How do you teach children about kindness?
Raise Kind Humans.
I read this phrase on a maternity shirt while pregnant with my second son.
Well duh, I thought with an eye roll. Which was quickly replaced by, Oh crap, as that massive responsibility set in. Now, fast forward a few years. And after a summer spent with my boys fighting over everything, it’s clear that teaching children kindness can be a never-ending task.
But there’s help! We don’t have to do it alone. Use this list of the 55 best books for kids about kindness to make this daunting task easier.
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55 Books to Teach Kids Kindness and Empathy
Kindness is a core value. We talk about it often, model it when we can, and give reminders endlessly. We want our children to have concern and awareness for others.
“Be kind at school today!”
“Help someone who looks like they need it!”
“Share with your brother!”
In fact, we know that acts of kindness boost feelings of confidence, positivity, and optimism. And this spreads to others. How do we continue to cultivate these values in our children?
Reading books about empathy and being kind is an easy way to start this conversation with your kids.
1. Have you Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud (Ages 3-6)
“All day long, everyone in the whole wide world walks around carrying an invisible bucket. You can’t see it, but it’s there.”
Read the first of more than a dozen books for all ages about “bucket filling.” Show kindness and respect to others in hopes of making them happier. And in turn, filling your own bucket.
This book will have you asking the question, Have you filled a bucket today?
2. Finding Kindness by Deborah Underwood (Ages 4-8)
*Best Books Ages 3-5
Kindness can be celebrated in many ways throughout a community. It’s not always big, you just have to be looking for it! Read this cute book here.
3. The Kindness Book by Todd Parr (Ages 4-8)
*New York Times Bestselling author
In this colorful picture book, we are reminded of what kindness looks like in ordinary life. The Kindnes Book will inspire kids to be kind to others AND to be kind to themselves when they make mistakes.
4. Try a Little Kindness by Henry Cole (Ages 3-5)
Young kids will relish in this funny picture book (told by cartoon animal characters) of how to be kind. They’ll also enjoy spotting the characters that are not doing the best job. It’s fun to be kind!
5. Kindness Makes Me Stronger by Elizabeth Cole (Ages 3-10)
*World of Kids Emotions Series
Nick meets some funny animals while staying on his grandparent’s farm. But these animals don’t always make good choices! Will Nick be able to teach his new friends about kindness and compassion?
In this colorful picture book, rhyming text and bright illustrations present kindness in a kid-friendly manner.
6. What Does It Mean to be Kind? by Rana DiOrio (Ages 4-8)
A young girl finds the courage to be kind to a new student at school. This one act of kindness starts a chain that impacts everyone in a positive way.
7. Can I Join Your Club? by John Kelly (Ages 2-6)
When duck wants to make new friends, he decides to join a club. But that becomes challenging when all the clubs have rules. Rules that keep duck out.
So duck decides to start his own club! Read here to see what happens with some kindness and acceptance.
8. Scribble Stones by Diane Alber (Ages 3-7)
*Unique & Heartwarming
An ordinary gray stone decides he is destined to be more than a paperweight. He meets colorful scribble and scrabble and becomes anything but ordinary. In fact, he spreads joy and gives readers an idea of how they can spread joy and kindness also.
9. The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell (Ages 3-6)
*NYT Best Seller & Teachers’ Pick
Actress and mom, Kristen Bell wrote this book to help kids understand that being totally you is what makes you so special. And that’s what it means to be a Purple Person- kind, funny, and yourself.
10. One Drop of Kindness by Jeff Kubiak (Ages 5-10)
Meet Gus, a one-time orphan that struggles with kindness because of his past life experiences. Luckily, Gus’s town holds a secret that once discovered, will spread kindness through Gus and his entire town.
11. Kindness is my Superpower by Alicia Ortego (Ages 3-6)
*#1 Best Seller
In this story, Superhero Lucas learns that we all make mistakes, and sometimes you need to say sorry. This is a book about empathy, kindness, and compassion that conveys an impactful message to readers.
12. Jake the Growling Dog by Samantha Shannon (Ages 2-8)
*One of the best fiction books for empathy
Jake is a kind and sweet dog, but he is different than the other forest critters. Jake’s story will encourage empathy as lonely Jake finds a friend.
13. Waffles the Chicken in the Kitchen by Ken and Ashley Matthews (Ages 3-7)
Waffles the Chicken makes a delicious sandwich….but chickens don’t eat sandwiches. Who is the sandwich for?
Follow this funny series as Waffles the Chicken shows readers what happens with a simple act of kindness.
14. The Berenstain Bears No Girls Allowed by Stan & Jan Berenstain (Ages 3-7)
*Classic Kindness Books For Kids
Brother Bear and his friends are tired of Sister Bear following him around, beating them at games, races, and even marbles. They decide to make a club-a No Girls Allowed club.
That is until Sister Bear and her friends come up with a club of their own and the bear cubs remember that including everyone is more fun. Read this book here.
15. The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World by Maria Dismondy (Ages 5-7)
*A great book on random acts of kindness
This book is about a brother and sister who don’t always get along. But how do jelly donuts and kindness go together? Read The Jelly Donut Difference to find out!
16. I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoet (Ages 3-7)
*An amazing back to school read!
This wonderful book tells a story using only pictures. It’s about a girl who takes a stand against bullying. She inspires her entire community through one simple act of kindness.
17. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller (Ages 3-6)
This great book gives kids real life examples of all the different ways to show kindness. Children see that kindness isn’t always easy, but it always makes a difference.
18. Kindness Snippet Jar by Diane Alber (Ages 3-7)
*A great book for families!
Little Snippet is determined to live in a kindness jar, but he can’t find the right words to spread kindness. Read the story, then make your own kindness snippet jar with the directions in the back of the book.
19. Share a Little Kindness by Colleen Brunetti (Ages 0-11)
*Be brave, bold, & kind
Written in rhyme, Share a Little Kindness teaches children of all ages important life lessons.
Best Picture Books on Compassion For Kids
Pro Tip: Experienced school psychologist, Dr. Jamie Donnelly, recommends discussing specific situations and helping kids relate to the characters to build empathy.
20. Horton Hears A Who! by Dr. Suess (Ages 2-10)
From the beloved author, Dr. Suess, comes a story of an elephant that uses his compassion to save the day. This is a great book choice about caring for others.
21. The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates (Ages 3-7)
*The perfect book to start important discussions with your children
The Big Umbrella features a sweet metaphor using an umbrella to show inclusion and kindness. There is always room for everyone under this umbrella.
22. Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion by Maya van der Meer (Ages 4-8)
*Spirituality & Practice “Best Books of 2021″ Award Winner
Here you’ll find an atypical princess with a big heart and helpful spirit. Join her on an adventure to discover compassion and the true meaning of love.
Children will enjoy the beautiful illustrations and parents will love the meaningful message.
23. I am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde (Ages 3-8)
I Am Love describes love as showing kindness, compassion, and gratitude as well as taking care of our minds and bodies. Included are simple yoga poses and a guided meditation.
24. Listening with My Heart by Gabi Garcia (Ages 4-7)
*A great book to teach self-compassion!
Esperanza finds a rock in the shape of a heart that reminds her to spread love to others. But after a challenging experience, will she remember to show love to herself?
25. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (Ages 7-10)
*Newberry Honor Book
Wanda wears the same blue dress to school every day. But she tells her classmates she has one hundred dresses in her closet at home. Another girl in the class, Peggy, starts to make fun of Wanda. Will anyone stand up for her?
This is a wonderful book to teach kindness, discuss bullying, and how to stand up for someone else.
*These telephone game phrases for kids are another great way to show kids how rumors can get twisted.
Kids Books About Kindness and Friendship
These books for kids about kindness go beyond compassion and explore what it means to be a good friend.
26. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Ages 2-6)
*International best-seller and modern classic
A beautiful but lonely rainbow fish decides to share his shimmering scales with new friends. He learns that giving can make you happier.
See how these watercolor illustrations and shiny foil scales quickly draw readers into the award-winning book.
27. Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson: (Kindness Books For Kids Ages 2-4)
When bear starts feeling sick his friends jump in to help him feel better. They succeed, but then uh oh, they start to feel sick too…
Read how bear then cares for his friends in this beloved series.
28. Elephant and Piggie: My New Friend Is So Fun! by Mo Willems (Ages 3-6)
Gerald and Piggie are different, but they are best friends. When Piggie finds a new friend, how will Gerald feel? Mo Willems knows exactly how to get kids to love books and this story is no exception!
29. Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners by Laurie Keller (Ages 3-7)
An amusing way to learn the Golden Rule, kids will enjoy reading about Mr. Rabbit and the problem he has with his new neighbors….they are Otters! Will they be able to become friends?
30. We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio (Ages 3-8)
By the author of the book Wonder, younger readers are invited to read the story about Auggie Pullman and what it’s like to live in his world.
32. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry (Ages 4-7)
Bestselling BFFs, Stick and Stone rescue each other from tough situations and teach us the true meaning of friendship. With kindness and compassion, Stick and Stone make this book “a perfect ten.”
33. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev (Ages 4-8)
*Teaches the true meaning of friendship
On their way home, they encounter a girl with a pet skunk and decide they can make a special club of their own.
30. Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! by Bethanie Murguia (Ages 5-6)
When three friends can’t agree on what to play on a rainy day, it looks like no one will be happy. Until they decide to jump in puddles together! They find that having fun doesn’t have to be so complicated.
34. Truman by Jean Reidy (Ages 4-8)
Truman the tortoise lives with Sarah in the city. One day, Sarah put on her backpack and gets on the number 11 bus. That’s when Truman gets worried about his friend and decides to bravely take on an adventure of his own.
Follow this heartwarming tale of devotion and friendship.
35. Digger the Dinosaur and the Wrong Song by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (Ages 4-8)
*Perfect for beginning readers
In this I Can Read story, Digger is working to write a song for his friend Stego’s upcoming birthday. Will he be able to get the song just right in time for the surprise party?
36. Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf by Sam Wedelich (Ages 4-6)
Read as Chicken Little meets the Big Bad Wolf. But Chicken Little is not afraid of a wolf. After all, is the Wolf really Big and Bad? Sometimes looks can be deceiving, and even wolves can be misunderstood and need a friend!
See Chicken Little here >>
37. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Ages 5-8)
Brian is the quiet and seemingly invisible boy in class. But one day, there is a new boy in class. Brian becomes his first friend and not so invisible anymore.
Enjoy the way this story teaches children how small acts of kindness can help others feel valued.
38. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (Ages 5-9)
*#1 Best Seller
Unhei just moved from Korea and nobody can pronounce her name. So, she decides to pick an American name from a jar to use when she starts school. Fortunately, a kind new friend will help Unhei realize that being herself is the best.
39. Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt (Ages 5-10)
*Multiple award winning book
Discover this heartwarming story of a friendship between Sofia and Maddi. When Sofia finds out that Maddi’s family doesn’t have enough food in their fridge, Sofia finds a way to help her best friend.
Maddi’s Fridge introduces important themes are introduced about poverty and childhood hunger, friendship, and keeping secrets.
40. Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks (Ages 8-11)
*Great for older readers
Two fifth-grade boys have nothing in common. But they quickly discover a common enemy, a big bully in their class.
Read Save Me a Seat to discover valuable lessons like empathy and true kindness.
41. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson (Ages 5-9)
*The perfect book for a family read-aloud!
Enemy Pie will teach kids how to make new friends and resolve conflict. After all, this is one foolproof way to get rid of enemies….making enemy pie!
*For more on why reading is so important, check out these shocking reading statistics.
Best Kindness Books for Kindergarten
Starting Kindergarten is an exciting time for parents and kids alike. So, send your Kindergartener to school with the skills needed to show and share kindness.
42. Kindergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day by Vera Ahiyya
Kids who are nervous about going to Kindergarten will feel more confident after reading about Leo’s story.
Leo starts the first day of Kindergarten unsure of how to show kindness in school. But by the end of the day, his classmates have shown him that he knows exactly what to do.
43. Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
After the school bell rings, this Kindergarten class is busy adding up acts of kindness. KINDNESS IS COOL!
44. How to Be Kind in Kindergarten by D.J. Steinberg
*A must-read for every boy and girl!
Journey through each page of this book with a short poem that gives examples of how to be your kindest and best Kindergarten self.
45. ABC’s of Kindness by Samantha Berger
*Great book about being kind for preschool too!
Explore the ABC’s of empathy and inclusion through this alphabet book. Encourage your kids to grow into their caring and confident selves! The simple messages and color illustrations draw students in quickly.
46. We Put the Kind in Kindergarten! by Casey Stewart
Another great book on KINDergarten KINDness!
Explore the power impact random acts of kindness can make in the kindergarten classroom and beyond. See it here.
47. The Queen of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes
*Best Seller & a perfect companion to The King of Kindergarten.
Adventure with MJ as she starts Kindergarten wearing a tiara to remind her of her power to brighten up the day for others. Build confidence in your future Kindergarten kiddo with these two lovable stories.
48. Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day by Carmen Agra Deedy
*Good for conflict resolution!
Rita and Ralph are best friends…that is until they get really mad at one another over a game.
Will they be able to apologize and forgive one another? This is a great read aloud about conflict resolution and building healthy friendships for young kids.
49. How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
*Geared toward preschool and kindergarten
This bestselling series offers up something for everyone. Laugh along with these silly dinosaurs as they figure out how to make friends and stay friends.
Best Chapter Books About Kindness For Middle School
It can be much trickier to teach older kids about kindness. Ultimately, middle school kids want to figure it out for themselves. So, sneak some positive lessons in with these beloved book choices.
50. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Ages 9-11)
#1 New York Times Bestseller
Meet Auggie. An ordinary boy with an unusual face. His personality inspires an entire community to discuss what kindness, empathy, and compassion mean in practice.
51. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Ages 10+)
*Newberry Honor Book & NTY Best Seller
Annabelle is a kind girl that lives in a small town. One day, a cruel bully joins her class and starts picking on a reclusive World War I veteran. Annabelle must find the courage to take a stand.
52. Any Small Goodness by Tony Johnston
“One cause, one people, one taco.”
You’ll love this story of a Mexican-American family living in a generous community in L.A. It’s a novel filled with hope, warmth, and how acts of kindness make all the difference.
53. Crash by Jerry Spinelli
*Newberry medalist author Jerry Spinelli
This book is different. And readers won’t be able to put it down!
Crash Coogan is a seventh-grader who has been crashing since he received his first football helmet. In a rarely told perspective, discover what life is like as a bully. Is Crash more than a stereotype?
54. Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Trevor has a simple idea.
Do a good deed for three people and ask them to “pay it forward.” This simple idea spreads beyond what he expected. And big things start to happen in Trevor’s community and beyond.
An uplifting middle school pick for empathy and compassion and the “pay it forward” concept.
55. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
*Newberry Honor-winning book
Armand lives a simple life on the streets of Paris. Until the day before Christmas, when he finds three cold and hungry children under his bridge. Armand sets out to take care of these children and find them a home.
Middle schoolers will love this fast read with a heartwarming story.
*Need a little reading motivation?
Don’t miss these reading challenge ideas for kids and adults!
Additional Resources For Kindness & Compassion
Beyond kids books that teach kindness, check out these other resources to help you.
Social Skills Activities for Kids by Natasha Daniels
See it here >>
Empathy for Kids: 30 Fun Activities to Foster Emotional Awareness, Compassion, and Kindness by Nicole Tolentino
365 Days of Kindness for Kids by Broadstreet Publishing Group LLC
To Consider With Kindness Books For Kids
Of course, we want to raise kind humans. And books are a perfect way to open the door to conversations about kindness, empathy, compassion, and friendship.
So, what kids kindness books will you reach for first? And am I missing any? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!
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