Children’s Books on Trust

trust_bookDr. Robyn Silverman

I’ve recently been asked about ways to bring up the Powerful Word, Trust, in your family.  One way to do that is through Children’s Literature.  With so many books to choose from– and books for all ages, reading is a great way to get kids thinking. Not everything is about computers, right? Ask your librarian to help you choose books that echo the themes you’re learning in your Powerful Words Member School.

Here are just a few children’s books that use trust as a central theme:

Books on Trust

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This book from the popular Berenstain Bear series teaches your children about the importance of telling the truth. When Brother and Sister Bear accidentally break Mama’s favorite lamp, a little lie grows bigger and bigger until Papa Bear helps them find the words that set everything right again.

The Boy who Cried Wolf, Fable

“A liar will not be believed, even when telling the truth.” There was a Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. He thought it would be funny to play a trick on the villagers. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him. This pleased the boy so much that a few days after he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. Shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest. The boy cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again lying, and nobody came to his aid.

The Butter Battle Book, by Dr. Seuss. NY: Random House, 1984.
This story presents a ridiculous example of prejudice against people who do things differently. It looks at pride in one’s own beliefs and examines trust, respect and responsibility.

Falling Up – Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
This collection of poems includes several that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

George and Martha Rise and Shine, by James Marshall. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976.
This is comprised of Five short stories teach about lying, helping people, joining in, comforting and trusting.

A Light in the Attic – Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1981.
This collection of poems includes several that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

The Lion and the Mouse- Aesop’s Fable

This fable features the story of a lion who was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: “If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness.” The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught in some ropes by the hands of some hunters. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free. The story shows that even someone weaker and smaller can uphold their promises and be trustworthy.

The Real Thief by W. Steig, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Gawain the goose is really devoted to King Basil the bear and so he takes his job as Chief Guard of the Royal Treasury seriously. When rubies, then gold ducats, and finally the world-famous Kalikak diamond vanish from the treasure house, there is no way to account for the disappearances. Only Gawain and the King have keys! Gawain is falsely accused of stealing the precious commodities until the real thief steps forward with a guilty conscience.

Trust Me, Mom! by Angela McAllister

Today is the day that Ollie will finally be allowed to go to the store all by himself. He can barely contain his excitement, and Collins’s exuberant illustrations show him leaping down the stairs. His mother’s instructions are also very comically rendered, as she dons fake glasses and a mustache when warning him not to talk to anyone. He is quite confident and reassures her with the title phrase, Trust me, Mom. But he doesn’t venture far before he encounters a monster, something his mother didn’t caution him about. After scaring the creature away with a loud roar, Oliver resourcefully deals with a ghost, a witch, a bear, and two aliens before successfully completing his errand. The text has appealing turns of phrase, as when the ghost fades away like a sad puff of breath after Oliver tells it that he doesn’t believe in it.

The Wild Kid by Harry Mazer (1998) Gr. 4-6.

Sammy, a 12-year-old with Down syndrome, doesn’t intend to run away. But he ends up lost in a forest preserve, eventually falling over the hideout of Kevin, a reform-school escapee who has been living in the preserve for months or, perhaps, years. Not willing to have his cover blown, Kevin doesn’t know what to do about Sammy. As the two share fragments of their life stories, Kevin shows Sammy the ropes, and both find their mutual distrust fading. Ignoring Kevin’s scorn, Sammy decides that Kevin should come live with him and be his brother. The 13-day adventure is seen entirely from Sammy’s point of view, and Mazer captures his world, his feelings, and his reactions with convincing surety. Readers will be equally drawn by Kevin’s internal struggle between loneliness and fear of discovery, though he remains a less well defined character. In the end, Kevin makes an anonymous call to police, then fades back into the forest, leaving Sammy with a story that no one really believes, plus the poignant expectation that his “brother” will come soon. Kevin’s sudden disappearance makes a stimulating loose end that may, paradoxically, strengthen readers’ responses to this survival-story-with-a-difference.

Take a look at others! Please add your favorites…

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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