10 Decision Making Stories for Students at the Elementary Level – 2024

One of my favorite teaching strategies is using picture books to teach SEL skills. Picture books are powerful tools that make social emotional learning topics fun and meaningful. They are also very accessible. Even if you don’t have a robust collection of high quality children’s literature in your classroom library, you likely have access to books through your school library, public library, or on the internet. The best part is that students love listening to and discussing stories about relatable characters and storylines. They learn so much from them! In this post, I share my favorite stories for teaching responsible decision making.

All of these decision making stories for students are part of my Starts With a Story collection. Picture Day Perfection, Millie Fierce, Miss Nelson is Missing and What If Everyone Did That? are part of our choices SEL Unit, which includes interactive read aloud lesson plans among tons of other resources for teaching choices. Check out the list of decision making stories for students below!

making good choices read alouds

10 Decision Making Stories for Students

Below are 10 quality decision making children’s books for elementary teachers. Your kids will love these read alouds! They are great for teaching responsible decision making, as well as many other concepts and skills.

1. Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen

The first on this list of decision making stories for students is Picture Day Perfection. In this story, a young boy is trying to get the perfect school picture. Unfortunately, he runs into several mishaps on picture day. These include getting covered in syrup, making a mess with paint, and having the wrong backdrop. In the end, although the boy did not get his perfect picture, he was smiling! Students will laugh at the boy’s mishaps and the funny pictures throughout. This story also lends itself to teaching about choices and how they can affect us in different ways. My Choices SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!

Picture Day Perfection book cover and worksheetMillie Fierce book cover

2. Millie Fierce by Jane Manning

Millie is tired of being invisible. When three girls from school walk over her flower chalk drawing and ruin it, Millie decides she is going to become fierce. But when Millie upsets her classmate, she realizes being fierce might not be the best way to get attention. Millie apologizes and realizes that making good choices is a better way to get people to notice you. This story lends itself to teaching about choices for attention in a healthy and safe way. My Choices SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!

3. Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.

This story is about an unruly classroom of students and a teacher who finds a creative way to teach them a lesson. Then one day, Miss Nelson goes missing and Miss Viola Swamp comes into the classroom. She wears an ugly black dress, never smiles, and loads the students up with homework. It isn’t long before the students miss Miss Nelson and start to look for her. When she returns a few days later the students are thrilled to see her. They no longer misbehave and act like angels in the classroom.  In the end, we find out that Miss Nelson was in the classroom all long and she had dressed up as Miss Viola Swamp to teach her students a lesson about being respectful and making better choices. My Choices SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!

Miss Nelson is Missing book cover and writing papervocabulary activities for What if Everybody Did That?

4. What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick

A boy is struggling to use his manners and make good choices. He does things like push his grocery cart as fast as it will go, throw his garbage out the window of the car, interrupt his teacher, and splash in the pool. Whenever he makes a poor decision, the adults around him ask “What if everybody did that?”. The boy then has to reflect on what would happen if everyone was making the same decision that he was choosing to make. The boy uses his reflections to make better choices.  My Choices SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!

5. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Voirst

The fifth on this list of decision making stories for students is Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. 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. Throughout the story, Alexander was put in many difficult situations. The choices that Alexander made while in these situations were not always good choices. This allows the story to be used as a resource to teach students about choices, and the effects of those choices. Check out these Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day activities!

Alexander and the Terrible No Good Very Bad Day activityNaughty Mabel book cover

6. Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane & Devlin Elliott

Mabel is a spoiled dog who lives with her parents in the Hamptons. Mabel is known for making a mess of the house, swallowing jewelry, and knocking over the Christmas tree. When Mabel’s parents make her take a bath, she knows it must mean they’re throwing a party! Students will learn about the results of the choices she makes, and students can determine if they resulted in expected or unexpected decisions! Check out these Naughty Mabel activities!

7. Pig the Slob by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug is becoming quite the slob! He is an immovable lump on the couch, and even the smallest tasks are too hard. When Trevor tries to bring Pig outside, he ignores him. That is… he ignores him until the floorboards start to groan! Pig learns to make better choices to keep him healthy and moving. Readers can also discuss the impact of choices within their own health and lives. Check out these Pig the Slob activities!

Pig the Slob book coverWorksheets based on the book, One Plastic Bag

8. One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

For awhile in Gambia, people were littering. One day, Isatou learned that the goats were eating the plastic bags and dying. She realized she needed to do something. Isatou picked up the bags and she and a group of other women washed them. The trash pile started to get smaller and eventually Gambia was beautiful and trash free once more. This beautiful story reminds readers of the power in making good choices that help the community and the Earth. Check out these One Plastic Bag activities!

9. Alice and Greta by Steven J. Simmons

There are two witches who have known each other since they were in school. Alice has always chosen to use her magic to help people and spread joy, while Greta has always used her magic to create problems for others. Alice and Greta continue to make choices that categorize themselves as “good” and “bad”. Students will have fun sorting these choices and learning what Alice’s most important lesson is! Check out these Alice and Greta activities!

Alice and Greta book coverThe Bad Seed activity

10. The Bad Seed by Jory John

The last on this list of decision making stories for students is The Bad Seed. The main character is a sunflower seed who considers himself to be bad. He does not use his manners and he describes all the ways that he is bad. The people in his community call him the Bad Seed and do not want to be around him. Eventually, he changes his mindset and with some self-talk, he becomes a good seed. This character tries his best to make mindful choices, which all students can connect to! Check out these The Bad Seed activities!

Integrated SEL and Literacy Activities

Below are some integrated SEL and literacy resources for elementary teachers.

SEL Unit

Our Choices Unit, which is available individually or as part of a year-long SEL bundle, includes lessons for the first four books on this list. This unit is packed with lesson plans, teaching resources, games, and activities. Click an image below to either get this individual choices unit or get ALL 30 SEL units!

Choices SEL UnitSocial Emotional Learning Units Bundle
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SEL Book Companions

As I mentioned earlier, I love teaching SEL skills using picture books. That’s why I created the Starts With a Story Collection. High quality children’s literature supports elementary teachers in delivering meaningful and accessible SEL lessons. All of the read alouds on this list are part of this book companion collection. Check out the book companions below!

Picture Day Perfection book companionMillie FierceMiss Nelson is Missing book companionWhat if Everybody Did That? book companionAlexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Naughty MabelPig the SlobOne Plastic BagAlice and Greta book companionThe Bad Seed

In closing, we hope you found this list of decision making stories for students at the elementary level helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

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