Picture Books for Teaching Citizenship

Teaching citizenship is one of my favorite things about being a first-grade teacher. This essential lesson is not only helpful for the classroom but also for continued success as children grow. Not to mention, teaching citizenship early on is a great way to help your students understand the types of behaviors you're shooting for on a daily basis! If you're looking for new ways to instill good citizenship behaviors into your classroom, you'll love this list of fun picture books and activities to use alongside your lessons. 

Use these picture books for teaching citizenship to enhance your citizenship units and activities in your classroom this year.

Using Picture Books to Teach Good Citizenship

When our firsties walk through the door at the beginning of the year, they definitely look and act more like kindergarteners. This is to be expected, right? As a brand-new first grader, it's hard to know what to expect until they've been taught. Keeping this in mind, I'm careful to craft my initial lessons in a way that will help set my students up for success and begin to understand the ins and outs of expected classroom behaviors. 

To help support this goal, I tend to teach citizenship at the beginning of the year. Citizenship lessons in this unit are a great introduction to what Social Studies will look like in first grade. They also present a wonderful opportunity to tie in our lessons with classroom rules and expectations. In my room, we always preface these lessons with books. Why? Because picture books help to illustrate positive and poor choices. I've found that young students need these examples and fictional stories to fully grasp this concept. 

Begin your citizenship unit with a mini reader activity like this which is a great way to begin teaching citizenship to your students.

The very first book we use is actually a mini booklet from our Citizenship unit. I give each child a copy and read aloud as they follow along. Then we might have a short discussion on these topics as they color in the pictures. This is a great introduction and helps students learn some of the key vocabulary we'll be using throughout the unit. 

After this introduction, I like to add some more fun picture books to the mix to cement these topics. Here are some of my favorites. 

1. What Should Danny Do? Book Series by Ganit & Adir Levy

First on my list is actually a series of books that will do wonders for behavior management and teaching citizenship in the classroom. These books are especially helpful for the beginning of the year as students are just beginning to learn about the routines and expectations. 

In these playful books, a young boy named Danny is faced with many choices in his everyday life. Children will listen to the story, and choose an action for Danny to take. This book uses a "choose your own ending" type of approach that will have you flipping to the correct page based on your choice. The interactive component of this book will keep students interested and ensure a new experience every time you read aloud. 

What Should Danny Do? by Ganit & Adir Levy is a fantastic book series to kick off your teaching citizenship unit.

The idea in these books is to model positive and negative choices as well as their consequences. I find these to be great conversation starters for the classroom! Another fun benefit to these books is that they empower students to remember the phrase "I have the power to choose". This is such a great way to teach young students that they are in control of their actions, reactions, and behaviors. 

2. What Should Darla Do? by Ganit & Adir Levy

If you thought this title sounded familiar, you're right! This book is very similar to the ones listed above and written by the same author. This book follows Darla as she is faced with choices and decisions to make. It comes with 8 different stories in one, so you can read a little each day and have a short chat with your students. 

I pair this book (along with the ones above) alongside my citizenship sorting activity. After we've read, I call on students to help me sort out some of these behaviors into categories labeled "Good Citizenship" and "Needs Work Citizenship". This activity comes in color, which is great for making a large anchor chart. You can also laminate the cards and use them as a center activity or partner game if you'd like to give students more practice after your group lesson. 

Another fantastic book to enhance your teaching citizenship unit, What Should Darla Do pairs perfectly with the Citizenship Sorting Activity.

There is also a black-and-white version if you'd like to have students make their own chart as well. To do this, I like to give them a large piece of construction paper and fold it in half. They can use one side for each category to sort them out as they go. Once they're done sorting, I have them color and glue them down. This is fun because they have their very own chart they can take home after your lesson! 

3. We Are Citizens by Laine Falk

Looking for a book to help illustrate and define good citizenship to your students? This book is a great option! Inside you'll find full-color photos that will help students understand what it truly looks like to be a good citizen. 

We are Citizens by Laine Falk is the perfect addition to your teaching citizenship unit and will help your 6-7 yr old students understand what it means to be a good citizen.

This book is geared towards children who are 6-7 years old, so many of the examples are highly applicable to firsties and primary students. Read through this book to cover topics like speaking up for what's right, working together, caring for the environment, and listening to others. 

4. Being a Good Citizen by Adrian Vigliano 

Next up, this book is a great option for introducing the concept of being a Good Citizen in different environments. This book provides examples that show what it looks like to be a good citizen at home, at school, and in the community. This book makes it easy to understand how small actions add up, and everyone can do their part in being a good citizen. 

After we've read this book, I like to open the floor for some discussion. Ask students about things that they could do to strengthen different areas of their community. As you brainstorm, you can list out suggestions for each category on the board or chart paper. Since I'm working with firsties, I do my best to add some fun illustrations for each suggestion as we go. This always ups the engagement and makes my students smile!

Your teaching citizenship unit worksheets pair perfectly with the book Being a Good Citizen by Adrian Vigliano

Then, I like to follow up with some of the worksheets in my citizenship unit. I have several options that focus on what good citizenship looks like at home, at school, and in our communities. Depending on the skill levels of students, I might have them work on cut-and-paste pages, or work on a writing page. This extension activity is a great way to check in on student understanding of these topics. 

5. Being a Good Citizen: A Kid's Guide to Community Involvement by Rachelle Kreisman

If you want to provide more examples to your students about being an active participant in their community, this book is a great way to do so! This book uses real, full-color photos of children participating in community clean-up projects and charitable events. 

Being a Good Citizen: A Kid's Guide to Community Involvement is a great book to include in your classroom library as you are teaching citizenship to your students.

I like this book because it gets kids thinking about something other than themselves. We all know that young students can be a little bit self-focused by nature. This helps to open their eyes a bit and see outside of themselves, which is something even us adults need a reminder of at times! I like to follow up this book with a fun brainstorming activity where I ask students to help me come up with ways we could "take care" of the classroom or school grounds. 

Talking through the ideas is a lot of fun and it might even open up the opportunity for a class clean-up project that you can tackle together! 

6. Democracy for Dinosaurs by Laura Krasny Brown

Looking to tie in some information about rules, laws, leaders, and democracy? This book is the perfect way to do so! This book will share information about essentials in a democratic society. Students will learn about freedom, fairness, laws, equality, free speech, truth, and respect. Though these are BIG topics, they're covered in a very meaningful way throughout this book. Students will learn about these processes and what it means for them. 

Democracy for Dinosaurs is an adorable book filled with exciting pictures to help students learn about freedom, fairness, laws, equality, free speech, and more and pairs perfectly with the activities about rules and laws in the Citizenship Unit.

This book pairs perfectly with the booklets and activities about rules and laws as well as leaders in our lives from my citizenship unit. I like to read the booklets aloud with students and then have them work on the cut-and-paste activities afterward. Reading the book first helps to introduce these concepts and then the follow-up booklets and activities help to really drive these concepts home! 

7. Be A Good Citizen by Julien Bodrieu

Looking for another option that discusses laws and responsibilities in an engaging format? This book is just the one! It will pair well with the activities and booklets mentioned above, and make a great addition to your read-aloud time. After reading, you might want to make this one available for students to flip through, so they can take a closer look at the colorful illustrations. 

Be a Good Citizen by Julien Bodrieu is a great book to read to your students as you are teaching citizenship and includes easy to understand information for even your youngest students.

Students will love the easy-to-understand information about laws, rights, and responsibilities. This book will lay the foundation for understanding why laws and necessary and how abiding by the code of conduct aims at making the whole community healthier. 

8. What Can a Citizen Do by Dave Eggers

This last picture book for teaching citizenship is a great follow-up to your activities and lessons. In this rhyming book, students will learn about how seemingly small actions can add up big time! In this book, kiddos will learn about all of the ways they can make an impact and ultimately a difference in their community. 

As you read through this story, you might have students consider how each of the actions suggested is helpful to the community. This is a thought-provoking question that will have students thinking deeply about how their daily actions benefit everyone in the community. 

The citizenship headband activity in the Citizenship Unit is a great craft to do with your students after reading What Can a Citizen Do by Dave Eggers.

This story is great to use alongside this citizenship headband activity. I like to encourage students to write down one way they can be a good citizen in our classroom on the backside of the crown. Then, they get to color the front. I walk around the room with a stapler and help students size the crowns appropriately. Everyone loves reading what each person wrote on their crown!

Even More Resources for Teaching Citizenship

Picture books are just the beginning, friends! I love using books to open the conversation, provide examples, and get students thinking. After that, you can expand on these topics with anchor charts, writing prompts, and activities that will challenge students. 

Include this mobile craft activity in your citizenship unit as you are teaching citizenship.

You can find all of the fun resources mentioned in this post, along with many more in my citizenship unit! I can't recommend it enough if you're looking for a simple and effective way to teach all about citizenship. This resource is filled with mini booklets, worksheets, writing pages, graphic organizers, and even crafts! In addition to the crown craft, you'll also find a mobile craft that is always a student favorite. 

I like to use the mobile as the final activity in our lessons on citizenship. Students will list ways they can be productive at school, home, and in their community. They are really fun hanging from the ceiling in the classroom or down the hallway. Plus, they'll serve as a great reminder of ways to be a good citizen every day! 

Use this Citizenship Social Studies Unit to help you when teaching citizenship this year making citizenship easy to understand for your students.

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Looking for ways to make teaching citizenship easy and fun for you and your students this year? Include engaging books with beautiful illustrations and informative stories to help your students understand the complexities of being a good citizen. Pair these books with the low prep Citizenship Social Studies Unit for fun hands-on activities your students will love. #thechocolateteacher #picturebooksforteachingcitizenship #citizenshipbooks #teachingcitizenshiptoelementarystudents

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