The best books about honesty you can read with children

Why am I passionate about this?

Victoria Talwar, PhD, is a professor and the chair of the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology at McGill University. She is a recognized leading expert on children’s deception and has published numerous articles on children’s honesty and lie-telling behaviors. Dr. Talwar has given workshops to parents, teachers, social workers, and legal professionals. Among other distinctions, she was awarded the Society for Research on Child Development Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Child Development Research award. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 7), a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. 


I wrote...

The Truth About Lying: Teaching Honesty to Children at Every Age and Stage

By Victoria Talwar,

Book cover of The Truth About Lying: Teaching Honesty to Children at Every Age and Stage

What is my book about?

Lying is a natural and inevitable part of child development. But when do lies become a problem? Based upon 20 years of scientific research and knowledge, I present practical, science-based strategies on how to handle lying, foster truthfulness in children, and the key ingredients to foster open honest communication from early childhood to the teenage years.

Learn how to use stories and examples to have proactive conversations with children about honesty. I show parents how to demonstrate honesty across different social settings, and how to tell the truth in ways that do not hurt others’ feelings—not an easy task! Backed by years of psychological research, this common sense guide reveals which parenting strategies promote truthfulness in children—and which ones don’t.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Empty Pot

Victoria Talwar Why did I love this book?

This is my favourite book to read to children about honesty. It illustrates why it is good to tell the truth.

Often books focus on the negative aspects of lying. My research shows that it is important to show there are positive consequences for honesty.

In this book, the Emperor gives a seed to each child in the kingdom, proclaiming, “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time, shall succeed me to the throne!”. The boy, Ping, plants his seed but it does not grow and he has nothing but an empty pot. He truthfully presents his failure. It turns into a triumphant end when his honesty (even as others are dishonest) is rewarded.

The artwork is delicate and the text simple, but powerful.

By Demi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Empty Pot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

The Empty Pot is Demi's beloved picture book about an honest schoolboy

A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom.

The Emperor loved flowers too. When it was time to choose an heir, he gave a flower seed to each child in the kingdom. "Whoever can show me their best in a year's time," he proclaimed, "shall succeed me to the throne!"

Ping plants his seed and tends it every day. But month after month passes, and nothing grows. When spring comes, Ping must go to the…


Book cover of Howard B Wigglebottom And The Monkey on His Back: A Tale About Telling The Truth

Victoria Talwar Why did I love this book?

The Wigglebottom books were a favourite in my house. This book was no exception.

Howard knows that lying is wrong, but he chooses to do it anyways. It is an excellent illustration of the negative emotions of guilt and worry that come from telling lies – it is like having a monkey on your back which just gets bigger and heavier with every lie. 

However, this is also an illustration of redemption when Howard makes the right choice to tell the truth and feels better. We read this book many times and it prompted many conversations about what it feels like to lie, to tell the truth, and why it is better to tell the truth.

By Howard Binkow, Susan Cornelison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Howard B Wigglebottom And The Monkey on His Back as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LISTEN BETTER to the little voice in your head, your intuition. Lying is wrong. Award-winning…educator endorsed. FREE download discussion ideas, poster, video, song and interactive questions. www.wedolisten.org

The We Do Listen Foundation is helping millions of children listen better to others, their hearts, feelings, bodies, and to intuition, the little voice in the head. 15 Howard B. Wigglebottom books, animations, songs and lessons help ages 4-7 become better listeners, learn important life lessons and feel good about themselves.

No one ever gets in trouble for too much listening.

Have a good listening day or the day of your choice.


Book cover of Be Honest and Tell the Truth

Victoria Talwar Why did I love this book?

What makes this a great book for parents of young children, is all the examples it provides on how children can be honest. 

It clearly illustrates to children concrete examples of honesty that are relevant to their everyday lives. It also has helpful suggestions at the back of the book of questions parents can ask children to promote deeper thinking, as well as activities and games to help children’s understanding.

As I discuss in my book about fostering children’s honesty, having conversations about honesty and illustrating how to tell the truth are crucial for developing children’s honest behaviour. This book is ideal for parents who want to start having these conversations with their preschool and kindergarten children.

By Cheri J Meiners,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Be Honest and Tell the Truth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

It s never too soon to learn the difference between what s true and what isn t. Words and pictures help young children discover that being honest in words and actions builds trust and self-confidence. They also learn that telling the truth sometimes takes courage and tact. Includes discussion questions, skits, scenarios, and games that reinforce the ideas being taught.


Book cover of The Honest to Goodness Truth

Victoria Talwar Why did I love this book?

Sometimes telling the truth is not straightforward.

This is a good book to have a more nuanced conversation with children in grade school about honesty and friendship, about how to be truthful and tactful, and how to consider other people’s feelings. As I discuss in my book, we don’t want children to be brutal and unfeeling in their honesty. 

This book can help children think about how to be honest with kindness.

By Patricia C. Mckissack, Giselle Potter (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Honest to Goodness Truth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From Coretta Scott King Award–winning author Patricia C. McKissack comes a humorous and poignant picture book about the right time to tell the truth.

“Tell the truth and shame the devil,” Libby’s mama has told her. So whatever is Libby doing wrong?

Ever since she started telling only the truth, the whole world seems to be mad at her. First, it’s her best friend, Ruthie Mae, who gets upset when Libby tells all their friends that Ruthie Mae has a hole in her sock. Then Willie gives her an ugly look when she tells the teacher he hasn’t done his…


Book cover of The True Story of George Washington and the Cherry Tree

Victoria Talwar Why did I love this book?

This is a well-known legend about George Washington. 

It also happens to be an excellent example of how to tell the truth about something you have done wrong and how it can lead to positive consequences. When examining the impact of stories on children’s truth-telling in our research, we found that when children heard this story they were more likely to subsequently tell the truth about their own transgression. 

We found that what made this story so good for children was hearing how George confessed about doing something wrong (cutting the cherry tree down) and then hearing how his father was proud of his son for telling the truth.

There is also a message for parents here. It’s important to give credit for honesty when you find it. It isn’t always easy telling the truth! 

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Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


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