5 Great Books to Teach Character Traits [For Kids]


Teaching children character traits is a crucial aspect of their development as it shapes their values, behavior, and interactions with others. Character traits such as empathy, resilience, integrity, and kindness lay the foundation for strong social and emotional skills. While character development can be challenging, books serve as powerful tools to instill important life lessons. Through the exploration of diverse characters and their experiences, children can develop a deeper understanding of various character traits and their significance in navigating the complexities of life.

Character Traits

The Importance of Children Learning Character Traits:

Instilling character traits in children from an early age is vital for their overall growth and well-being. Character traits serve as a compass, guiding children in making ethical decisions, building healthy relationships, and contributing positively to society. Developing empathy helps children understand and connect with others, fostering inclusivity and respect. Resilience equips children with the ability to bounce back from setbacks, embrace challenges, and persevere in the face of adversity. Teaching integrity and honesty encourages children to be accountable for their actions and establish a strong moral compass. Kindness and compassion create a culture of empathy, understanding, and positive social interactions. By instilling these character traits, children are better equipped to navigate life’s challenges, build meaningful relationships, and become responsible and empathetic members of society.

The Role of Reading in Learning Character Traits:

Reading plays a crucial role in teaching character traits to children. Through books, children are exposed to diverse characters, their struggles, triumphs, and personal growth. Stories provide a platform for children to explore the inner worlds of characters, understand their motivations, and witness their actions. By observing and empathizing with characters, children develop a deeper understanding of different perspectives, emotions, and experiences. Reading allows children to walk in the shoes of fictional characters, promoting empathy and fostering a broader worldview.

Books offer rich narratives that allow children to see characters grappling with challenges, making choices, and experiencing consequences. By analyzing characters’ traits and actions, children learn about the values and qualities that contribute to positive outcomes. Whether it’s witnessing a character’s perseverance in the face of adversity or observing acts of kindness and empathy, children can internalize these traits and apply them in their own lives.

Moreover, books provide a safe space for children to explore complex emotions and ethical dilemmas. By engaging with morally ambiguous characters and their journeys, children develop critical thinking skills and learn to make thoughtful judgments. Books also offer opportunities for discussions with parents, teachers, and peers, further reinforcing the understanding of character traits and their importance in personal growth.

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  1. After the Fall by Dan Santat: “After the Fall” follows the journey of Humpty Dumpty as he overcomes his fear of heights. Through Humpty Dumpty’s experiences, children can learn about perseverance, courage, and the importance of facing fears. For instance, when Humpty Dumpty says, “I was terrified of heights… but then I had a big fall,” it showcases his initial fear and vulnerability. This quote allows children to empathize with his emotions. As the story progresses, Humpty Dumpty takes small steps to conquer his fear, such as building a paper airplane and climbing a ladder. Through his determination and courage, Humpty Dumpty ultimately achieves personal growth and triumphs over his fear of heights. This book teaches children the value of resilience, determination, and facing challenges head-on.
  2. We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio: “We’re All Wonders” encourages empathy and acceptance. Through Auggie’s story, children can develop empathy and understand the importance of looking beyond appearances. For example, when Auggie says, “I know I can’t change the way I look, but maybe people can change the way they see,” it reflects his desire for others to see him for who he truly is. This quote highlights Auggie’s strength of character and his hope for a more accepting world. By witnessing Auggie’s experiences and challenges, children learn about empathy, embracing differences, and treating others with kindness and respect.
  3. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman: “Amazing Grace” promotes self-esteem, determination, and breaking gender stereotypes. Through Grace’s story, children can learn the importance of believing in oneself and pursuing their dreams. When Grace declares, “I can be anything I want to be. I can be a Peter Pan if I want,” it showcases her unwavering self-belief. This quote inspires children to embrace their individuality and challenge societal expectations. By witnessing Grace’s journey and her determination to audition for a traditionally male role, children learn about self-confidence, resilience, and the power of following their passions.
  4. The Bad Seed by Jory John: “The Bad Seed” portrays the character’s journey of self-improvement and personal growth. Through the bad seed’s experiences, children can learn about self-awareness, empathy, and the importance of positive change. When the bad seed reflects, “I’ve made some bad choices. But that doesn’t make me a bad seed,” it showcases its self-awareness and desire for transformation. This quote highlights the seed’s acknowledgment of its past behavior and its commitment to change. By witnessing the bad seed’s growth and learning from its mistakes, children understand the significance of self-reflection, personal responsibility, and the capacity for positive change.
  5. Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine: “Henry’s Freedom Box” depicts Henry’s resilience, determination, and pursuit of freedom. Through Henry’s story, children can learn about the importance of courage, perseverance, and the pursuit of justice. For example, when Henry defiantly declares, “I ain’t no slave. I’m a free man,” it showcases his unwavering spirit and refusal to accept the injustice of slavery. This quote inspires children to stand up for what is right and challenges them to consider the importance of freedom and equality. By empathizing with Henry’s struggle and his relentless pursuit of freedom, children develop an understanding of resilience, determination, and the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity.


Teaching character traits to children is essential for their holistic development. Books serve as invaluable tools in this process, allowing children to immerse themselves in diverse narratives, empathize with characters, and learn important life lessons. By exploring the traits of fictional characters, children gain insight into the qualities that contribute to positive relationships, resilience, empathy, and ethical decision-making. As children engage with stories and reflect on character traits, they develop a strong moral foundation that guides their actions and interactions, preparing them to become compassionate, responsible, and ethical individuals. Through reading, children embark on a journey of self-discovery, empathy, and personal growth, ultimately shaping them into empathetic and values-driven individuals.