Tired of saying, "What's the magic word?" and, "What do you say?" to your kids? These children's books about manners will be just the thing to show kids how enjoyable being polite actually is! But the books on this list don't just teach kids to say, "Please and thank-you," they demonstrate how being kind, cooperative, patient and respectful make the world a better place to live!
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The children's books about manners below are arranged in three categories:
- general etiquette
- kindness and honesty
- respecting personal space
The impetus to share with others doesn't come naturally until children are past the preschool years (and even beyond) but parents and educators can gently introduce the benefits of sharing by reading kids these picture books.
Thank You, Omu!
by Oge Mora
I adore the wonderful cut-paper collage illustrations in this timeless tale about the community value of generosity and sharing. Omu is making stew and its delicious smell enchants the neighborhood. One by one, a diverse group of visitors, drawn in by the scent of Omu's stew, knock on her door and ask for a bowl. Omu generously shares with others but eventually realizes that she no longer has any left for herself. Not to worry! Her neighbors don't forget her kindness and they all join together to return the favor. Ages 3 and up.
Looking for a way to encourage sharing on the playground? Be sure to check out the sharing ball!
by Leo Lionni
Lionni 's tale of three selfish frogs is a timeless classic. The frogs squabble constantly, "It's mine! It's mine!" and are unable to think of others or practice kindness. When a storm comes along they must figure out how to help each other and their survival depends on their ability to share. Ages 3 and up.
by Yusuke Yonezu
This adorable board book for toddlers will show your kids the joys of sharing. With bold graphics and clever die cuts, Yonezu's simple story demonstrates how some is better than none, and a half can bring a whole smile. But what happens when two children both want mommy? The sweet ending will result in lots of hugs. Ages 1 and up.
General Manners & Etiquette Books
The following books introduce etiquette in fun and unique ways that will capture your child's attention much better than the ol', "What's the magic word?"
What Do You Say, Dear?
by Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
A little humor when teaching manners will never go amiss. After all, one never knows when one will bump into a crocodile, and it's important to know the proper etiquette for such a situation. Sendak's whimsical illustrations bring to life the delightfully absurd theoretical situations. Ages 3 and up.
Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer
Could there be a more delicious way to teach manners than with cookies? I think not. Rosenthal's delightful book of lessons is about more than just saying please and thank you. It introduces concepts like cooperation, respect, courage and trustworthiness. Follow up with Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons, Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love, and One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond. A must read. Ages 3 and up.
by Arthur Yorinks, illustrated by David Small
This quirky story will jumpstart a fun conversation about how to treat guests. When aliens land in suburbia, it's important to remember your manners! It's also good to have spaghetti and meatballs on hand and not to be too hasty about calling the FBI. The story also has a nice message about refraining from prejudging others. Be sure to read the sequel, Company's Going. Ages 4 and up.
Kindness and Honesty
Yes, indeed. Being kind is also a matter of having good manners, as these wonderful books show. Also visit this list: Picture books about being kind
Lend a Hand: Poems about Giving
by John Frank, illustrated by London Ladd
Fourteen free verse poems inspire kids to reflect upon what a powerful act of kindness it is to give to others. I especially appreciated how many of the poems showed kids crossing boundaries to help others who were very different from themselves. A lot of kindness books focus on being nice to friends and neighbors, but here the focus is on the greater community and learning about others through kindness and generosity. Ages 5 and up.
The Honest to Goodness Truth
by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Giselle Potter
This thoughtful story is lesson in knowing how to speak about others. When Libby gets caught in a lie by her mother, she decides to tell only the whole truth from now on. But Libby's honesty makes others feel slighted and turns her friends away. When someone does the same to her, Libby realizes her mistake and apologies to her friends. A great book about how to be truthful without hurting others. Ages 5 and up.
Allowing Others Personal Space
Any list of children's books about manners must also include books that show kids how to respect personal boundaries and teach them how to assert themselves when it comes to their own personal space.
Will Ladybug Hug?
by Hilary Leung
Ladybug is leaving on a trip and saying goodbye to her friends. One by one, the narrator asks if each of Ladybug's friends will hug. Every one hugs in a different style, except for Sheep who doesn't want to hug at all. This book gives toddlers and preschoolers a friendly introduction to the concept of personal space, boundaries and consent. Ages 1 and up.
Don't Hug Doug
by Carrie Finison, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Finison's upbeat book empowers children to believe that it is okay to tell people they don't want to hug and that asserting personal boundaries is healthy and normal. Doug looks huggable but he doesn't like hugs. Others ask about a variety of situations but Doug says no to them all. Children will learn that it's okay to like hugs always, sometimes or never, and teaches them to always ask before hugging. Ages 3 and up.
The Bear Who Stared
by Duncan Beedie
Find it: Amazon
This is the only book I've come across that addresses the issue of staring. Bear loves to stare and it makes all the other animals uncomfortable. But Bear doesn't stare because he wants to be rude, he's just too shy to say anything. A friendly frog and a serendipitous reflection gives Bear an alternative to staring. Ages 3 and up.
"Patience is a virtue." I've said that so many times to my son. Perhaps I just should have read these books instead!
by Roxane Marie Galliez, illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh
I loved this book, as well as the companion picture book, Thank you, Miyuki, which also conveys a lovely lesson about patience and mindfulness. Miyuki goes outdoors with her grandfather and sees a flower that she wishes would "wake up!" Her grandfather, however, teachers her the value of patience and that the rewards of waiting are wonderful. Ages 4 and up.
Bilal Cooks Daal
by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed
I adore this picture book even more than I enjoy a delicious bowl of daal. Bilal is so excited to make daal with his dad! Food has a way of bringing people together, right? He explains to his diverse group of friends that the slow-cooked lentil dish takes lots of patience as well as lots of yummy ingredients. His friends have never tried it and they join him finding ways to wait out the lengthy preparation time. Ages 4 and up.
by Cheryl Kay Minnema, illustrated by Wesley Ballinger
Here's a fun book to read that teaches kids that it is possible to be courteous and respectful, even when you are so very, very hungry for yummy treats! Before they drive over to the community center for a meal, Johnny watches his grandma cook delicious food in her kitchen. At the community meal, all the kids know that first they must listen to the Ojibwe prayer, then they must wait for the elders to eat and only then can they help themselves. Johnny worries that there won't be any food left, but his grandmother helps him wait it out. Ages 3 and up.
Listening to Others
Good manners includes an understanding of how and when to speak up, but also to know how to listen.
Quiet Please, Owen McPhee
by Trudi Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton
For kids who don't yet have the skills to understand when and how much to talk with others, this is a great book to start a conversation! Owen McPhee loves to talk, and he does so–incessantly. But with all this talking he doesn't have much time to listen. One day he comes down with laryngitis and when he is forced to listen he learns its value and even comes up with his own surprising solution so he won't forget to listen to others in the future! Ages 4 and up.
The Rabbit Listened
by Cori Doerrfeld
Taylor (depicted as gender neutral so any child can identify with Taylor) is building a block tower when a bird comes and knocks it over. Taylor is very upset and several animals come over to try and fix the situation. They go about it all wrong, however. They shout, vow revenge or try to dismiss Taylor's grief–not exactly comforting. The rabbit, however, listens and allows Taylor to experience an entire range of emotions over the loss of his tower. I absolutely adored this book and parents will learn a good lesson for themselves when reading it, too! Ages 3 and up.