Mentor Texts for Teaching Fairness

The idea of “fair” is very tricky for kids. They often have the idea that everything should be fair all the time. It’s even harder to convince them is that “fair” doesn’t always mean everyone should get the same thing.

If you are ready to tackle some of these big topics with your students, consider using mentor texts to start the conversation. Below you will find a list of ten of my favorite mentor texts for teaching fairness.

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1. That’s Not Fair!: A Book About How Fair Is Not Always Equal 

Henry begins to notice that various kids at their school are to be allowed to do different activities and even follow a different set of rules. Henry’s first thought is “That’s not fair!” Luckily, Henry’s mom is able to help him understand why fair and equal don’t always mean the same thing.

2. No Fair!: Kids Talk About Fairness 

This book is written in an advice column style and explores various questions from children about different instances that seem unfair. The use of real-life situations is a powerful way to illustrate how kids tend to view the idea of “fairness” compared to what it really means.

3. The Little Red Hen

Little Red Hen works hard to grow and harvest her wheat, but her animal friends refuse to help. After all of the work is done, and Little Red Hen uses the flour to bake some delicious bread, of course, the animals all want some. Since no one cared to help with all of the work, Little Red Hen had no problem saying no way! Instead, she and her chicks enjoy the bread on their own.

4. New Shoes

Ella Mae needs a new pair of shoes. When the shoe salesman won’t allow her to try shoes, she is embarrassed and confused by this unfair treatment. Soon after, Ella Mae and her cousin come up with a plan that will allow all the kids in their neighborhood to get the shoes they need without the unfair treatment.

5. Fair is Fair by Sonny Varela

This story is about three zoo animals zoo who are bothered when they discover that all the animals aren’t treated the same. They worry that this means some animals are loved less than others. In the end, they learn that real love is shown when everyone gets just what they need.

6. Baseball Saved Us

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, thousands of Japanese American families were sent to internment camps. Shorty is a young boy living in such a camp. He and his father build a baseball diamond. They soon realize that a renewed sense of dignity and self-respect grows among the players. 

7. Big Red Lollipop

Siblings are, for many children, the root of the “it’s not fair” moment. In this story, Rubina is invited to a birthday party, and her mother insists that she bring her little sister, Sana, along. This is just the first of the “unfair” events in this story, but Rubina must find a way to cope.

8. Separate is Never Equal

A young girl named Sylvia Mendez moves to a new California town with her family. They attempt to enroll in the neighborhood school but are told they must instead attend the Mexican school. Confused by this (Sylvia is American, and speaks perfect English, after all!), Sylvia and her family join the battle for equality that eventually helps end the unfair practice of school segregation in California. 

9. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life of Fairness

In this biographical book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, students will learn about the many ways that people of color were treated unfairly in his time.  The book also highlights the actions that Dr. King took to challenge this, and why he believed so strongly in the need for change.

10. Amazing Grace

Grace loves stories and acting. When her teacher announces that their class will be putting on a play of Peter Pan, Grace is eager to audition for the lead role. Other students quickly point out that she’s not a boy, and she’s black…so she can’t be Peter! Nana reminds Grace that she can do anything she puts her mind to, so Grace decides to go for it despite the naysayers.

Have you heard about my Character Education: Fairness resource? It’s got everything you need to directly teach this virtue, and it includes both print and digital versions!

Character Education Fairness - SEL Fairness Activities in Print and Digital

If you liked the Fairness Unit, you’re going to LOVE the Character Education bundle. It includes Character Education units that will last for the entire year.

Character Education Bundle in Print and Digital

Interested in even more mentor texts? Check out the posts below!

5 Reasons to Use Mentor Texts With Big Kids

Mentor Texts for Teaching Gratitude

Mentor Texts for Teaching Kindness


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