Pants On Fire: 10 Books About Lying For Kids

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Ashlie Swicker


Ashlie (she/her) is an educator, librarian, and writer. She is committed to diversifying the reading lives of her students and supporting fat acceptance as it intersects with other women’s issues. She's also perpetually striving to learn more about how she can use her many privileges to support marginalized groups. Interests include learning how to roller skate with her local roller derby team, buying more books than she'll ever read, hiking with her husband and sons, and making lists to avoid real work. You can find her on Instagram (@ashlieelizabeth), Twitter (@mygirlsimple) or at her website,

Why do we need books about lying for kids? You might think it’s simple: tell the little ones “don’t lie!” and move along. The thing about lying is that it’s actually a very advanced psychological skill. When kids lie, they’re proving that they understand the reality of a situation, they understand what is likely to happen based on that reality, and they would like a different outcome. They might want to hide something that’s already happened, influence future events, or even protect someone’s feelings. Such a complex situation deserves a nuanced conversation. Besides, aren’t we past the “do as I say” model of raising young people?

Thank everything holy we’ve got books! There are so many amazing titles that help adults navigate social emotional topics with kids, and lying is no exception. Whether little ones are struggling with exaggeration, lying to fit in, covering mistakes, or even managing brutal honesty, there is a book to impart a lesson and spark a discussion. As a society, we are moving away from a “right and wrong” method of teaching morality. Kids are being explicitly taught to unpack their emotions and gently directed to consider other viewpoints. This is, frankly, a huge achievement. Below, I’ve gathered 10 books about lying for kids that can help you start these conversations with the little humans in your life.

cover of Scouts Honor

Scout’s Honor: A Kid’s Book about Lying and Telling the Truth by Tiffany Obeng

Tapping into kids’ love for comics, Scout’s Honor uses vibrant cartoon images to draw readers in. Less a narrative and more a jumping off point, this book discusses reasons and consequences for lying.

cover of Honesty is my Superpower

Honesty is my Superpower: A Kid’s Book about Telling the Truth and Overcoming Lying by Alicia Ortego

Part of Ortego’s My Superpower series, this book uses a narrative story to bring up important concepts of honesty. Tommy and his beloved older brother, Nao, celebrate truthful words and actions.

cover of Norman Didn't Do It

Norman Didn’t Do It!: (Yes, He Did) by Ryan T. Higgins

Higgins is a read-aloud favorite for his silly characters and wonderful illustrations. This book uses a charming story to subtly bring in messages about jealousy and lying. Plus, it features a tree named Mildred.

cover of The Fibbing Giraffe

The Fibbing Giraffe by David White, Kevin Phun, and Ronaldo Florendo

Our title character goes on a journey when his fibs begin to snowball and he faces uncomfortable consequences for his dishonesty. Readers will connect with the positive feeling of relief when he finally tells the truth!

cover of I Can Do Hard Things

I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids by Gabi Garcia and Charity Russell

We do our young people a disservice if we make them think that doing the morally correct thing is always easy. It’s not the truth. In this gorgeously illustrated book of affirmations, Garcia allows readers to grapple with various difficult situations and reminds them that they can achieve what they need to, even when it’s hard.

cover of The Honest to Goodness Truth

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack and Giselle Potter

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth is a delightful and necessary counterpoint to the “complete honesty always” narrative. Libby is confused when she follows her Mama’s directions about telling the whole truth. Suddenly, everyone is mad! This book is perfect for the discussion of truth vs. tact, laid out in a lovely story.

cover of Princess Kim and the Lie That Grew

Princess K.I.M. and the Lie That Grew by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

The incredibly relatable Kim wants to fit in with her classmates at her new school. To make them like her, she tells a teeny lie — she’s royalty! She is the hit of the school, but can she keep the lie from exploding in her face?

cover of Little Croc's Purse

Little Croc’s Purse by Lizzie Finlay

Another facet of the honesty conversation is the “finders keepers” clause. What do we do when we see something we really want, but it’s not ours? Little Croc struggles to make the choice between keeping the lost purse he finds, or seeking out the owner.

cover of Tiddler

Tiddler by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Tiddler is a little fish who is always late for school. He’s also always quick to make up a story to excuse his lateness. But what happens when a net sweeps him up and pulls him far from school and home? How will he handle a true emergency?

cover of The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! By Scott Magoon

The familiar Boy Who Cried Wolf fable is turned on its head in this story about a boy who cries cryptid! Heavy on the themes of establishing and maintaining trust and delivered with appealing rhyming text, this is sure to be a read aloud hit.

Hopefully you found some books about lying for kids that can help you start important discussions! Looking for more books to spark social emotional growth? Check out these books about bullying or this round up of children’s books about emotions.