Intelligence plus character: that’s the goal of a true education.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Character building and teaching character traits are so important to teach our children as they grow older. Character traits that will become the foundation upon which their education, careers, and family lives will be built. All the knowledge and education in the world won’t get them where they need to go if they don’t know how to encounter different situations throughout life. How to act under pressure? How to treat others? How to behave when others are in trouble? How to be responsible for themselves? How to forgive?, etc.

There are many different character building curriculums out there, but when looking I began to think about the best way my children learn. They LOVE picture books and we learn so much from the many different ones we read.

This year I decided to start a character trait book basket, filled with picture books based on one character trait at a time. Everyday we read 1 or 2 books from the basket. Before we begin reading we go over the character trait we are working on. After we read each book we talk about the story, how the character trait was portrayed, etc.

Talking together, asking them questions, or having them narrate the story back to you is all it takes for them to grasp a new concept.

We have a lot of books in our basket for each character trait so it will take us at least 2 weeks or so to get through them all. Once we have read every book, I lay them all out for my kids and have them each pick their favorite 2-3 books and verbally tell me about the story/how it relates to our character trait.

For my oldest who is in 1st grade, I will then have her choose her absolute favorite from those to draw a picture and write a sentence or two about.

Every few weeks I will share our new character trait and character basket list of books we read if you wish to join us and do this same way of learning/teaching character traits.

Here are the character traits we will be learning about, reading, and discussing together:

  • Confidence
  • Respect
  • Courage
  • Patience
  • Loyalty
  • Honesty
  • Cooperation
  • Forgiveness
  • Perseverance
  • Responsibility
  • Compassion
  • Courtesy/Manners

We check out a majority of these books from our local library. However I know, due to Covid, some of your libraries are still not open, even for curb side pick up. So out of our list of books I will also share our top 3 favorites, with links, if you wish to purchase any of those.

Since we always begin our school year with “about me” activities, our first character trait I chose was CONFIDENCE. We talked about how everyone is not the same, it’s ok to be different, and to be proud and have confidence in who you are and where you come from.

Here is a list of the picture books we read this month about differences and having CONFIDENCE:

  • Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Brontorina by James Howe
  • Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki
  • Red: A Crayon Story by Michael Hall
  • Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
  • The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett
  • Elmer by David Mckee
  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
  • Josephine Wants to Dance by Jackie French
  • Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el

Our top 3 favorite books to discuss this topic were: Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, and Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el.

My daughter’s favorite book was Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell. In her journal she drew a picture and wrote a sentence describing the book, as well as writing the character trait.

Look forward for more upcoming posts sharing all the books we read about character traits and our favorites!

Here are the posts to each character trait book basket so far:



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