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May 14, 2019

Little Lies and Books with Big Lessons in Honesty

Liar liar

Discover five great books about the importance of honesty, recommended by the Brighter Readers Book Crew!

You’ve heard of Pinocchio and of the boy who cried wolf, but there are even more characters learning lessons in truth — and with less tragic consequences! Sometimes kids stretch the truth a bit too much. And it’s normal — it’s all part of how your child develops their understanding of people. But as a grown up in their life, you can explore these topics and have little conversations that bring on big lessons.

We asked members of our Brighter Readers Book Crew to share their favorite children’s books about about the importance of honesty. Check our list out, and share your favorite reads with us in the comments

Ellery Feay is a high school student at Riverside High and works part time at Kids Ink, Children’s Bookstore. One of her many favorite books is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Ellery loves reading books because the story becomes what you take from it, “One of the coolest things to do with a book is read it again and again at different times in your life and observe how it affects you.” These are her picks:

Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl book cover
Fancy Nancy And The Mean Girl
Jane O’Connor, Author and Robin Preiss Glasser, Illustrator
Best For: Four-year-olds, Five-year-olds, School Age, Reading Along With Pre-school And Pre-k Learners
“Nancy has to run a relay race for field day but does not want to because she knows she’ll be bullied for how slow she runs. She decides to pretend to hurt her foot so she will not have to participate in the race. However, her dad finds out and convinces her to run the race.”

After you read: Ask, “Do you think Nancy had a good reason to lie?” and “What else could Nancy have done instead of not telling the truth?” Or tell your little one about a time you tried to do something that you knew wouldn’t be easy. When we talk about our own challenges, children learn that they can tackle tricky moments too.

A Bike Like Sergio’s
Maribeth Boelts, Author and Nora Z. Jones, Illustrator
Best For: Four-year-olds, Five-year-olds, School Age, Reading Along With Pre-school And Pre-k Learners

“In this story, Ruben learns what to do in difficult situations between what is right and what you want. He finds $100 that was dropped by a woman he has become familiar with at the grocery store. Ruben must decide what to do with the money before his guilt gets ahead of him.”

After you read: Ask, “Do you believe in finders keepers?” Then, make some drawings together of what the right thing to do is in different scenarios where you find things. A stuffed animal on the sidewalk? A dollar bill in the check-out lane? Candy in the park? Your child likely has a good idea of what to do in each situation.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire book cover
Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire
Miriam Cohen, Author and Ronald Himler, Illustrator
Best For: Two-year-olds, Three-year-olds, Four-year-olds, Five-year-olds, School Age

“Alex is new at school and doesn’t have many friends. He starts to brag about cool toys that he knows he doesn’t have. His peers begin to catch on to his lying and no longer want to be his friend. One boy is nicer to him than the rest of his class.”

After you read: Play “Am I still cool?” Wear sunglasses and strike your coolest pose. Then, take them off and ask, “Am I still cool?” Make your hair messy and ask, “Am I still cool?” Take turns being silly and make each other laugh, then discuss what makes a person “cool.” Ask, “Am I still the same cool grandpa when I don’t have my grandpa hat?”

Pig the Fibber book cover
Pig The Fibber (Pig The Pug)
Aaron Blabey, Author and Illustrator
Best For: Three-year-olds, Four-year-olds, Infants, Five-year-olds, School Age

“Pig the Pug is known for his non-stop fibbing. He blames his fellow pet, Trevor, for all of his shenanigans. One day Pig has a plan that plays out different than expected and he never lies again.”

After you read: Come up with a plan to keep lies away. Sometimes telling the truth means we’ll get in trouble, but what if we have one word that means “I want to tell the truth but I’m scared”? Choose a code together, like “pancake” or even “Pig”, in honor of the original fibber.

Jennifer Delgadillo is a proud auntie of twins and the content specialist for Early Learning Indiana. This is her pick:

The Boy Who Cried Ninja
Alex Latimer, Author and Illustrator
Best For: Two-year-olds, Three-year-olds, Four-year-olds, Five-year-olds, School Age

“This story will give kids and grownups the giggles. When a boy named Tim tells his parents a ninja is the one who ate the last slice of cake, no one believes him. Then, an astronaut lands on the backyard and borrows a hammer, but no one believes Tim either. As scenarios get more absurd and harder to explain, Tim decides to lie to stay out of trouble. And after realizing lies don’t help very much either, Tim comes up with a plan so the truth can come out. I recommend this book for the great lessons for parents and little ones, but also because of the great illustration of the sunburned alligator that lands on the roof and breaks the antenna.”

After you read: Play ninja. In the book, lots of things get broken or go missing. Do an activity where you each will find five different things to fix or clean up. The fun twist: you have to do it like a ninja!

Brighter Readers Book Crew is a group of early education professionals, child advocates, parents and book-loving experts that want to share their love of stories and books with families all across the state. Want to share the books you love and why you think they are great? Send a message to with the subject line Book Crew.

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