Mentor Texts for Teaching Respect

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T…” We all know the song, and we all know how important it is for students to learn to be respectful towards the adults and other children around them.


If this is something that you are focusing on in your classroom, check out the list below of my favorite mentor texts to use when teaching about respect.

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1. The Recess Queen

Mean Jean rules the playground, and all the kids do what she says! When a new girl named Katie Sue arrives, she isn’t afraid of Mean Jean at all! She plays what she wants to play and is even brave enough to ask Mean Jean to play. All the kids are amazed at what happens next! 

2. The Bicycle Man

Set in a small village in Japan shortly after World War II, this is the true story of two American soldiers who show up for a Sports Day at a local school. Two very different cultures come together to appreciate some amazing bicycle tricks!

3. The Other Side

Clover is a young African-American girl whose town is segregated by a fence. Her mother warns her never to climb that fence. When a lonely (white) girl shows up on the other side of the fence,  she and Clover start to become friends, despite the fence that separates them.

4. Lying Up a Storm

Levi doesn’t always like the truth, so he sometimes makes things up. When his mother finds out, she explains to him how lying will ruin the trust people have in you, and the negative consequences of that.

5. Your Name is A Song

In this story, a little girl is disappointed when no one at school can pronounce her name correctly. This is a powerful story about the importance of names and how the simple act of learning to say someone’s name correctly is an important sign of respect.

6. The Junkyard Wonders

Little Trisha is disappointed to be put in Miss Peterson’s Special Education class this year. The other kids call it “the junk-yard.” She soon learns that Miss Peterson is a special teacher, who treats all the children very respectfully and helps them find their unique talents.

7. Freedom Summer

Two boys, one black and one white, are best friends, despite the fact that many in their town don’t approve of their friendship. During the summer of 1964, right after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, they hope to be able to enjoy more summer activities together. The boys’ friendship and the respect they show each other shines through, even when things don’t work out as they had hoped.

8. Chester Nez and The Unbreakable Code

Chester Nez, a young Navajo boy, is forced to leave his reservation and told to forget his native culture and language. Luckily, Chester has too much respect for his roots and refuses to do this. As an adult, Chester is recruited by the US Marines and is asked to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code.

9. Shooting at the Stars

This is an unbelievable story but is based on true events! In the middle of World War I, German and American soldiers call a brief truce and celebrate Christmas together on the battlefield. The truce only lasted as long as the celebration, but the story is still just as powerful today.

10. Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story

Nobuo Fujita was a Japanese pilot in WWII. He flew the plane that dropped two bombs near the small town of Brookings, Oregon. Many years later, Nobuo decides to apologize for his actions by donating money to the town library to buy books celebrating other cultures, planting a tree at the bomb site, and even hosting high school students from Brookings. This story is a wonderful illustration of why respect for different cultures is so important! 

Looking for some engaging activities to do with your students that will encourage respect? Check out this print and digital Character Education Respect Resource.

Character Education: Respect

If you need activities for all the character traits, not just respect, you are in luck! Look at this complete Character Education Unit, which covers Character Education for the entire year!

Character Education Bundle in Print and Digital

Want even more great ideas for teaching Character Education? Check out the posts below!

5 Steps to Incorporating Character Education in the Classroom

Mentor Texts for Teaching Gratitude

Mentor Texts for Teaching Courage


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