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Growing Character Together

Character Education Booklists

Students have many influences in their lives. Schools, parents (the first character developers), families, and communities all share a responsibility in developing the core values that enable students to be successful in school in life. To assist students to understand key values, the Thunder Bay Public Library has provided some lists of picture books and non-fiction titles related to the five core values identified by Lakehead Public Schools.

General books about character and conduct


Link to integrity books in the Library catalog


Picture Books dealing with the theme of integrity

The Empty Pot by Demi
When Ping admits that he is the only child in China unable to grow a flower from the seeds distributed by the Emperor, he is rewarded for his honesty. Unknown to him, the seeds had been cooked. No one could grow anything from them, although others claimed to.

Is There Really A Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis
This offers insights into the human condition. A boy wants to know about the human race. When did it start? Where is it going? Is there an obstacle course? Is he the jockey or the horse? After many such fervently asked questions, the boy's mother provides some answers and advice: "Sometimes it's better not to go fast. / There are beautiful sights to be seen when you're last." And maybe trying one's best is better than being first. There are strong messages about making the world a better place rather than just making it your oyster. Curtis' clever rhymes are brought to life in Cornell's high-energy art, which reaches a crescendo as the boy tries ever more frantically to figure out how to win the race. When Mom speaks her calming words, the pictures quiet down, giving this the peaceful ending dearly needed for overextended children--and their adults caretakers.

Mr. Belinsky's Bagels by Ellen Schwartz
Nice Mr. Belinsky has made bagels, and only bagels, for years, and he has a devoted clientele: Mrs. Alperstein likes poppy seed; tough-guy-with-a-big-heart Frankie likes onion; and Jacob, Mr. Belinsky's helper, likes pumpernickel. When a fancy bakery opens across the street, Mr. Belinsky decides to compete by making cakes and cookies. His business booms, but it isn't long before he discovers that his increased earnings are not worth the loss of his valued friends.

Snail Started It by Katja Reider
Sticks and stones will break your bones, and names will sometimes hurt you! Snail Started It! is a charming circular story that demonstrates how unkind words can damage self-esteem and kind ones restore it. It all starts when Snail calls Pig fat. Snail's remarks upset Pig, so much so that when she meets Rabbit, she insults him. He in turn insults Dog; Dog insults Spider; Spider insults Goose; and (coming full circle) Goose insults Snail. Since Snail started it all, it's up to him to set things right, initiating a similar cycle of apologies.

The Young Artist by Thomas Locker
A talented young artist, commanded to paint the king's courtiers, all of whom wish to be portrayed with improved appearances, struggles with his sense of integrity which demands honest portraiture.


Link to acceptance books in the Library catalog


Go to Sleep, Gecko! by Margaret Read MacDonald
Gecko is grumpy. The blinking lights of the fireflies fluttering outside his house are keeping him awake. Desperate for sleep, he trudges to the village chief's house and pleads with him to do something. When asked about their nocturnal activity, the fireflies explain that they need to light up the village path so everyone can see Buffalo's poop. That night, they blink their lights again, and Gecko returns to Elephant's house. Elephant explains that he talked to Buffalo, who fills up the holes that Rain washes out, and to the fireflies, urging them to continue blinking their lights. This nightly ritual continues, with Gecko appealing to Elephant until he realizes that he would not have any mosquitoes to eat if the natural cycle of life were to be interrupted. Accepting the fact that some things are just the way they are, the lizard is able to sleep peacefully once again.

Lemon the Duck by Laura Backman
Ms. Lake and her class conduct an egg-hatching project in school and on the big day, welcome four little ducklings into the world. The students soon realize that the soft yellow one they named Lemon looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but can’t stand up and walk like a duck. They worry that Lemon won't be happy if she can't do all the things ducks love to do, and work together to help Lemon thrive. Through caring for Lemon, the students share in her victories and learn that acceptance, love, and extra special care can go a long way. They also come to understand that her difference doesn’t make Lemon any less special.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Krause
Leo isn’t reading, or writing, or drawing, or even speaking, and his father is concerned. But Leo’s mother isn’t. She knows her son will do all those things, and more, when he’s ready. ‘Reassuring for other late bloomers, this book is illustrated with beguiling pictures

The White Raven and the Black Sheep by Eugen Sopko
A white raven and a black sheep, each an outcast because he is a different color from his fellows, try to gain acceptance by switching places and discover along with their peers that color is not everything.

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Despite the differences between people around the world, there are similarities that join us together, such as pain, joy, and love.


Link to empathy books in the Library catalog

Tina and the Penguin cover


Picture Books on the theme of empathy

Good Neighbor Nicholas by Viriginia L. Kroll
When Nicholas's injured ankle keeps him from playing soccer, he finds he can better understand the behavior of the neighbor who makes him angry, and learns that he can change his own behavior too.

A Salmon for Simon by Betty Waterton
Simon, a Native Canadian boy, has been trying all summer to catch a salmon. But when he gets his chance, Simon no longer wants to keep it--it's too strong and beautiful!

Summer Wheels by Eve Bunting
The Bicycle Man lends bicycles to the neighborhood kids with two rules: they must be returned by four o'clock, and if they break, the kids must fix them. Lawrence, the African-American narrator, and his friend Brady spend their summer days riding. When a new kid doesn't return a bike, the two friends find him and make him take it back. In the process, they discover that his toughness is just a mask for his need for adult attention, and that the Man cares more about kids than bicycles. This gentle, warm story, divided into chapters, has an understated message.

Tina and the Penguin by Heather Dyer
Visiting the zoo with her class, Tina can't help noticing that one of the penguins looks really unhappy. She decides to help him escape from the zoo, with the help of a clever disguise, and take him home. But having a penguin for a pet isn't easy and she has to try to provide what she realizes a penguin needs - things like a cold temperature. Her mother is suspicious of Tina's sudden interest in sleeping with the windows wide open. The penguin begins to moult, and Tina's mother doesn't like all the feathers. And bath time is less than fun when you need to fill the tub with ice cubes to chill it to Antarctic lows. It's hard to keep a penguin a secret, and things start to smell a little bit fishy.

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting
A loving story about a proud granddaughter and her successful efforts to teach her grandmother to read. A plug for literacy is just the bonus; the real focus is on the lessons old and young share when they learn to read each other's hearts.


Link to respect books in Library Catalogue


Picture books on the theme of respect

Each Living Thing by Joanne Ryder
Celebrates the creatures of the earth, from spiders dangling in their webs to owls hooting and hunting out of sight, and asks that we respect and care for them.

The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Tale retold by Joseph Bruchac
A quarrel between the first man and the first woman is reconciled when the Sun causes strawberries to grow out of the earth. The man feels regret for his words and the woman forgives him after the strawberries distract her from her anger.

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester
A shy rat who can't pronounce his r's rises to the occasion and outsmarts a new student who terrorizes the classroom. An ego booster for any child who has ever been bullied or teased, with illustrations that exude charm and personality.

Sneaky Weasel by Hannah Shaw
Although he's had a lot of fun doing sneaky and devilish things to all his friends for his own amusement, Weasel learns a hard lesson about friendship and respect when he throws a party for himself and no one shows up.

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
Tacky the penguin does not fit in with his sleek and graceful companions, but his odd behavior comes is very appreciated when hunters come with maps and traps.


Link to responsibility books in Library Catalogue


Picture books on the theme of responsibility

The Grannyman by Judity Byron Schachner
Simon is a very old cat. He has had a wonderful life chasing butterflies, eating houseplants, and even playing the piano. His family adores him and they do everything they can to keep him comfortable. Now that he is old, Simon feels useless. Then one day his family drops something small and soft on his tummy-a tiny kitten! There is so much the kitten needs to learn about the world, and Simon is happy to teach him. Suddenly Simon has a big responsibility and a lot to do!

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Poor Horton. Dr. Seuss's kindly elephant is persuaded to sit on an egg while its mother, the good-for-nothing bird lazy Maysie, takes a break. Little does Horton suspect that Maysie is setting off for a permanent vacation in Palm Springs. He waits, and waits, never leaving his precarious branch, even through a freezing winter and a spring that's punctuated by the insults of his friends. ("They taunted. They teased him. They yelled 'How Absurd! Old Horton the Elephant thinks he's a bird!'") Further indignities await, but Horton has the patience of Job--from whose story this one clearly derives--and he is rewarded in the end by the surprise birth of ... an elephant-bird

Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg
When he has a dream about a future Earth devastated by pollution, Walter begins to understand the importance of taking care of the environment.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Seeking adventure in faraway places, Miss Rumphius fulfills her dream and then sets out to make the world more beautiful

Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie de Paolo|
When Grandfather has a stroke, little Bobby helps him to relearn many of the things that he taught Bobby as a toddler.

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