One of my favorite lessons in my book Powerful Understanding is the lesson that introduces children to their “moral compass” – that internal voice inside each of us that can help “give us direction” when we are trying to make a moral decision. We often experience moments in our lives when we are faced with the age old question: Should I or shouldn’t I?
Here are my top ten books to teach the concept of “paying attention to your moral compass”. In each story, the character is faced with a dilemma, and a choice to make. All of these books invite conversations about the stages of a moral dilemma: the temptation, the choice, the guilt, taking responsibility, and finally, the restitution or making amends. Great books for reading aloud, pausing, and asking the students – “What would you do?”
I Really Want That Cake! – Simon Phillip
Hilarious story of a little girl is told NOT to eat the cake her mother just made. The temptation becomes too great and she ends up eating the entire thing! She makes amends by owning up to her decision and baking a new cake.
Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It – Michael Caplan
Another book that will have your students giggling! Betty Bunny accidently breaks a lamp but ends up blaming the Tooth Fairy! A great story about the value of honesty.
I Did It, I’m Sorry! – Caralyn Buehner
A unique book full of little scenarios with moral dilemmas. The book asks the reader to pick A, B, or C — three different ways to deal with the problem. Great for conversations and role playing.
Sarah’s Little Ghosts – Thierry Robberecht
When Sarah breaks her mother’s favorite necklace, she tells lies to cover it up. But everytime she tells a little ghost pops out of her mouth! Every new lie Sarah tells, another ghost appears. Not until she tells the truth do the little ghosts disappear.
The Summer My Father Was Ten – Pat Brisson
A young boy and his friends completely destroy a lonely neighbour’s vegetable garden while playing baseball. I have read this book to countless of intermediate students and each time, there are gasps of horror when Mr. Belavista walks in on their game and sees his beloved garden destroyed. An excellent story about taking responsibility and making amends.
A Bike Like Sergio’s – Maribeth Boelts
Finders keepers, right? When Ruben picks up someone’s lost money, he discovers how hard it can be to do the right thing. Another well read book in my collection, I love how this book really explores and acknowledges the complexity of emotions one faces when faced with trying to do the right thing.
A Big Fat Enormous Lie – Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Similar premise to Sarah’s Little Ghosts, a boy’s little lie comes alive in the form of a monster who grows and grows until he finds the only way to make it go away is to tell the truth.
Strega Nona – Tomie de Paola
Oh, the temptation of magic, pasta, and adoration of others! In the beloved classic tale, we experience, first hand, Big Anthony’s moral compass pointing in the wrong direction when it comes to not touching Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot. Poor Anthony will never eat pasta again!
Ruthie and the Not So Teeny Tiny Lie – Laura Rankin
Ruthie loves teeny tiny things. When she finds a teeny tiny camera on the school playground, she can hardly believe her luck. She wants to keep the camera in the worst way, but there’s one little problem: It isn’t hers. And so she lies. An endearing story and an even more endearing character!
The Emperor gives all the children in the land a seed and tells them that the one who grows the most beautiful flower will become the next Emperor. A young boy works tirelessly to tend his seed, but nothing grows. He returns to the king, among the other children’s beautiful flowers, with an empty pot. To his surprise, he is rewarded for his honesty. I LOVE this book for introducing moral compass, integrity, honesty and courage.