Character Education


Key Stage 3 Parent Resources

The activities below are aimed at children aged 11 to 14 years and are arranged according to which virtue or virtues they explore. In addition, a list of reading resources for each virtue is provided.

Compassion means exhibiting care and concern for each other and gratitude reflects feeling and expressing thanks for kindnesses shown to you. Below is a collection of activities and books that reflect compassion and/or kindness.

A Library of Lemons

The following resources are based on Jo Cotterill’s A Library of Lemons. The book shows how important compassion is, especially in difficult circumstances. Parents/guardians and children can reflect on kindness and resilience together using the structured questions tailored to the book’s content. They can also plan and write a letter together using the letter template.


The book ‘LOVE’ by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long, beautifully shows how love and compassion may happen unexpectedly and vary depending on context. Parents/guardians can help children compose their own poem to reflect love, using the poetry planner. To help with this, we have written some questions on LOVE to help parents/guardians and children to reflect on some of the themes raised by the book. For younger children we have written an acrostic poem as an example they can use for inspiration. For older children, we encourage them to write their own free verse. Both groups can use our bordered paper to add a little decoration to their poems.

Goodnight Mr Tom

Goodnight Mr Tom is a wonderful book that is sure to bring a tear to the eye. Evacuated during World War Two, nervous and neglected Willie (William) is forced upon Tom Oakley, a grumpy widower with a frosty exterior. Through a series of heart-warming events, Tom and Willie form a strong bond, with Willie flourishing under the care and compassion of Tom, who in turn softens – much to the surprise of others in the community. When Willie is forced to return to war-torn London and finds himself in trouble, Tom is his saviour, ‘kidnapping’ Willie and returning him to the safety of the countryside. Compassion and Gratitude are key themes throughout the book which are demonstrated by many characters in many ways, not least by Tom who, as well as showing compassion for Willie, is undoubtedly grateful to the boy for the happiness he brings him. This book would be a perfect read for older primary school children/younger secondary pupils, and is especially relevant for those learning about life during World War Two.

The Enchanted Horse

The Enchanted Horse, by Magdalen Nabb, is a novel about a young girl called Irina, who learns the importance of kindness and care by looking after her ‘toy’ horse. Irina, lonely herself, recognizes the loneliness of the horse, when she sees it in the window of a shop. Irina learns all about friendship and compassion as she embarks on a magical journey with this very special horse.  

Courage means having the strength and will to know what you should do even though you may be afraid. Below is a collection of books that contain characters that have shown courage as well as stories which acknowledge how difficult it can be to show courage when something scares or frightens you.


Matilda is a wonderful and well-known story about a young, gifted girl who is belittled and underappreciated by her family. When she goes to school and, along with the other children, faces the brute of a head teacher, Miss Trunchbull, she refuses to give in and shows courage by standing up to both her and her family. With the care and support of Miss Honey, Matilda’s loving teacher, she flourishes. Matilda hatches a plan to save her classmates from Miss Trunchbull’s punishments. The story shows that even though Matilda is small, she can make a difference by being courageous and using her special gifts along the way.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away

Written by the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, this imaginative book follows a young boy who decides to run away from his problems. One morning, Noah decides to run away from home to escape the impending grief of losing a terminally ill family member. He runs deep into a forest where he finds a toyshop full of toys, magic and an enigmatic toymaker. The toymaker shares the story of his life including his decision to run away from his father and the consequences that he faced. The wisdom learned from the toymaker helps Noah to face up to his own decisions and decide what to do next. This story covers themes of grief and loss, loyalty and love. 


Wonder is an emotive story which takes the reader on a journey through school and the issues faced by somebody who is a bit different. Auggie is a ten-year-old who wants to be like anyone his age and make friends. However, because of the facial abnormality he was born with, this isn’t so easy for him. Auggie gets stared at wherever he goes and struggles to make friends. When he has to go to school for the first time, he faces lots of problems with other children and just wants to hide away. He has to show courage in everyday situations to overcome his anxiety and fear, and this provides the opportunity to talk about courage being more than just a courageous or brave act.  This touching story is highly recommended.


Beowulf follows the epic quest of a brave warrior who seeks to defeat Grendel and other terrifying monsters that confront him. In order to do this and overcome the fear that would grip other warriors, Beowulf shows strength and courage to single-handedly save the land. Readers will be engaged by this dramatic re-telling of the battles of Beowulf and, as well as thinking about how courage is shown throughout the story, can consider why Beowulf chose to put himself at risk to save others.

Generosity is the virtue of being kind and generous. Below is a collection of books that contain characters that have shown generosity in different contexts.

Mr Stink

In his appealing, comedic style, David Walliams tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Chloe, an unhappy school girl, and a local homeless man who refers to himself as ‘Mr Stink.’ Their friendship begins through an act of generosity from Chloe and, throughout the story, she defies her mother to help her new friend. This book will have children laughing out loud but has a challenging message around generosity, prejudice and friendship at its core.

Honesty means being truthful and sincere to those around you as well as to yourself. Below is a collection of books that reflect honesty in different contexts and situations.

Emil and the Detectives

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner is a tale of adventure and personal integrity. Emil is a good boy, though not perfect. After doing something he knows to be wrong in his home town, he sets off for Berlin. While on the train he is robbed of his holiday money; money his mother worked very hard to put aside for him. What follows is a tale of adventure and determination as Emil joins a band of ‘detectives’ in order to retrieve his money. This book is an excellent opportunity to discuss themes of honesty (should Emil have lied to his relatives?) and virtue more broadly (Emil is good, but not perfect).