Children’s Books About Kindness and Thoughtfulness

Children’s Books About Kindness and Thoughtfulness

Kindness is a simple but powerful action for the giver and receiver, but it isn’t always easy for children. These children’s books about kindness promote compassion, sharing and social awareness.

Children’s Books About Kindness and Thoughtfulness

Why Read Children’s Books About Kindness?

Kindness is a simple, but powerful action. If we want children to show unprompted kindness, adults need to model kindness for them to learn from.

Reading kindness picture books is a way to do this. They illustrate different acts of kindness, in different situations, and the positive consequences.

Children’s books about kindness promote other positive actions, including:

Using Kindness Picture Books in the Classroom

Acts of kindness will help children interact and engage with the world around them in compassionate and empathetic ways.

Help your students imagine how others feel during intolerant or difficult situations. The suggested books promote caring, thoughtful and respectful behaviour. They are great discussion starters on what it means to be kind.

You can inspire acts of kindness by sharing stories of generosity, sharing, and kindness. These kindness picture books show characters in different situations where they show kindness or are on the receiving end of kind acts.

Questions to Use With Children’s Books about Kindness

  • What does it mean for you to be kind?
  • How do you feel when someone is kind to you?
  • How do you feel when someone is unkind?
  • In what ways are you kind?
  • What could you do to be kinder in the future?
  • How can you make a new student feel welcome?
  • What did it mean to [character] to be included/not included?
  • What kind words did the characters use?
  • How was [character] helpful to others in the book?
  • What acts of kindness did the characters show?
  • What were the consequences of the kind actions in the book?
  • What were the consequences of unkind actions in the book?
  • Why was [character] kind to someone they didn’t know?
  • Why was [character] unkind to their friends/family?
  • What did it take for [character] to realise they were being unkind?

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Suggested Children’s Books About Kindness

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

A true story of kindness and compassion. After the devastating attacks on 9/11, a Maasai village in Kenya wanted to express their sympathy to a grieving America. They presented a gift of 14 cows, a symbol of life to the Maasai.

AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson

A boy overcomes his fears to get to know and make friends with a lonely alligator. The townsfolk are not so accepting and the mayor insists it is driven out of town. Once the community sees the kind and helpful side of the alligator they help it hide from the mayor.

Use to discuss social justice, empathy, kindness, loneliness, acceptance and inferring.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

Send a message to your students that everyone is welcome, no matter their race, religion, gender, culture or background.

Use on the first day of school to discuss inclusion, kindness, empathyacceptance and community.

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

Tanisha's classmate wants to help her feel better when she spills grape juice down her new dress. But what does it actually mean to be kind? Be Kind explores the different actions, big and small, that can make a difference, particularly to a friend.

Reinforces themes of empathy, relationship skills, thoughtfulness and kindness.

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates

A big umbrella standing by the door is something special. It is so big that when it rains anyone can stand underneath it and there will always be room for more.

This book reinforces themes of acceptance, kindness, tolerance and sharing.

Bloom by Anne Booth

A jealous and angry man doesn’t understand why his flowers won’t bloom. A young girl teaches him the importance of his words and how he says them.

Use to discuss kindness, the impact of words, and jealousy.

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy

A Boy Like You affirms positive character traits for boys to strive for. It shows masculinity is not about hiding emotions, physical strength and feats of daring, but rather fair play, kindness, understanding, self-management and self-awareness.

A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

Rosa, her mother and grandmother are devastated when their home is destroyed by fire. The community helps them by donating items they will need.

Promotes community, generosity, responsible decision-making and perseverance.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day You Begin considers the difficulty of entering a room where you don’t know anyone. In these situations, we are “an only” until we share our personal stories. Woodson reminds us that we are all outsiders and it takes courage to be ourselves.

Read to promote discussions on empathy, identity, growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness and self-esteem.

A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

Mini finds a lost dog who is wearing yellow boots. She wants to keep the dog but knows she must find the dog’s owners. She sadly returns the dog and adopts her own dog.

Use to discuss empathy, kindness, and adoption.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Chloe and her friends have been excluding the new girl Maya. When her teacher does a lesson on kindness Chloe reflects on her behaviour and regrets “each kindness I had never shown.”

Promotes relationship skills, inclusion, kindness and reflection.

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

A girl wants to buy a new bike but doesn't have enough money. She helps her elderly neighbour by doing yard work and developing a new friendship. When she has enough money she rushes to the shop to buy the bike, but to her dismay, it has gone.

This wordless book shows how the girl's hard work and perseverance are rewarded.

The Great Realisation by Tomos Roberts

Tomos Roberts’ poem is in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It celebrates acts of kindness, applauding key workers for their heroic endeavours and how people everywhere coped with adapting to a new way of life.

Promotes discussions on resilience, adaptability, hope and facing challenges.

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose

Before a boy squishes a tiny ant, the little insect speaks up. They begin a debate on why the boy shouldn’t kill the ant. With an open ending, the reader gets to decide what the boy should do.

Promotes persuasion, perspectives and bullying.

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët

Witness how an act of kindness, born from feeling helpless about how others are treated, changes a community for the better.

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Brian struggles to make himself stand out. When he befriends a new student from Korea, she helps him grow in confidence and feel less invisible.

Promotes themes of loneliness, kindness and relationship skills.

Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup

Kindness Grows illustrates the consequences of our actions, positive and negative. Using a visual representation of a tree, one side of the page shows it flourishing through kindness. The other side shows how angry and negative behaviour creates unhappiness and separations. The book ends with the children on both sides coming together through an act of kindness.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

A grumpy CJ and his nana ride a city bus full of wonderful characters. He wonders aloud why he doesn’t have the things his friends do and why they have to volunteer at the soup kitchen every week. His nana’s straightforward and positive responses help CJ see and appreciate what he has and what he can give.

Read to promote discussions on community, poverty, volunteering, kindness, and optimism.

Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen

Translated from Dutch. Little Wise Wolf has learned many things from the books he loves reading. But he learns a tough lesson when he finds he is unprepared for a long journey to help the sick king.

Lotus and Feather by Ji-li Jiang

Lonely Lotus cares for Feather, a crane injured by a bullet. They grow closer and the crane follows Lotus everywhere. One day, the little girl knew she had to let Feather migrate with the other cranes.

Promotes discussions on empathy, kindness, loneliness and friendship.

A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang

Paj Ntaub, a Hmong girl, moves across the street from an elderly couple, Ruth and Bob. As the seasons pass, Ruth dies. The young girl wants to help Bob so she draws a map into the world for Bob in his driveway. It shows him he can find kindness and support at Paj Ntaub's home.

Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk

Mela explores along the riverbank near her village in Thailand, but she soon gets lost in the jungle. A crocodile, a leopard, and three monkeys refuse to help. She then meets a helpful elephant who teaches her “kindness needs no reward for it brings happiness and warmth to the heart.”

Promotes kindness, compassion and helping someone expecting nothing in return.

The Many Colors of Harpreet Sing by Supriya Kelkar

Harpreet Singh expresses himself with colours, particularly through his patka, Sikh headwear. When he moves from California to a town with snow, Harpreet has trouble settling in. He only wears white so he can feel invisible. When he finds his first new friend, the colour returns.

Use to promote acceptance, kindness, courage and coping in new situations.

Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson

Ordinary Mary starts a chain reaction when she picks some blueberries for her neighbour. This caring and compassionate act multiples around the world.

The Paper Crane by Molly Bang

A restaurant is on the verge of ruin because of the construction of a new road outside. Despite their poverty, the restaurant owner gives a free meal to an old man. In return, he gives them a paper crane which attracts new customers and gives the family hope.

Read this folktale to discuss kindness, hope, poverty, and generosity.

Pass It On by Sophy Henn

The simple and uplifting message of Pass It On is to spread happiness and wonder to others and encourages the reader to pass their own joy to others.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

Taylor struggles to cope with his emotions when something sad happens. The animals all try to help him in different ways but their help is not quite right for Taylor. It is only when the rabbit arrives and just listens that Taylor finds the best way to cope. Promotes compassion and empathy.

Rain! by Linda Ashman

A grumpy man and enthusiastic boy wake up to rain with very different attitudes. They cross paths at a cafe where an act of kindness from the boy helps brighten the man’s day.

Promotes optimism, kindness, perspectives, and a positive attitude.

Share Your Rainbow: 18 Artists Draw Their Hope for the Future by R J Palacio

R. J. Palacio introduces a book inspired by the rainbows seen in windows across the world during the global pandemic. 18 illustrators imagine what these rainbows represent, including kindness, hope, and making and keeping connections. Look out for hidden rainbows on each spread.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

Zookeeper, Amos McGee, always found time to visit his good friends in unique and compassionate ways. One day, Amos wakes up with a cold and can’t make it to work. His friends, the tortoise, penguin and owl, return his kindness by visiting him.

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson

A girl picks colourful flowers poking up through the cracks in the pavement. She places her flowers on a dead sparrow, a sleeping man and into a dog’s collar. At home, she places flowers in her mother’s hair and a few on her brother’s head.

This wordless book promotes kindness, generosity, making a difference and inference.

Song of the Old City by Anna Pellicioli

Told in the second person, a young girl explores the city of Istanbul. She meets a fisherman, a simit seller, a ferry captain, a man with wobbly legs, an accordion player, street sellers, a juice man, a kitten, and a group of giggling women. She receives gifts along the way, but she passes them on to people in need.

Use to promote discussions on kindness and generosity.

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry

Stick and Stone become best friends when Stone is rescued by Stick. What will happen when the situation is reversed?

Promotes themes of bullying, kindness, loneliness, overcoming adversity and relationship skills.

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev

A local Pet Club won't allow a young boy to join with his pet elephant. Together, they help the members of the club understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends.

The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

A tired stranger arrives in a new place with its suitcase. It is met with suspicion and questions from the local animals. When it falls asleep, the animals break open the suitcase to find a broken teacup and an old photograph. The stranger wakes from a dream about finding safety to find the animals have fixed the teacup and recreated its home from the photograph.

Use in the classroom to discuss immigration, kindness, empathy, trust, asking questions, and inference.

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Omu shares her delicious stew with everyone in the neighbourhood. They follow the amazing smell for a portion of Omu’s meal. Soon the pot is empty and her generosity means she has no stew left for herself. But the community show their gratitude by sharing their food with her.

Read to discuss community, kindness, gratitude, and generosity.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Jeremy is mortified when his old shoes fall apart and the school counsellor provides an unstylish replacement pair. He successfully searches a second-hand shop for a pair of ‘those shoes’, but they are too small. After some reflection, he passes the sneakers to a young child who Jeremy realises needs them more than him.

Read to promote discussions on peer pressure, compassion, empathy, generosity, kindness, sharing, and poverty.

We’re All Wonders by R J Palacio

Auggie shares how he likes to do ordinary things, but he just doesn’t look ordinary. He wants to believe someone will accept him for who he is.

Promotes self-esteem, identity, friendship and open-mindedness.

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack

When a family loses everything in a fire, the community come together to help. James wonders how he can contribute as he doesn’t think he has anything worth giving. He makes the daughter, Sarah, a book all about her. She is so delighted with this precious gift she presses it to her heart.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

You Hold Me Up illustrates the love and respect between intergeneration First Nations communities in Canada.

Use to discuss relationship skills, respect, a sense of community, empathy and resilience.

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What Next?

Do you have any favourite picture books to promote kindness in your classroom or at home? Let me know in the comments below.

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Children’s Books About Kindness and Thoughtfulness

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