There perhaps isn't a more important theme in literature for kids than the idea of responsibility. From remembering where they put their sports gear to helping pick up their toys around the house, there are a number of things your kids can take responsibility for early in life.
While the word itself can be tough to define for little ones, the idea of being accountable for something or having a duty is a surprisingly easy concept for them to understand, and it helps them gain autonomy.
Teaching responsibility at a young age is important, and many of these lessons can be found in books written for young readers. Seeing the main characters navigate their way through familiar situations is relatable, and these lessons about responsibility can be applied both in the classroom and at home (and will serve them well through life).
We gathered seven stories to read to your child that teach responsibly, from caring for pets to seeing the effects of one's actions on others. They're fun, insightful and beautifully illustrated—your little ones won't soon forget them!
Franklin Wants a Pet by Paulette Bourgeois
Your child is no-doubt familiar with Franklin the turtle. But in this edition, he's looking for a pet and has to convince his parents he's ready to take care of it. This is likely one of the most common situations parents face, and it's a great opportunity to teach the idea of how your actions and habits can positively (or negatively) impact another life—human or otherwise.
David Gets in Trouble by David Shanon
Does your little one own up to their mistakes when they get in trouble? If the answer is no (or sometimes), this book would make a great addition on your bookshelf. It's the story of David, who has excuses for all his shenanigans. But in the end he feels guilty and apologizes for his actions. Even with the minimal text, it's a great lesson and reminder for us all.
The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
This book is a classic that's all about responsibility and teamwork. The hen is busy growing wheat and taking care of her friends, but they don't want to contribute even after being asked. We won't spoil the ending, but let's just say if you want to eat cake, you better lend a helping hand.
I Just Forgot by Mercer Mayer
Saying "I forgot" is a common excuse for kids when a responsibility slips through the cracks, and this appropriately-titled book addresses this phrase. It's a story of being present and responsible for your actions, no matter if it's remembering your rain boots or to use soap in the bath. The entire Little Critter series is relatable and funny, and the illustrations are clever.
Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells
The idea of responsibility is also about thinking of others, and in this story, Max learns a lesson about not just this, but the idea of being financially responsible. They're out shopping for their grandma's birthday but end up spending their money on themselves during their adventure. Ruby steps in, and they buy their grandma something before all their money is gone.
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
What do you get when you have a pigeon who wants a puppy? Well, you get a great story about how owning a pet is a big responsibility. He has a few things he'd like to do with the puppy once he gets it, including playing tennis with it, but he ultimately decides owning one isn't for him (but not before a bit of a tantrum). This might not deter your kids from wanting a pet, but it's a great conversation starter about all that's required in caring for a live animal.
No More Hitting for Little Hamster by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
We can all relate to losing our temper from time to time, but for Little Hamster, he starts to hit his friends when he's mad. He finds himself left out of fun games because of this, so he has to learn how to play nicely while treating his friends with kindness and respect. It's a story about being responsible for your actions and is especially impactful for pre-K kids working on not letting anger get the best of them.
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