8 Heartwarming Children’s Books About Respect
Remember being a child, and how confusing the world was? I was taught to chew with my mouth closed, not run in corridors, and keep myself and the space around me tidy. It took me time and keen observation to learn how to set personal boundaries and respect the ones that others do. Despite being surrounded by peers and adults, I was often confused about what falls under respectful behaviour and how to embody it.
Looking back, books like this would’ve made all the difference, as they’d let me look at a familiar setting through the eyes of an observer. I was pleasantly surprised by just how many adorable and colourful picture books meet this need. So here’s a list of diverse, thoughtful, and fun-filled children’s books about respect.
This list contains books that teach us different aspects of respect. They teach without being preachy and are fun without taking away from the lesson. They help us learn how to respect ourselves and stand up to bullies. These children’s books also teach us how to respect the places around us, people’s personal boundaries, and different cultures. I hope every child that reads these feels as much delight and comfort as I did.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
This is a wonderful little picture book that teaches children about the importance of standing up for ourselves and each other. Blue is a quiet, shy colour that gets picked on often by Red. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple watch the events unfold, even though it makes them uncomfortable. No one wants to stand up to the bully — that is, until One shows up. One teaches the colours the importance of sticking by each other, and how everyone counts! This book is adorable and heartwarming, while also teaching kids colours and counting.
A Little Respectful SPOT: A Story about Respecting People, Places, and Things by Diane Alber
A Little Respectful Spot teaches kids all about respect. It teaches them how to respect things from handling scissors to taking care of books so they last a long time. It teaches them the rules of respect in places, like avoiding littering and using the sidewalk. Spot shows kids that we can respect people by paying attention to them, respecting their personal space, and more. We learn about the different aspects of respect all while taking a fun-filled journey with a little respectful spot!
Respect: The Best Me That I Can Be by Rose Angebrandt & Henrique Rampazzo
Keigan learns about respect as he goes through life. He knows it is important. But what happens when you make a mistake? The way you make a wrong right can be respectful too. When Keigan makes a mistake, he goes to his mom to talk about it. Instead of punishing him, she tries to suggest ways for him to fix this. This teaches kids how to continue to be respectful again even if they stumble along the way.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell & David Catrow
This children’s book contains an important lesson: respect begins with yourself. Molly Lou Melon stands out among her peers due to her small frame, clumsiness, buck teeth, and a voice that sounds like “a bull-frog being squeezed by a boa constrictor”. But she doesn’t mind, as her grandma teaches her to always stand tall, walk proud, smile big, and sing loud! She follows her grandma’s advice even as she gets picked on by other kids. Her respect for herself and insistence to continue being who she is helps her earn everyone else’s respect too.
The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Kelly DiPucchio, & Tricia Tusa
This list of children’s books about respect would be incomplete without one that teaches them how to respect different cultures. Lily and Salma are best friends who do everything together. But they find each other’s lunch very strange. Everyday for lunch, Lily gets a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Salma gets a hummus and pita sandwich. One day, they call each other’s food gross and break out into a fight. This continues till they decide to taste each other’s sandwiches and find out that they’re both delicious!
Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
This children’s book teaches kids how to respect personal and physical boundaries, as well as how to set them. Aria has beautiful, soft and bouncy curls that everyone is fascinated by. In their curiosity to know how her hair feels, people often breach her personal space. She can’t escape the prying hands anywhere: in the street, under the sea, in the jungle, or even in space. She states the importance of asking for consent and learns to say “No!”
Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne Jones & Richard Watson
Lacey Walker loves to talk. She loves it so much that she doesn’t listen to what anyone else has to say. One day, she loses her voice. She has no choice but to listen. As she gets quieter and pays attention, she notices everything she’s been missing out on. She’s surprised to know that her best friend is funny, finishes her homework on time, and ends up watching a movie with her brother. She gets her voice back eventually. She still loves to talk and does it often, but also tries to listen from time to time. This book teaches children that listening to the world around you is one of the highest forms of respect.
Last Stop On Market Street by Matt De La Peña & Christian Robinson
Litte CJ takes his weekly bus journey with his nana. He’s disappointed that they can’t drive a car like his friends. His nana makes him see and appreciate the beauty in the people that they meet during their bus ride. She teaches him to respect his place in the world, and people who are different from him. Their bus journey ends at a soup kitchen where they volunteer and give back to the community. CJ’s wise nana says, “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.” It’s a lesson we can all take with us.
For more great books that teach children the ropes, check out 25 Picture Books That Promote Empathy & Respect and 10 Powerful Children’s Books About Consent.