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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen
Lotus and Feather by Ji-li Jiang
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.”
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.
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.
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
Share Your Rainbow: 18 Artists Draw Their Hope for the Future by R J Palacio
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.
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.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
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.
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.
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.
What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack
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Do you have any favourite picture books to promote kindness in your classroom or at home? Let me know in the comments below.