92 books like Books That Build Character

By William Kilpatrick, Gregory Wolfe, Suzanne Wolfe

Here are 92 books that Books That Build Character fans have personally recommended if you like Books That Build Character. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

Thomas Lickona Author Of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain

From my list on raising good children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a developmental psychologist and former professor of education. My life’s work and 10 books have focused on helping families and schools foster good character in kids. Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility is credited with helping launch the national character education movement. My first book for parents, Raising Good Children, described how to guide kids through the stages of moral development from birth through adulthood. My focus these days is kindness and its supporting virtues. My wife Judith and I have two grown sons and 15 grandchildren, and with William Boudreau, MD, co-authored Sex, Love, and You: Making the Right Decision, a book for teens.

Thomas' book list on raising good children

Thomas Lickona Why did Thomas love this book?

This thought-provoking book by Bill Stixrud (a clinical neuropsychologist) and Ned Johnson (an SAT tutor) pops up on other “best books” lists on parenting. It deserves to be there. But it’s not, as the title might suggest, a prescription for “hands-off” parenting. On the contrary, it shows us how to actively help our kids become better decision-makers by giving them lots of guided practice in making decisions they’re capable of handling, such as: “Should I take on the challenge of moving to the next grade in school, or spend another year learning the important skills I didn’t learn very well this year?” (but definitely not decisions where, for example, danger is involved—like going to an unsupervised party).

In short, raising a “self-driven” child means doing more of a different kind of parenting—in a collaborative, mutually respectful relationship that’s more rewarding for both parent and child. It means looking for opportunities…

By William Stixrud, Ned Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Self-Driven Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Instead of trusting kids with choices . . . many parents insist on micromanaging everything from homework to friendships. For these parents, Stixrud and Johnson have a simple message: Stop." -NPR

"This humane, thoughtful book turns the latest brain science into valuable practical advice for parents." -Paul Tough, New York Times bestselling author of How Children Succeed

A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking motivation. Many complained they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school…


Book cover of Take Back Your Kids: Confident Parenting in Turbulent Times

Thomas Lickona Author Of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain

From my list on raising good children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a developmental psychologist and former professor of education. My life’s work and 10 books have focused on helping families and schools foster good character in kids. Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility is credited with helping launch the national character education movement. My first book for parents, Raising Good Children, described how to guide kids through the stages of moral development from birth through adulthood. My focus these days is kindness and its supporting virtues. My wife Judith and I have two grown sons and 15 grandchildren, and with William Boudreau, MD, co-authored Sex, Love, and You: Making the Right Decision, a book for teens.

Thomas' book list on raising good children

Thomas Lickona Why did Thomas love this book?

Bill Doherty is an astute psychologist and master storyteller who draws on a great store of examples and anecdotes from his work as a family therapist and director of the University of Minnesota’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program. What he sees most often missing in modern parents is not love, but the confident exercise of authority. His short book is an excellent tutorial on how to practice that. He’s right to emphasize it: At all developmental levels, studies find that an “authoritative” (not authoritarian) style of parenting is the one most often associated with kids’ becoming confident, respectful, and responsible persons. This parenting style values both obedience to adult requirements and independence in children, explains the reasons behind rules, allows give and take, but doesn’t permit kids to treat parents as peers.

Doherty’s chapter on 11 guidelines for giving and getting respect is a gem. He also offers good advice…

By William J. Doherty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take Back Your Kids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Childhood may be changing, but todays cable-ready, all-too-worldly kids are still just kids and should be treated that way. William J. Doherty does not want to recreate childhood as it was in simpler times, he merely wants to help parents adapt to the changes and create an even better future. Dohertys new book, Take Back Your Kids, offers a blueprint to do just that.

Too often, Doherty believes, parents merely provide services and opportunities for children, who in turn consider themselves "consumers of parental services." Hierarchy has diminished. Parents regularly make sacrifices in time and money they perceive to benefit…


Book cover of Character Building: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

Thomas Lickona Author Of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain

From my list on raising good children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a developmental psychologist and former professor of education. My life’s work and 10 books have focused on helping families and schools foster good character in kids. Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility is credited with helping launch the national character education movement. My first book for parents, Raising Good Children, described how to guide kids through the stages of moral development from birth through adulthood. My focus these days is kindness and its supporting virtues. My wife Judith and I have two grown sons and 15 grandchildren, and with William Boudreau, MD, co-authored Sex, Love, and You: Making the Right Decision, a book for teens.

Thomas' book list on raising good children

Thomas Lickona Why did Thomas love this book?

Reading this book is like taking a course from a wonderful teacher who opens your eyes to how much more there is to a subject than you ever imagined. David Isaacs was director of the School of Education at the University of Navarre, has published ten books and is the father of six children. This enduring classic, originally published in Spanish in 1976 but available in English, provides a clear, concise chapter on the meaning and importance of each of 24 teachable virtues: good judgment, orderliness, respect, responsibility, obedience to legitimate authority and rules, industriousness, moderation, modesty, justice, generosity, patience, friendship, and more.

Isaacs helpfully groups these virtues into four developmental periods (early and middle childhood, early and late adolescence) and tells us which virtues to emphasize during each period based on the characteristics of children at that age. His vision of virtues is also informed by his Catholic view…

By David Isaacs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Character Building as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book, author David Isaacs, an educationalist and parent, offers ideas and suggestions on how parents and teachers can help children's all-round development. The emphasis is on character building, approached from the viewpoint of moral habits. Professor Isaacs takes twenty-four virtues and discusses how the child - at different ages - can be encouraged to be obedient, industrious, sincere, prudent, generous, optimistic, sociable, and so on. There is no book on child development quite like this.


Book cover of The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens: Updated for the Digital Age

Thomas Lickona Author Of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain

From my list on raising good children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a developmental psychologist and former professor of education. My life’s work and 10 books have focused on helping families and schools foster good character in kids. Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility is credited with helping launch the national character education movement. My first book for parents, Raising Good Children, described how to guide kids through the stages of moral development from birth through adulthood. My focus these days is kindness and its supporting virtues. My wife Judith and I have two grown sons and 15 grandchildren, and with William Boudreau, MD, co-authored Sex, Love, and You: Making the Right Decision, a book for teens.

Thomas' book list on raising good children

Thomas Lickona Why did Thomas love this book?

I regularly recommend this terrific book, recently updated for the digital age, to both teens and their parents. Sean Covey is the son of the famous Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Sean is an experienced father, nationally known character educator (creator of The Leader in Me program), and highly talented author in his own right. His book on “the 6 most important decisions” tackles areas of a young person’s life where good decisions can bring big benefits and poor ones can carry a high cost: (1) choosing friends, (2) making the most of school, (3) creating a positive relationship with your parents, (4) building self-confidence, (5) dating and romantic relationships (without sex), and (6) steering clear of drugs, pornography, and other damaging addictions.

Covey’s gift for connecting with young readers combines straight talk, practical tips, humorous cartoon graphics, and hard-to-argue-with wisdom illustrated with true…

By Sean Covey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the wildly popular bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens comes the go-to guide that helps teens cope with major challenges they face in their lives-now updated for today's social media age.

In this newly revised edition, Sean Covey helps teens figure out how to approach the six major challenges they face: gaining self-esteem, dealing with their parents, making friends, being wise about sex, coping with substances, and succeeding at school and planning a career.

Covey understands the pain and confusion that teens and their parents experience in the face of these weighty, life-changing, and…


Book cover of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott Author Of Every Shot Must Have a Purpose: How GOLF54 Can Make You a Better Player

From my list on improving performance and growth.

Why we are passionate about this?

We have been coaching and learning about peak performance for four decades. To learn from playing golf ourselves, coaching others to play better, and continuously staying curious and learning from others is a mix that we want to keep alive. It’s not only to perform well that matters to us, but that we also grow as a human being. It’s about excellence and wellbeing. What skills, what culture, and what foundation can make that a possibility? Our deepest wish is for all of us to access our own unique possibilities to be good and happy. 

Pia and Lynn's book list on improving performance and growth

Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott Why did Pia and Lynn love this book?

Both of us read this book separately in the early 90s and started applying these habits, which have stayed with us ever since. These habits have given us a solid foundation for anything we have wanted to do in our lives.

You learn how to create your own vision for your life, clarify the most important values to act on, and use basic communication skills to create trust and synergy with the people around you. You also learn the importance of nurturing and managing yourself to be healthy, enjoy your life, and be able to be there for others.

These are some of the best life skills anyone can learn, no matter what work or hobbies you have, and it was natural to keep sharing these habits with other coaches and players even 30 years later!

By Stephen R. Covey,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestseller - over 25 million copies sold
The No. 1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century

"[Thirty] years after it first appeared, the wisdom of The 7 Habits is more relevant than ever. On an individual level people are burning out, and on a collective level we are burning up the planet. So Dr. Covey's emphasis on self-renewal and his understanding that leadership and creativity require us to tap into our own physical, mental, and spiritual resources are exactly what we need now." Arianna Huffington

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written,…


Book cover of The Road to Character

Andrea Nelson Trice Author Of Strong Together: Building Partnerships Across Cultures in an Age of Distrust

From my list on people who want to change the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a faculty member and program evaluator, I’ve spent over two decades exploring questions around cross-cultural dynamics, empowerment, and human flourishing. I care deeply about vulnerable people and the misuse of power, and I find joy in conducting research that can improve people’s lives. I recognize that my early work as a counselor brings a unique perspective to my work, as does my childhood, which was partially spent in the Peruvian rainforest. 

Andrea's book list on people who want to change the world

Andrea Nelson Trice Why did Andrea love this book?

David Brooks thinks deeply and writes thoughtfully. He challenges me through this book to be a better person and to live a more courageous, authentic life. 

As I conducted interviews with scores of social entrepreneurs and development leaders for my book, several commented on the toxic hero culture that exists in this space. 

People want to change the world for a variety of reasons–and some of these reasons have more to do with what success would do for them rather than for the people they are trying to serve. This book shines a light on this problem, and I appreciate David’s courage in writing what he did. 

By David Brooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Road to Character as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Number-one New York Times best seller

David Brooks challenges us to rebalance the scales between the focus on external success - “résumé virtues” - and our core principles.

Named one of the best books of the year by The Economist 

With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous best sellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to…


Book cover of The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

This is a little-known book that delves deeper and more effectively into the challenges of defining oneself than any other book I have read.

The book is an attempt by a famous critical theorist to speak to the common person who is struggling with the various pieces of advice and guidance that they receive from different sources. It is more complex and difficult than the others on the list, but I got so much out of it. 

By Mari Ruti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Call of Character as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Should we feel inadequate when we fail to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is it realistic or even desirable to strive for such an existential equilibrium? Condemning our current cultural obsession with cheerfulness and "positive thinking," Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies and argues that sometimes a tormented and anxiety-ridden life can also be rewarding. Ruti critiques the search for personal meaning and pragmatic attempts to normalize human beings' unruly and idiosyncratic natures. Exposing the tragic banality of a happy life commonly lived, she instead emphasizes the advantages of a lopsided life…


Book cover of Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality

Jerry Meek Author Of While You Wait: Finding Purpose in the “Not Yets”

From my list on Christian business leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

It has been an incredible journey, starting with $200 in assets 45 years ago and finally starting to achieve what I had dreamed of in life and business after struggling for two decades. I learned through the value of reading and building quality relationships, with God's help, I would be successful in life and business. Based in Cave Creek, Arizona, I've spent my career building Desert Star Construction, known by clients and industry colleagues as "the best team in the luxury home business." It is an online community that helps overwhelmed Christian marketplace leaders rediscover their eternal purpose and find unending joy in their life and leadership. 

Jerry's book list on Christian business leaders

Jerry Meek Why did Jerry love this book?

In business, we all have the skills to succeed in our given fields of expertise. Being good at something does not guarantee success. Integrity shows the value of having the Integrity to succeed in business and life. Everyone has Integrity, but how well has it been developed? Like a boat, what are we leaving in our wake? It is more than the money we make; it is the relationships and results. Dr. Cloud teaches the actual cost of a bad employee, regardless of how much money they bring in. If you genuinely intend to be successful in all areas, you must understand that Integrity is the courage and skills to face the demands of reality. Maturing your character will allow you to build a prosperous life and business that will last beyond your lifetime.

By Henry Cloud,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Integrity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "Integrity", Dr. Cloud explores the six qualities of character that define integrity. He uses stories from well-known business leaders like Michael Dell and sports figures like Tiger Woods to illustrate each of these qualities. He shows us how people with integrity: are able to connect with others and build trust; are oriented toward reality; finish well; embrace the negative; are oriented toward increase; have an understanding of the transcendent; and, success is not related to only talent or brains. There are a lot of bright, talented people who are never successful. And the most successful are not only the…


Book cover of Malice

Yawatta Hosby Author Of Urban Legends

From my list on being terrorized by things that go bump in the night.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hola, I’m Yawatta Hosby, and I have an open mind about monsters, ghosts, and urban legends. I believe they’re real, especially the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Earth is too big to only have humans. I have a passion for the topic being terrorized by things that go bump in the night. My book, Urban Legends, plays into that theme. October, the spooky season, is my favorite. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Every year, I watch a horror movie every day for 31 days straight. I also love reading horror books and researching urban legends. I’d like to think I’m an expert in horror, but it could all be in my head haha.

Yawatta's book list on being terrorized by things that go bump in the night

Yawatta Hosby Why did Yawatta love this book?

The author did great creating a frightening vibe throughout the book. I was spooked from the very first sentence–"The stranger grinned and his sunken cheeks made his face look like a skull.” I loved that the story was a mystery with Lysander trying to figure out why he was seeing unusual things. I also enjoyed the sarcastic sense of humor in Derek, Sam, and Lysander’s friendship. I was definitely kept in suspense until the last second. Moral of the story–don’t mess with a witch; you may pay for what your ancestors did.

By Griffin Hayes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Malice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The chill-factor was immensely high in Malice! This was a great read." --J.A. Redmerski, #1 bestselling Kindle author of THE EDGE OF NEVER.
Welcome to Millingham, MA, pop. 5000... 4997... 4993...
A serial killer stalks the streets of this small, isolated community. A killer as ancient as the town itself, murdering at will and never leaving a trace.

The sheriff has convinced himself and others that the recent rash of deaths in the town are just suicides, but Lysander Shore knows different. He knows the townsfolk are being hunted by something that shouldn't exist. And the deeper Lysander digs, the…


Book cover of Moral of the Story: Folktales for Character Development

Margaret Read MacDonald Author Of Teaching with Story: Classroom Connections to Storytelling

From my list on storytelling for teachers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the importance of telling stories in the classroom. My career has been as a children’s librarian in public libraries, but with much time spent telling stories in schools. My daughter and her husband followed in my footsteps as storytellers and found that using storytelling in the classroom has so many benefits. We all offer workshops for teachers, write articles encouraging storytelling, and try in any way possible to grow the corps of teachers who discover this joyful addition to the classroom.

Margaret's book list on storytelling for teachers

Margaret Read MacDonald Why did Margaret love this book?

This book contains twelve easily told tales that can be used to discuss character development. The Norfolks include suggestions for classroom use of the tales. I like to recommend this to the teachers in my storytelling classes as the advice comes from a teacher who has written several other books on using stories in the classroom.

By Bobby Norfolk, Sherry Norfolk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moral of the Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To kids everywhere, in the hope that their elders will never stop telling stories.

Throughout history, traditional cultures have recognized the role of storytelling in teaching values to children. This user-friendly, hands-on guide to using storytelling and folktales in character education provides not only rationale for this approach, it includes stories. These twelve stories are fun, time- and audience-tested, and accessible to a wide range of listeners, from preschool to high school.

The tales are enhanced by suggested activities or informal lesson plans, source notes, and extensive bibliographies that point the reader to additional sources of folktales suitable for character…


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