A highly effective way to teach character traits to elementary students is to read aloud a picture book that lends itself to teaching this reading strategy. Reading aloud a picture book facilitates a learning experience where you can model how to use character traits to better understand the text and engage students in their learning by asking related questions. Below is a list of 10 picture books for teaching character traits. Check out the full list, as well as the teaching resources that go with them!
10 Character Traits Picture Books
Below are 10 picture books for teaching character traits.
1. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio, tells the story of Mrs. Poodle and her four puppies. Mrs. Poodle teaches her puppies to be proper and graceful. Gaston however, is not like the other puppies. He grows the biggest and has to try harder at everything compared to his siblings. Through a journey of switching houses, Gaston learns the importance of being true to himself. This story provides clarity around character traits, as we learn more about Gaston and compare him to his siblings. Check out these Gaston activities!
2. Not Norman by Kelly Bennett
The main character in this book is a young boy who wanted a pet for his birthday. He is disappointed to find that his parents got him a goldfish instead of a cat or dog like he wanted. The boy names his goldfish Norman, but plans on taking him back to the pet store to trade for another pet. When it is time to pick a new pet at the store, the boy realizes that none of the pets there are like Norman. He decides to keep his goldfish after all. This story illustrates Norman as a friend to the boy, as he listens, laughs, and enjoys their time together. The characteristics of Norman is what makes this story so special! Check out these Not Norman activities!
3. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Amazing Grace is a story about an imaginative little girl who wants to play the role of Peter Pan in her class play. When the other students in the class say that she can’t because she is a girl and she is black, Grace is determined to show that she can be the best Peter Pan. Amazing Grace teaches us about what can happen when you really want something and you put your mind to it. Her resilience and bravery are what make this text such a great resource for teaching about character traits. Check out these Amazing Grace activities!
4. Alexander and The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Voirst
From the moment Alexander wakes up, everything goes wrong! He wakes up with gum in his hair, fights with his friends, and has to eat lima beans for dinner. At the end of his rough day, Alexander learns some days are just like that. This story paints a picture of a frustrated child who learns an important lesson. Analyzing these character traits, many students can make connections between Alexander and themselves! Check out these Alexander and The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Dy activities!
5. Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
Chester and Wilson have their own way of doing things, and they did everything together. They did everything the same way each time. This all changed when Lilly, who has her own way of doing things, moved into the neighborhood. One day, Lilly stuck up for Chester and Wilson when they were being teased. The three mice realize they have lots in common and become great friends. Students can easily compare Lilly with that of Chester and Wilson, but there are also many traits that make them such a great match! Check out these Chester’s Way activities!
6. Chocolate Milk, Por Favor by Maria Dismondy
There is a new student in Johnny’s class, his name is Gabe. The teacher explains that Gabe will not understand them for awhile. He speaks Spanish and is just learning English, so they must find ways to help him. The relationship between Johnny and Gabe is beautiful, including identifying similar and different character traits. This story will help students make connections to characters in the story, as well as analyze their own feelings. Check out these Chocolate Milk, Por Favor activities!
7. Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang
Jim Panzee wakes up one morning feeling grumpy. He is very confused and doesn’t know why he feels this way. The other animals in the jungle try to cheer him up, but Jim keeps insisting that he is not grumpy. Eventually, the other animals push Jim too far trying to make him happy, and he explodes and runs off. It isn’t until he finally admits that he is feeling grumpy, that he begins to feel better.
Children will love hearing this funny book about identifying emotions, character traits, and realizing that it is okay to be grumpy. Check out these Grumpy Monkey activities!
8. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
When Iggy Peck goes to school, he becomes disappointed because his teacher says that talking about architecture and building structures is not allowed at school. However, he doesn’t let this squash his passion. When the class goes on a field trip, Iggy Peck and his class have to work together to build a bridge when they find themselves stuck on an island. Children will relate to the character traits of Iggy, the resilience he shows, and the passion he has for creating! Check out these Iggy Peck, Architect activities!
9. Change Sings by Amanda Gorman
Presidential inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, shares that to make change, we all need to work together. Despite background, disabilities, culture, and income, when we come together, we are stronger. This heartwarming and impactful story will be sure to get students thinking about the power within ourselves and the character traits needed to make a positive change! Check out these Change Sings activities!
10. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Princess Elizabeth lives in a castle, wears expensive princess clothes, and is going to marry Prince Ronald. That is, until a dragon comes and smashes the castle, burns her clothes, and carries Prince Ronald to a cave. In this empowering fairytale, Princess Elizabeth is able to identify her self-worth and connect with character traits that actually have her leave Prince Ronald behind. Check out these The Paper Bag Princess activities!
In closing, we hope you found this list of character traits picture books helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts: