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15 Amazing Picture Books Perfect For Teaching What Character Traits Are

Looking for books to teach character traits? Teaching about the character traits of a person are can be tricky. But if you can provide a variety of examples, your students will grow in their understanding. That’s where I come in! 

Why Should I Use Picture Books?

  •  Picture books are able to be read aloud in a few minutes. This allows you plenty of time to discuss the character’s actions and emotions. 
  • You can read the story during your read-aloud time! 
  • Having common stories all the students know allows them to make connections between different characters and books.

Questions To Help Students Figure Out the Character Traits of a Person

  • How do you think the character is feeling at this moment?
  • What did the character say or do that were clues for you?
  • How did the character handle the problem?
  • Did the character’s feelings change by the end of the story? How?
  • What caused the character’s behavior to change?
  • List 3 positive character traits of a character
  • List 3 negative character traits of a character
  • Which trait is the most important to the character?
  • Does this character remind you of a character from another book?

My Favorite Books To Teach Character Traits

More Than Anything Else book cover and list of 4 character traits - determined, optimistic, hard-working, dedicated.

More Than Anything Else – by Maria Bradby

A young boy growing up in the mid-1800s is determined to change his life. He knows that learning to read is the key that will open doors of opportunity for him that his father never had. This story is based upon Booker T. Washington.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun book cover and list of 4 character traits - unique, sensitive, unkind, and brave.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun – by Maria Dismondy

Lucy was raised to treat all people with respect. Unfortunately, one of her classmates enjoys making fun of her. Your students will relate to the challenge Lucy faces when being bullied at school.

Grab my Book Companion for Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day book cover and list of 4 character traits - frustrated, unhappy, irritable, and annoyed

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – by Judith Viorst.

I think we can all relate to Alexander. Some days, nothing seems to go right. Your students will relate to all the feelings. When we are having a rough day, we refer to this title.

Leah's Pony book cover and list of 4 character traits - devoted, generous, loyal, and caring.

Leah’s Pony – by Elizabeth Friedrich

Leah’s family was facing hard times. The drought had a devastating impact on their farm. This story will touch your heart.

I created a Book Companion unit for Leah’s Pony. It is available here.

The Royal Bee book cover and list of 4 character traits - modest, determined, intelligent, and honest

The Royal Bee – by Frances Park

During the late 19th century a  young Korean boy desperately wants to learn to read and write. However, at this time, only wealthy families could afford to send their sons to school. Song-ho shows dedication and courage in this biographical story.

Chester book cover and list of 4 character traits

Chester – by Mélanie Watt

This story is written from the point of view of Mélanie’s cat Chester. Your students will love the humor throughout the book as Chester tries to upstage his owner time and time again.

Skippyjon Jones – by Judy Schachner

Here is another story that will make your students laugh. Skippyjon is a Siamese cat with an overactive imagination. Each book in this series will offer plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish as well as identify character traits!

The Wolf Who Cried Boy – by Bob Hartman

This fun story is a parody of the famous fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Little Wolf is a very picky eater. All he wanted to eat was Boy! Boy Chops, Boys-n-Berry Pie, or Baked Boy-tato. But to his dismay, boys are hard to come by. Find out how Little Wolf tries to solve his problem.

The Art Lesson – by Tomie dePaola

Young Tomie always knew he wanted to be an artist. This autobiographical story will offer many ideas for character trait words. 

Thunder Cake – by Patricia Polacco

A young girl is supported by her grandmother to help her overcome her fear of thunderstorms. Based upon the author’s childhood with her Babushka.

For more ways to use this story, check out my THUNDER CAKE book companion unit too!

Lon Po Po –  by Ed Young

This  Chinese version of Little Red-Riding Hood provides examples of positive and negative character traits. 

Fin M’Coul – by Tomie dePaola

Here is an Irish folktale retold by Tomie dePaola. You can describe how clever Oonagh was to trick Cucullin. Her husband Fin lets his fears guide his decisions. There are many examples of character traits among these characters.

Beatrice's Goat book cover and list of 4 character traits

Beatrice’s Goat – by Page McBrier

This inspiring story is based upon a true person. Beatrice lived in a poor village in Uganda. This book explains how kindness and generosity can make a significant impact on the life of someone else.

Dear Mr. Blueberry book cover and list of 4 character traits

Dear Mr. Blueberry – by Simon James

Emily exchanges letters with her teacher while they are on summer break. Emily is convinced there is a whale living in her pond. This story is filled with imagination, patience, and friendship.

My Mouth is a Volcano book cover and list of 4 character traits

My Mouth Is A Volcano – by Julia Cook

This book is great for discussing classroom behavior as much as identifying character traits. This read-aloud will give you plenty to talk about!

If you can’t find these books in your library, I have included links to Amazon.  

What are some of your favorite picture books to teach character traits? Share yours in the comment section below!

Want More Ways to Teach Character Traits?

5 Easy Ways to Teach What Character Traits Are

Alison Monk

When I started teaching, I quickly realized that student teaching didn't prepare me for the real challenges of being alone in a classroom full of young children. The learning curve was steep and time was limited. That is why I created the Literacy Garden. My hope is this will be a place for inspiration, mentoring, and connecting.

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  • […] your read-aloud time. So many great books lend themselves to this topic. I wrote this post about my 15 Favorite Books for Teaching Character Traits if you’d like some […]

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    Hi! I'm Alison

    My #1 passion is all things literacy! I'm a curriculum creator and literacy specialist who loves to share creative and engaging ways to grow your students and are easy to implement. You can expect to find teaching tips to boost your confidence and grow your learners. You don't have to do this alone! I'm the support you've been looking for. I'm so glad you are here!

    About the Literacy Garden

    When I started teaching, I quickly realized that student teaching didn't prepare me for the real challenges of being alone in a classroom full of young children. The learning curve was steep and time was limited. That is why I created the Literacy Garden. My hope is this will be a place for inspiration, mentoring, and connecting.

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