With thousands of books to choose from, it can be an overwhelming task to find books to help teach character.
Here’s a few book suggestions to start conversations about caring.
Hey Little Ant by Hannah Hoose and Phillip M. Hoose
Best for: Grades Prek-3
To squish or not to squish? Readers decide the ending of this deceptively playful picture book, in which a young boy and an ant debate the value of the smaller creature’s life.
Stone Soup by Jon Muth
Best for: Grades K-3
An award-winning artist adds a Zen twist to a favorite tale. As three monks travel along a mountain road, they encounter villagers ravaged by harsh times, making them cold to strangers. When the monks entice them to make soup from stones, the villagers discover how much they have to give.
A Cricket in Time Square by George Seldon
Best for: Grades 3-5
This Newbery Honor Book tells the story of Chester, a cricket from Connecticut, and his friendship with a little boy named Mario, a mouse named Tucker, and a cat named Harry in New York’s Times Square. Chester, a musical cricket from rural Connecticut, finds himself transported (via a picnic basket) to the grit and grime of New York City. When Mario Bellini, a boy from the neighborhood, finds Chester, he raises the insect as his own. Chester soon meets Mario’s animal friends, Tucker and Harry, and learns about life on the streets. And when Mario’s parents are faced with the bankruptcy of their subway newsstand, the friends try to come up with a plan to save it from disaster.
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Best for: Grades 4-7
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
Freaks by Kieran Larwood
Best for: Grades 5-9
Sheba, the fur-faced Wolfgirl, can sniff out a threat from miles away. Monkeyboy clambers up buildings in the blink of an eye, then drops deadly stink bombs of his own making (yes, that kind)! Sister Moon sees in the dark, and moves at the speed of light. Born with weird abnormalities that make them misfits, these Freaks spend their nights on public display, trapped in a traveling Victorian sideshow. But during the day, they put their strange talents to use: They solve the most sinister crimes. And in a dank, desperate world of crooks and child-snatchers, they’re determined to defend London’s most innocent victims: the street urchins disappearing from the city’s streets.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Best for: Grades 9-12
Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun. When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Best for: Grades 9-12
Eleanor lives in a tiny house packed with younger siblings, a mother who is a shell of her former self, and a toxic stepfather. She wears thrift-store clothing embellished with her own style, is overweight, and has wild red hair. Her first day on the bus no one budges to make room for her to sit. Except Park.