27 Picture Books about Forgiveness and Letting Go

Picture Books about Forgiveness and Letting Go

Discover picture books about forgiveness that promote understanding and tolerance in your classroom. They include characters learning to forgive, asking for forgiveness, letting go of grudges and seeing forgiveness as a positive action.

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Using Books on Forgiveness with Children

Forgiveness is challenging for children, of course, it is difficult for many adults too! Learning to forgive and asking for forgiveness helps children form healthy relationships with family, friends and themselves. 

The flip side of forgiveness is the need to apologise and admit negative actions. This is also a tough situation for children who may want forgiveness but are unable or unwilling to apologise for negative actions.

Children need to see forgiveness in action to understand its power. That’s where these picture books about forgiveness come in. They show characters having to forgive others and those who find it difficult to follow through on such actions. They are also excellent discussion starters on how to negotiate challenging situations.

Key Benefits of Forgiveness

Using these books on forgiveness can help your students understand the benefits of letting go of grudges and resentment. The books illustrate that forgiveness brings:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Improved self-esteem


In this diverse collection of books on forgiveness, you will meet characters who:

  • Make a choice to forgive
  • Forgive with no expectation
  • Understand the benefits of forgiveness
  • See a situation from another person’s perspective
  • Find it challenging to forgive, but recognise its power
  • Go through a range of emotions on their journey of forgiveness
  • Have the courage to forgive despite the hurtful actions of others.

Forgiveness Discussion Starters

  • What is forgiveness?
  • Why do we forgive?
  • In what way did [character] forgive [character]?
  • Why did [character] find it difficult to forgive?
  • When [character] forgave [character] were they condoning their behaviour/actions?
  • Why was it important that [character] showed forgiveness?
  • How did [character] feel after forgiving [character]?
  • How did [character] feel when they wanted to be forgiven?
  • What are the benefits of forgiving?

Picture Books About Forgiveness

Art & Max by David Wiesner

Art, a seasoned painter, and Max, a novice, approach art-making differently. When Max literally paints Art, chaos erupts. Art turns into a line drawing, and it’s up to Max to restore him.

Art & Max, a wordless book, explores the creative process, individuality, enthusiasm, forgiveness, creative problem-solving and openness to new ideas.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Rubina’s mother insists she takes her younger sister, Sana, to a birthday party. Her sister’s behaviour embarrasses her, especially when Sana steals a big red lollipop, Rubina’s party favour.

Big Red Lollipop explores sharing, fairness, and forgiveness, how to resolve conflicts and how to get along, even when things don’t seem fair.

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi

Two boys who each draw their own lines accidentally bump into each other. They connect their lines and discover the magic of their union until a misstep causes their lines to cross, leading to a conflict.

Draw the Line, a wordless picture book, promotes discussions on conflict resolution, friendship, cooperation, compromise and creativity.

Emmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois

Emmett and Caleb are as close as can be, yet their different personalities lead to misunderstandings. They always find a way back to each other, valuing their friendship over their differences.
Emmett and Caleb illustrate that friendships might face ups and downs, but forgiveness, understanding, and communication are key to maintaining them.

The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson

For as long as anyone can remember, two families have been enemies. They hate each other and seek out revenge until a young girl decides to try something different to bring the families back together.

The Forgiveness Garden is a parable about forgiveness, reconciliation, hope, and peacemaking.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

As a boy grows, a tree generously fulfils his needs at every stage of life, reminding us of the profound love and selflessness that nature embodies. Only in his later years does the boy realise the depth of the tree’s generosity.
The Giving Tree sparks discussions on appreciation, selfishness, forgiveness, generosity, responsible decision-making and personification.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! by Rob Biddulph

Fred the Bear is training for the Best Bear in the Woods competition. When Boris the Bear steals Fred’s roar, his friends rally around. He realises it is best to forgive Boris, who soon sees the errors of his ways.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! promotes discussions on sportsmanship, forgiveness, integrity, honesty, and respect.

Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! by Mem Fox

Harriet finds herself in mischief and testing her mother’s patience. Her actions led her usually calm mother to lose her temper. Both realise that even when they do things they wish they hadn’t, their love for each other remains strong.
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! explores patience, understanding, the dynamics of a mother-child relationship, and unconditional love.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson

Hiawatha, chief of the Onondaga, overcame many challenges to unite the five Iroquois nations. Translating messages of forgiveness, unity, and peace, he forgives those that killed his family.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker explores peace and unity in resolving conflicts, historical events and their relevance today, and a deeper understanding of indigenous cultures.

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack

After being scolded for lying, Libby vows only to speak the honest-to-goodness truth. Her unfiltered honesty starts to upset her friends and family, helping her understand there’s a right time and way to tell the truth.
The Honest-to-Goodness Truth explores being truthful and considerate of others’ feelings and that honesty must be balanced with tact and kindness.

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English

Best friends Kishi and Renée are waiting for each other to apologise. They sit on their front porches, but before long, they forget their fight and join in the fun.

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue inspires discussions on conflict resolution, forgiveness, and positive friendships. Friendship’s ups and downs underline that bonds can endure even after a quarrel.

How to Apologize by David LaRochelle

Saying sorry isn’t always easy. This book shows different ways to apologize and shows how it is important for the person who receives the apology and the one giving it.
Read How to Apologize explores sincerity, self-reflection, taking responsibility for our actions, forgiveness, and conflict resolution.

I Love My New Toy! by Mo Willems

Piggie gets a new toy and can’t wait to share it with her friend Gerald. When Gerald accidentally breaks the toy, it creates tension. With help, they realize their friendship is more important than any toy.

I Love My New Toy! explores understanding, forgiveness, conflict resolution and valuing relationships over material things.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

Sid blames his mischief on his imaginary friend, Kevin. However, when Sid finds himself in Kevin’s world, he realises the importance of honesty and taking responsibility for his actions.

Kevin promotes discussions on the consequences of not telling the truth and the significance of owning up to one’s actions.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly adores her school, teacher, and purple plastic purse. Her enthusiasm for her purse leads her on an unexpected journey of self-discovery, teaching her important lessons about self-management, forgiveness, integrity, controlling impulses, honesty, making amends, and learning from our actions.

The Longest Storm by Dan Yaccarino

A family can’t go outside when a strange storm suddenly appears. There is nothing to do, and they all get on each other’s nerves. The family’s emotions rise as the storm hangs around, but they come together to face the future.

The Longest Storm promotes discussions on the COVID pandemic, forgiveness, patience, self-management, and optimism.

The Lumberjack’s Beard by Duncan Beedie

Jim chops down trees in the forest without considering the repercussions. His actions make many animals homeless, so Jim allows them to reside in his huge beard. He replants the trees and waits for them to grow so the animals can return to their natural habitats.
The Lumberjack’s Beard explores environmental conservation, cause and effect, problem-solving, and how people can rectify mistakes.

Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger

Martha has one significant flaw: she refuses to say “I’m sorry” when she behaves badly. As she realizes that people are less willing to interact with her, Martha learns the importance of apologizing.

Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry! explores expressing remorse, personal accountability, consequences of one’s actions, resolving conflicts and treating others respectfully.

Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey by Danny Parker

During a train journey, two friends, Molly and Mae, experience the ups and downs of friendship, from laughter to disagreements and finally to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey explores conflict resolution, personal growth, forgiveness and understanding in maintaining healthy relationships.

No David! by David Shannon

No, David! features a young boy named David who’s always breaking the rules – flooding the bath, jumping on beds, smashing vases – you name it. But, amidst all the chaos, he learns the importance of responsible decision-making, manners, the power of apology and the value of forgiveness.

Once There Was a Boy by Dub Leffler

An aboriginal boy lives alone on an island until a girl arrives and disrupts his life. She upsets the boy when she breaks his trust. The girl finds a way to make amends and the boy forgives her.

Once There Was a Boy explores loneliness, the need for companionship, sharing, temptation, broken trust, and the impact of forgiveness.

The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones

Badger believes the only way to be truly great is to be exactly like him. But, as the animal friends soon discover, their unique traits make them special and wonderful.

The Only Way is Badger encourages discussions on individuality, respect for others’ uniqueness, empathy and understanding towards others’ feelings, harmony, learning from mistakes and personal growth.

A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno

Mako is thrilled when she gets a new pair of Geta, traditional Japanese shoes, until she cracks them while playing outside. She navigates through lessons of honesty and responsible decision-making.
A Pair of Red Clogs explores honesty, forgiveness, moving past mistakes and facing the consequences of our decisions.