10 Books to Help Kids Become More Responsible

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Mamoo Kids asked me for a list of books to help kids become more independent. That got me thinking … can books for kids teach kids about responsibility? Why not? It will help start the discussion and that might lead to better remembering which might lead to being more responsible!

@pragmaticmom great site! love your recommendations. do you have suggestions for books on helping kids become more independent? responsible?

  1. having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one’s job or role.

We are also using chores and allowance to get kids to be more responsible as well as to help around the house. We pay their age each week for doing a chore.

  • My son feeds the dog twice a day. (We kept overfeeding our dog so it helped to have one person in charge.)
  • Grasshopper and Sensei does the dishes.
  • PickyKidPix cleans the dining room and kitchen after dinner.
  • They all help with laundry (sort of).

What do you do to get your kids to be more responsible? I’d love to hear your ideas for chores, allowance, and anything else! And what are your favorite books on this subject? Thank you!!

10 Books to Help Kids Become More Responsible

10. I Just Forgot by Mercer Mayer

I think the Little Critter books are really amusing but this one is a particular favorite of mine because I hear my kids’ voices in my head as I read it saying, “I just forgot!” And they do too. My kids and Little Critter. Is Little Critter memory challenged or is he just not paying enough attention? Either way, it’s a fun way to go over what you are supposed to remember every day!  

9. Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

It takes just a nine-year-old girl who plants a handful of lima bean seeds to remember her father that turns a derelict lot into something that brings her diverse community together. In each story, neighbors come together over the promise of something hopeful and previously unexpressed. Curtis hopes the tomatoes can win Lateesha back. Virgil’s dad sees a cash harvest of lettuce. Sae Young regains her trust in people. I love the idea that a child can be the catalyst of turning a vacant lot into a community garden. Responsibility can go beyond just caring for oneself but also for one’s community.

8. Arthur’s Pet Business by Marc Brown

My girls started a dog walking business to make extra money but only PickyKidPix was willing to do the work when the weather was cold. Arthur is lobbying to get a dog and he thinks that by taking care of other people’s pets he will convince his parents that he is responsible. It is a lot of work to take care of pets! Will it work?

7. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

Big Anthony is not exactly the most responsible person in the world as Strega Nona knows all to well. He’s supposed to take care of her house while she’s gone and he’s certainly not supposed to try magic. This funny classic picture book teaches what not to do when it comes to being responsible. I’m sure your kids are not like Big Anthony!

6. Rocky Road by Rose Kent

What if the child is more responsible than the adult? 12-year-old Tess takes care of her hearing-impaired younger brother and helps her mother as best she can in her latest “get rich quick” plan. They move from Texas to Schenectady, New York to open an ice cream shop in the middle of winter. Is it true that Ice cream warms the heart, no matter what the weather?

I like this chapter book for kids to realize that sometimes kids have more responsibilities than adults when parents have special needs or coping issues. In this case, Tess’s mother is bi-polar but doesn’t realize it until the end of the book.

5. The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey

You might know Dav Pilkey more for his graphic novel series Captain Underpants which is now at the top of the Banned/Challenged book list.  His sweet picture book depicts an African-American boy who must get up early to do his paper route on a cold morning when it hard to get up. It’s a really gentle story that models responsible behavior.

4. The Pigsty by Mark Teague

For kids who don’t clean their rooms until it gets to bad that it resembles a pigsty, complete with pigs. Yes, pigs included! I love that there are consequences, albeit hilarious ones, for not being responsible.  And in Wendell’s case, it’s easy to clean up if you can get the pigs to help! 

3. The Emperor’s Egg: Read and Wonder by Martin Jenkins

This nonfiction picture book describes the animal kingdom’s most responsible dad: the Emperor Penguin! He stands in the freezing cold with an egg on his feet for two months, not eating and turning it carefully until it hatches. Can you imagine how hard that must be?!  

2. Rules by Cynthia Lord

12-year-old Catherine feels like her world revolves around her younger brother who is Autistic. To help him fit in (and also to not embarrass her), she teaches him rules of behavior like “keep your pants on in public” and “no toys in the fish tank.” Feeling responsible for David’s behavior makes it hard for her to make friends but things change when a new girl moves in next door and she meets Jason while waiting for David at a therapy appointment. Should she feel this much responsibility for David’s behavior? She just wants to fit it but what exactly is normal?

1. Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Saturday by Judith Viorst

Alexander gets a dollar from his grandparents last Sunday and suddenly he’s rich!! It’s burning a hole in his pocket though. A dollar can buy a lot of things! What happens to Alexander’s fortune? A delightful and hilarious picture book on personal finance for kids.


Books for Teaching Kids About Responsibility Honorable Mentions

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day has that same raw emotional pull that makes you want to hug this book forever in your heart. Celebrating a teacher that made a difference, it tells the story of three boys who do something out of their comfort zone to let their beloved teacher understand how much she meant to them. The weaving of the three voices as their stories unfold is not as seamless or tightly woven as a Newbery winner tends to be, and that is why I don’t think it will win, but I urge everyone to read it and gift to teachers that you know who are making a difference. In this book, one of the boys, Brand, is the sole caretaker of his father who is confined to a wheelchair. No one really realizes what this means in terms of responsibility except Ms. Bixby who quietly provides the support that he needs.

See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

11-year-old Alex Petroski in on a road trip with his dog Carl Sagan, but he still thinks to prepare meals for his mother who suffers from a mental health disease. The story arc swings back between Alex and who is taking care of him on his cross-country journey, but when he returns home, there is finally attention on the responsibilities that Alex has quietly had in caring and worrying about his mother.

Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno

After Cora’s father died, her mother does her best to hold the family together, but the weight of taking care of Adare falls on Cora. Her younger sister Adare has special needs because she was born without enough oxygen to her brain. Cora’s struggling to maintain some kind of stability in her life, with her only connection to her father a diary of plants and trees. She makes a friend at school who also lives unconventionally and discovers that friendships and dreams can still be attainable, even with the constant changes in her life. Though this book feels weighty with sadness, it’s an honest depiction of the slide into homelessness caused by the loss of a parent. Cora is easy to root for but she also shows us how difficult maintaining a typical routine is when you are unrooted and underresourced.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

It’s hard to imagine four kids living on their own but the newly orphaned Alden children cope by running away from a grandfather they’ve never met and believe to be cruel to live on their own in a boxcar. Henry, the oldest at 14, gets odd jobs to earn money to buy them food. Jessie, 12, is the mother hen. Violet, 10, paints and sews. Benny, just 6, is the baby. Thankfully, the grandfather turns out to be kind and takes the kids home to live with him but they do manage to cope on their own.

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