Talking with Kids about Honesty

Children learn a great deal about honesty through observation of examples set by their family members, friends, and various adults in positions of authority, such as church leaders, teachers, and political leaders. Unfortunately, many in that latter category don’t seem to be setting a very good example for our youngsters, these days. It appears that power and greed have taken over and kicked the value of honesty aside. Some political leaders have even taken to handing out punishments to those who are brave and noble enough to stand up and tell the truth!

Young children don’t understand all the details they overhear or see in the media. They are, however, familiar with the word “lie,” which currently appears a great deal in the news. This must be confusing for children. We used to, with a fairly clear conscience, teach them to admire and show respect for adults, which generally included our local, state, and national political leaders. That no longer seems possible.

Kids might not come to you with their questions, but they certainly must be wondering what to think about the importance of honesty. Once again, let’s turn to some great children’s book selections as a way to bring up the topic. Maybe you can get an important conversation started!


Scholastic: 5 Children’s Books That Encourage Honesty

Teach your child the importance of truthfulness with these five picture books.



At “Growing Book by Book”  Includes book list and descriptions, along with discussion guides.


The Lying King” at Children’s Books Heal


And it’s not too early to prepare for National Honesty Day at Celebrate Picture Books!


34 thoughts on “Talking with Kids about Honesty

  1. As a very young child, I was brought up in the Catholic religion, and took the teachings quite seriously. I was then evacuated to Wales in WW11 and sent to Methodist Chapel (“Hell and damnation” time). As I grew older, I was one very confused child I can tell you! I gradually realized I had a brain of sorts and could think for myself…Wow! No longer one of the sheep. So liberating! And while i have respect for religion and the ‘good people’ who practice it with integrity, it gradually dawned there was much hypocrisy and lying going on. Add greed and power and there’s one DANGEROUS COCKTAIL. I am now a Humanitarian, and happy with that. (I still hate lying…)

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    1. Thanks for this interesting perspective, Joy. Yes, there are many aspects of life that can be confusing to children. To go along with that, power used in the wrong ways in any of these areas can be very damaging. I imagine one of the best things we can do for kids is to help them learn to think independently!


    1. Hopefully the more current literature can teach the same types of lessons without the fear and gore. I love many of the classic fairy tales, but some seem too scary, especially for young children:) I suppose the adults need to know their audience and what would work for them.

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  2. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Becky. I remember times when students came to me, (the great wise one 🤣) with questions about the reality of things like Santa or the Easter Bunny. While I always liked to be honest with them, I didn’t want to be the one to burst their bubble.

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    1. Yes, those are also challenging questions for teachers. I’m sometimes relieved that I’m no longer working as a teacher with all the current political craziness going on. Not sure what I would say if all of that came up. That’s one occasion when books about honesty might come in handy!

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  3. Very timely post. I like the listed picture books too. There is a culture of lies, alternative facts, and deliberate distortions. There are also opinions like which is better cats or dogs (to ask a question that I hope does not inflame too many readers like which political party is better.) One of us may be a cat person and the other a dog person. Both pets have their plusses and minuses. What do you do in those cases?

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    1. Thanks, Pat; glad you liked the book lists about honesty. You bring up some interesting related points. Different opinions are fine as long as they’re based on real, true information. For example, if someone says that “dogs are better because cats aren’t friendly, pee in the house, scratch you with their claws and don’t like to be cuddled,” then they are just spouting off stuff that THEY focus on to suit their own purposes because they already like dogs better! ALL of those same things could be said of certain dogs:)

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      1. So true. For eighteen years, I lived with a cat who never scratched furniture, always used her box, never jumped on a table or counter, and absolutely refused to eat human food. It always was interesting to watch people who said, “That can’t be true!” revise their opinions after being around Dixie Rose for a while. The power of a living example to influence opinions often is greater than any passionate argument.

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  4. Oh, this is an interesting topic, especially since there is ample research that suggests that we all are just a little dishonest. What came to mind Aesop’s fables. Given that that many of the fables deal with honesty and lying it seems that this question has been around for centuries. I believe that children are intuitive. They know when parents are worried, even if they say everything is okay (just a small little fib) I agree wholeheartedly that books are key to opening the discussion. There are brilliant children’s writers who have a marvelous way to lead the discussion. A great post, with an excellent follow-up conversation. Looking forward to following your posts.

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    1. I’m sure that most of us do fib now and then, Rebecca:) Yes, Aesop’s fables are great examples of stories that teach a lesson and have been around forever! I believe that some are redone to be even more child-friendly, as well. Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we do tell little lies out of kindness, but honesty has deep roots embedded in our DNA, which is reflected in our fairy tales, mythologies and spiritualities. Every generation has a way in which to help children reflect on this subject. I often wonder what they will say about our generation 100 years from now. Thanks for creating a place for great conversations.

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  5. Wonderful post that is really needed during this time. I like the title, the lying king, and I will remember this when grandchildren come along and are old enough to understand. Thank you.

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