PapelVestida/Paperbag Princess. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko. New York: Firefly Books, 1986. (Spanish/English) [Courage; Responsibility]

Olson, Arielle N. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter. Illustrated by Elaine Wentworth. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1987. [Courage; Responsibility; Good Judgment]

Osborne, Mary Pope. New York's Bravest. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. New York: Knopf, 2002. [Courage]

Paul, Ann Whitford. All By Herself: 14 Girls Who Made a Difference. New York: Harcourt, 1999. [Courage; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Piper, Watty. The Little Engine That Could. (Various editions.) (Also available in Spanish.) [Courage; Responsibility]

Polacco, Patricia. Chicken Sunday. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991. [Responsibility]

Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. New York: Crown, 1991. [Self-discipline; Respect for Others]

Rodriguez, Luis J. La Llaman América/America Is Her Name. Illustrated by Carlos Vazquez. (Spanish/English) St. Paul, MN: Curbstone Press, 1998. [Courage; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

San Sousi, Robert D. The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. New York: Dial Books, 1989. [Courage; Compassion]

Schindel, John. Who Are You? Illustrated by James Watts. New York: Macmillan Child Group, 1991. [Responsibility; Respect for Others]

Singer, Isaac Bashevis. Why Noah Chose the Dove. Illustrated by Eric Carle. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1987. (Also available in Spanish.) [Responsibility]

Steig, William. Brave Irene. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986. (Also available in Spanish.) [Responsibility; Courage; Good Judgment]

Steptoe, John. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. New York: Lothrop, 1987. [Compassion; Respect for Others]

Williams, Vera B. Cherries & Cherry Pits. New York: Greenwillow, 1986. [Responsibility; Compassion; Respect for Others]

Yashima, Taro. Crow Boy. New York: Viking, 1955. [Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Zolotow, Charlotte. The Quarreling Book. Illustrated by Arnold Lobel. New York: HarperCollins, 1982. [Compassion; Respect for Others]

Ages 6-9

Aardema, Verna. Pedro and the Padre: A Tale from Jalisco, Mexico. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1991. (Also available in Spanish.) [Honesty]

Aesop's Fables. (Various editions.) [Responsibility; Compassion]

Andersen, Hans Christian. Fairy Tales. (Various editions.) [Courage; Compassion; Responsibility]

Atwater, Richard and Atwater, Florence. Mr. Popper's Penguins. Illustrated by Robert Lawson. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1988. [Compassion]

Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986. [Self-respect; Responsibility]

Bennett, William J. The Children's Book of America. Illustrated by Michael Hague. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. [Citizenship; Responsibility]

——————. The Children's Book of Virtues. Illustrated by Michael Hague. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. [Honesty; Responsibility; Compassion; Respect for Others; Self-respect; Good Judgment]

Blos, Joan W. A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32. New York: Macmillan Child Group, 1979. [Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Brink, Carol R. Caddie Woodlawn. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. New York: Aladdin Library, 1990. [Responsibility; Respect for Others]

Bulla, Clyde Robert. The Chalk Box Kid. Illustrated by Thomas B. Allen. New York: Random House, 1987. [Courage; Good Judgment]

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden. (Various editions; available in English and Spanish.) [Compassion; Courage]

Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey. Illustrated by Carl Burger. New York: Bantam, 1990. [Self-discipline; Courage]

Castaneda, Omar S. Abuela's Weave. Illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez. New York: Lee & Low Books, 1993. [Self-discipline; Courage]

Chaikin, Miriam. Exodus. Illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak. New York: Holiday House, 1987. [Courage; Good Judgment]

Chin, Charlie. China's Bravest Girl: The Legend of Hua Mu Lan. Illustrated by Tomie Arai. Berkeley, CA: Children's Book Press, 1997. (Available in English and Chinese.) [Courage; Self-discipline; Good Judgment]

Colum, Padraic (Ed.). The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy. Illustrated by Willy Pagany. New York: Macmillan Child Group, 1982. [Responsibility; Respect for Others]

Cosby, Bill. My Big Lie. Illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood. New York: Cartwheel Books, 1999. [Honesty; Responsibility; Good Judgment]

Cowley, Joy. Big Moon Tortilla. Illustrated by Dyanne Strongbow. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press, 2002. [Compassion; Self-discipline]

Crew, Gary. Bright Star. Illustrated by Anne Spudvilas. New York: Kane/Miller, 1997. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Dalgliesh, Alice. The Courage of Sarah Noble. Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. New York: Macmillan Child Group, 1986. [Courage; Respect for Others; Good Judgment]

D'Aulaire, Ingri and D'Aulaire, Edgar P. Book of Greek Myths. New York: Doubleday, 1980. [Courage; Honesty; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

DeJong, Meindert. The House of Sixty Fathers. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. New York: Harper Trophy, 1987. [Compassion; Courage; Responsibility]

dePaola, Tomie. Now One Foot, Now the Other. New York: Putnam 1991. [Responsibility; Compassion; Respect for Others]

Du Bois, William P. The Twenty-One Balloons. New York: Puffin, 1986. [Courage]

Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. San Diego: Harcourt, 1974. [Courage; Good Judgment]

George, Jean C. My Side of the Mountain. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 2000. [Self-discipline; Courage]

Guthrie, Woody. This Land Is Your Land. Illustrated by Kathy Jacobsen. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1998. [Citizenship]

Hahn, Mary D. Stepping on the Cracks. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991. [Citizenship; Compassion; Courage]

Harper, Jessica. I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat Today. Illustrated by Lindsay Harper DuPont. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. [Compassion; Respect for Others; Good Judgment]

Henry, Marguerite. Misty of Chincoteague. Illustrated by Wesley Dennis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990. [Respect for Others; Courage]

Hoffman, Mary. Amazing Grace. Illustrated by Caroline Binch. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1991. [Self-discipline; Courage]

Lamb, Charles and Lamb, Mary. Tales from Shakespeare. (Various editions.) [Compassion; Courage; Citizenship]

Lewis, C. S. The Chronicles of Narnia series. (Various editions.) [Respect for Others; Courage; Self-discipline]

Loewen, Nancy. We Live Here Too! Kids Talk about Good Citizenship. Illustrated by Brandon Reibeling. New York: Picture Window Books, 2002. [Citizenship]

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Luenn, Nancy. Nessa's Fish. New York: Atheneum, 1990. [Compassion; Courage]

MacDonald, George. The Princess and the Goblin. (Various editions.) [Compassion; Courage]

MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. New York: HarperCollins, 1985. [Courage; Respect for Others; Honesty; Self-discipline; Good Judgment]

Maestro, Betsy and Maestro, Giulio. A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution. New York: Morrow, 1990. [Citizenship]

Matsuno, M. A Pair of Red Clogs. New York: The World Publishing Co., 1960. [Honesty; Courage; Self-discipline; Good Judgment]

Moore, Eva. Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog. Illustrated by Don Bolognese. New York: Scholastic, 1996. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Myers, Walter D. Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. [Courage]

Paek, Min. Aekyung's Dream. Berkeley, CA: Children's Book Press, 1988. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows. New York: Random House, 1984. [Courage; Responsibility]

Ryan, Pam M. The Flag We Love. Illustrated by Ralph Masiello. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000. [Citizenship]

Say, Allen. El Chino. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Sewall, Marcia. The Pilgrims of Plymouth. New York: Aladdin Library, 1996. [Courage; Citizenship; Compassion; Respect for Others]

Shamat, Marjorie W. A Big Fat Enormous Lie. Illustrated by David M. McPhail. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1993. [Honesty; Responsibility; Good Judgment]

Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree. New York: HarperCollins, 1987. (Also available in Spanish.) [Compassion]

Stuart, Jesse. A Penny's Worth of Character. Ashland, KY: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1988. [Honesty; Courage]

Tales of the Arabian Nights. (Various editions.) [Courage; Respect for Others; Self-discipline]

Talley, Linda. Plato's Journey. Illustrated by Itoko Maeno. New York: Marsh Media, 1998. [Honesty]

White, E. B. Charlotte's Web. Illustrated by Garth Williams. (Various editions.) [Compassion; Responsibility; Respect for Others]

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House series. Illustrated by Garth Williams. (Various editions.) [Responsibility; Courage; Honesty]

Ages 9 and up

Acierno, Maria Armengol. Children of Flight Pedro Pan. New York, Silver Moon Press, 1994. (Spanish/English) [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. (Various editions.) [Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Arnold, Caroline. Children of the Settlement Houses. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 1998. [Compassion; Courage; Self-discipline]

Avi. Nothing but the Truth. New York: Orchard Books, 1991. [Self-discipline; Responsibility; Citizenship]

Bauer, Marion D. On My Honor. New York: Yearling Books, 1987. [Responsibility; Honesty; Good Judgment]

Brooks, Bruce. The Moves Make the Man. New York: Harper Trophy, 1996. [Honesty; Courage; Responsibility; Good Judgment]

Butterworth, William. Leroy and the Old Man. New York: Scholastic, 1995. [Respect for Others; Self-respect]

Castilla, Julia Mercedes. Emilio. Houston, TX: Arte Publico Press, 1999. (Available in English and Spanish.) [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Choldenko, Gennifer. Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. New York: Putnam, 2001. [Honesty; Good Judgment]

Clifton, Lucille. The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1992. (Also available in Spanish.) [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

The Constitution of the United States of America. (Various editions.) [Citizenship]

Cousins, Margaret. The Story of Thomas Alva Edison. New York: Random House, 1997. [Courage; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. (Various editions.) [Self-discipline]

de Saint-Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince. (Various editions.) [Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. (Various editions.) [Compassion; Self-discipline]

Dodge, Mary M. Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates. (Various editions.) [Courage; Self-discipline; Honesty; Good Judgment]

Fitzpatrick, Marie-Louise. Long March: The Choctaw's Gift to Irish Famine Relief. Tricycle Press, 2001. [Compassion; Courage]

Fox, Paula. One-Eyed Cat. New York: Aladdin Library, 2000. [Responsibility; Honesty]

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. (Various editions.) [Courage; Compassion; Responsibility]

Franklin, Benjamin. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. (Various editions.) [Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Hamilton, Virginia. The House of Dies Drear. Illustrated by Eros Keith. New York: Macmillan Child Group, 1984. [Courage; Compassion]

Henry, O. Stories. (Various editions.) [Compassion; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Herrera, Juan Felipe. Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: A Carcajadas Yo Vuelo (poetry). Illustrated by Karen Barbour. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. (Spanish/English) [Courage; Respect for Others; Responsibility]

Heyerdahl, Thor. Kon-Tiki. (Various editions.) [Courage; Self-discipline]

Highwater, Jamake. Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey. Illustrated by Fritz Scholder. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Ho, Minfong. The Clay Marble. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991. [Compassion; Courage; Responsibility]

Hurwitz, Johanne. Hot and Cold Winter. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1988. [Honesty; Responsibility]

Keller, Helen. Story of My Life. (Various editions.) [Courage; Self-discipline]

Kipling, Rudyard. Captains Courageous. New York: Classic Books, 2000. [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. (Various editions.) [Courage; Citizenship; Responsibility]

Lord, Bette Bao. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Illustrated by Marc Simont. New York: Harper Trophy, 1986. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Milton, Joyce. Marching to Freedom: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. New York, Yearling Books, 1987. [Courage; Citizenship; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Eddie, Incorporated. Illustrated by Blanche Sims. New York: Atheneum, 1980. [Self-discipline]

New York Times Staff. The New York Times: A Nation Challenged, Young Reader's Edition. New York: Scholastic, 2002. [Courage; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

O'Dell, Scott. Sing Down the Moon. New York: Laurel Leaf, 1999. [Courage; Self-discipline]

Orczy, Emmuska. The Scarlet Pimpernel. (Various editions.) [Responsibility; Courage; Self-discipline]

Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. Illustrated by Donna Diamond. New York: Harper Trophy, 1987. [Courage; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. New York: Pocket Books, 1999. [Courage; Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Soto, Gary. The Skirt. Illustrated by Eric Velesquez. New York: Yearling Books, 1994. (Also available in Spanish.) [Honesty; Responsibility; Respect for Others; Good Judgment]

Speare, Elizabeth G. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. New York: Dell, 1972. [Respect for Others; Compassion; Self-discipline]

Steele, Christy, Bunkers, Suzanne L. and Graves, Kerry (Eds.). A Free Black Girl before the Civil War: The Diary of Charlotte Forten, 1854. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth Books, 1999. [Courage; Responsibility]

Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. (Various editions; also available in Spanish.) [Courage; Responsibility; Self-discipline]

Thimmesh, Catherine. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. [Self-discipline; Responsibility]

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (Various editions.) [Self-discipline; Responsibility; Compassion]

Uchida, Yoshika. Journey to Topaz. Illustrated by Donald Carrick. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1988. [Courage; Self-discipline]

White, E. B. The Trumpet of the Swan. (Various editions.) [Compassion]

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Last Modified: 10/08/2003