10 Books About Doing the Right Thing

Being kind to others, telling the truth, returning a lost item, and apologizing for mistakes--these are all things that kids know they should do, but especially as kids get older, these tasks are not always easy. The stories in this list help children of varying ages learn about the importance of doing the right thing, even when it feels tough to do so. Each book includes vibrant illustrations and a story that makes the lesson easy for kids to absorb without feeling like they’re being hit over the head by the morals.

10 Things I Can do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

Taking care of the world may feel like a very big job, but even very little people can help. From turning off lights to using both sides of a piece of paper, this book offers easy reminders for all of us to help protect our planet.


Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

While working in his grandfather’s bakery, Benny learns the joys of giving and receiving, caring and gratitude.


The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street by Ann Redisch Stampler

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Mrs. Spiegel loves her two cats, but it’s clear that her grouchy neighbor, Mr. Modiano, doesn’t share her warm feelings. Should we be surprised that, when one of the cats goes missing, it is Mr. Modiano who searches the streets of Tel Aviv to find her?


Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

When a family of otters moves in next to Mr. Rabbit, he’s a little nervous -- he’s not sure if they’ll get along. But then he remembers the Golden Rule: Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you! This book shows how treating others with respect is the basis of friendship, cooperation, and sharing.


How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

All the grownups in the city were too busy to notice. Only a small child saw the injured pigeon lying helplessly on the sidewalk. This quiet story of a boy, a bird, and a broken wing relates the power of compassion, patience, and hope.


Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America by Susan Goldman Rubin

Recommended for ages 8 and up

Jean longed to be a pirate, and with the help of his brothers and uncle, he became one when he was just a teenager. This thrilling picture book follows along with the adventures of real-life pirate Jean Laffite. Throughout all his escapades, Jean never forgets his Jewish upbringing.


Joseph and the Sabbath Fish by Eric A. Kimmel

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Joseph always welcomes guests to his Sabbath table, while his neighbor Judah scoffs at Joseph’s generosity. Even as his fortunes decline, Joseph’s door remains open. Times change and Judah turns to Joseph for help. A very special fish helps save the day.


Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

A piece of red cloth falls from the sky -- and now a shoeshine boy tries to find its rightful owner. Set in a Lower East Side tenement neighborhood, this story exemplifies the value of hashavat aveidah, returning lost objects, in a rich, multicultural community.


New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

In this contemporary story, Izzy finds it difficult to apologize for a certain mistake, until the Rosh Hashanah tashlich service gives him new understanding.


One Little Chicken by Elka Weber

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

When Leora finds a chicken in her front yard, she imagines keeping it; her mother has a very different view. Following a Jewish law that “finders aren’t keepers,” the family will care for the chicken until its rightful owner returns. After all, how much trouble can one little chicken be?