On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is a poignant tale of how a young teen deals with the guilt and grief over the death of his friend. This Newbery Medal-winning book is great to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

You can read author Marion Dane Bauer’s description of how she came up with this story based on real-life events from her childhood here to gain insight on the “behind the scenes” of the story.

Hopefully, your students won’t have any first or secondhand experience in dealing with a tragedy such as this. It can strike at any time. My teen daughter has had to deal with this during this past summer after the death of four of her close friends in a car accident. She doesn’t deal with guilt regarding the accident but has had to struggle with the why. How did a carefree summer night just like so many others change everything in an instant? How quickly it forces young people to face mortality and mature overnight.

On My Honor does a good job of portraying this experience in main character Joel.

From the Book Jacket:

Joel’s best friend, Tony, is a daredevil. It was Tony’s idea to make the long bike ride to the Starved Rock state park, and Tony’s idea to stop for a swim in the dangerous Vermillion River. So why does Joel feel so much guilt when tragedy strikes?

See what people are saying about the On My Honor Novel Study by The Teaching Bank!

Try a free sample of the novel study for On My Honor


Literature has such power to help us deal with events in our life that we can’t understand. It helps us realize that in our feelings we are not alone. This is a wonderful book to help students understand survivor’s guilt, how things can change in an instant, and how to deal with grief over someone we’ve loved and lost.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany On My Honor for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:

Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

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