Responsibility is like a muscle- the more you use it, the stronger it gets! This means that the earlier kids can start taking responsibility for their behavior and actions, the better!
One awesome way to get kids thinking about what responsibility looks like in their own lives is to provide examples using mentor texts. Check out the list below for my ten favorite books to talk about responsibility in the classroom!
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1. A Castle on Viola Street
Andy and his family live together in a small apartment but hope to one day be able to own their own house. Andy and his sister see a flyer for Habitat for Humanity (a real-life organization that helps families all across America), which leads to the whole family getting involved and helping to build and fix up houses for needy families. In the end, Andy and his family find out that they will be receiving a house of their own as well.
2. The Red Bicycle
This story is all about a red bicycle that is useful to many people. When its first owner grows too big for it, the bicycle is shipped to West Africa. A girl named Alisetta uses it for traveling around her family’s sorghum field. When Alisetta doesn’t need it anymore, the bike is given to Haridata, who uses it to deliver medicine to sick people. It’s an interesting story of how one person’s responsible choice can have a big impact.
3. The Paperboy
It’s never easy to get out of bed early on a dark, cold morning, especially when everyone else is still sleeping, but that is exactly what this boy has to do each morning. As a newspaper delivery boy, he has a responsibility to prepare and deliver newspapers to all the people along his route. Luckily, his loyal dog sticks close to his side and makes the whole process more enjoyable.
4. My Choices Make Me Who I Am
This book is told from the perspective of a young boy who is learning all about how to make positive choices as he navigates through life. By exploring themes of respect, reputation, determination, and more, this book is sure to inspire your students to start thinking about responsibility, accountability, and the importance of making good choices.
5. Chicken Sunday
Miss Eula is beloved by her two grandsons and her “adopted” granddaughter, a young Russian-American girl. Every Sunday, she makes delicious fried chicken for them. To thank her, the children want to buy a special hat that Miss Eula has been admiring. When trying to earn the money for the hat, the children find themselves in a misunderstanding with Mr. Kodinski, the shop owner. With Miss Eula’s help, the children figure out a way to prove to Mr. Kodinski that they had good intentions all along.
6. Little Red Riding Hood
Join Little Red, who will be a familiar character to many students, as she journeys through the woods to her sick grandmother’s house to deliver a basket of goodies. Little Red is given strict instructions by her mother, not to run, daydream, or dilly dally. Of course, she doesn’t follow her mother’s wishes, and as a result, both she and her grandmother end up in the wolf’s belly! (This version has a happy ending- a hunter comes and rescues Little Red and Grandmother.)
7. Granddaddy’s Gift
This is the story of Little Joe, who accompanies her granddaddy as he becomes the first black registered voter in town. To do this, Granddaddy has to face racism and take a test on the Mississippi Constitution. Grandaddy refuses to back down and persists through all of these obstacles. Through observing this experience, Little Joe learns how important it is to set goals and continuously work toward them.
8. The Little Red Hen
A retelling of the classic story, the Little Red Hen is working hard to grow and harvest her wheat, and her animal friends refuse to help. After all the work is done and Little Red Hen uses the flour to bake some delicious bread, the animals all want some. Because they took no responsibility in helping, Little Red Hen says no! Instead, she and her chicks enjoy the bread on their own.
9. Very Last First Time
Eva, a young Inuit girl who lives in Northern Canada, has always gone with her mother to collect mussels by the seashore. On this day, Eva is finally allowed to do this task on her own! She is very excited as she sings and explores around the rocks. Before long, Eva realizes she has gone too far and has to make some quick decisions to correct her mistake. Luckily, there is a happy ending.
10. Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday
Budgeting and saving money is not a strength for most elementary kids, and Alexander is no different. His Grandparents give him one dollar which he plans to save to buy a walkie-talkie. Not surprisingly, Alexander is so tempted to buy everything from gum to a garage sale teddy bear, that he is out of money by the end of the book. This is a great way to start a conversation about being responsible with your money.
Looking for more lesson ideas related to responsibility? My Character Education Responsibility Print and Digital resource is full of great ideas for increasing your student’s responsibility. It includes a self-reflection quiz, activity pages, discussion cards, and more- all in both print and digital formats. Check it out!
Interested in taking care of all of your character education lessons for the year? Take a look at this bundle!
Do you want even more great ideas about teaching character education? If your answer is yes, check out the posts below!
5 Steps to Incorporating Character Education in the Classroom
Mentor Texts for Teaching Gratitude
Mentor Texts for Teaching Respect
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