You’ve probably heard the saying that we must be kind because everyone is fighting a harder battle than we realize. While traditionally the quote is attributed to Plato, we think nothing has taught the virtue of kindness more powerfully than good children’s books. That’s why we created this extensive list of the top children’s books about kindness.
Kindness is contagious and beautiful. It can make the most gloomy day sunny, dry tears and change the world. It’s a powerful force that we learn how to use, though it’s also innate. Kindness might be hard to describe to a young reader, but it’s very easy to show. This list features story books that offer concrete examples you can share and discuss with your kids about what it means to be kind, like the importance of helping others and using kind words. Some titles also cover specific aspects of kindness, like being kind to animals. In these books, you’re sure to discover favorite new characters and book quotes that will help your child understand what it means to be kind.
Our list can also help you find the best books for discussing certain aspects of kindness, like how kindness incorporates showing compassion, or how developing empathy helps us be more kind, or how kindness and friendship build on one another. Browse our entire list, or use our table of contents to jump to specific subtopics that would be helpful to you.
You can also filter the list to show books by age group: board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books and picture books are great for reading aloud with your young reader. Our list of chapter books, on the other hand, is a good place to find books ideal for readers through early middle school age or longer reads to enjoy as a family.
From titles you might already about to new titles you’re sure to love discovering with your child, our list has the best of children’s books about kindness. Let us know what titles you would add to the list!
A classic in the making, this heartwarming story about empathy and imagination is one that families will treasure for years to come.
Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.
But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?
The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.
Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.
Manners don’t come naturally to everyone! But did you know that elephants are known for their impeccable etiquette? It’s true! This hilarious guide to good manners offers many fun teaching moments for kids and their parents–it covers all the basics for the preschool set, from saying “please” and “thank you” to sharing and being kind to others. Filled with bright, adorable illustrations in Hello!Lucky’s inimitable style, young children will love learning about manners with this delightful, sturdy board book.
This lyrical, whimsical picture book, set in the old city of Istanbul, celebrates kindness and generosity of spirit. Follow one little girl on her busy day through the old city of Istanbul–from the Galata bridge to the Grand Bazaar–as the city opens its arms to her. All along the way, the generous people she meets share many gifts with her: sesame rounds, hot tea, a boat ride, rose candy, pomegranate juice, even a scrub in a Turkish bath! But she doesn’t just keep the gifts for herself. At every turn, she finds a way to share what has been given to her and pass it on so others can enjoy it too. With poetic text and radiant artwork, author Anna Pellicioli and Turkish illustrator Merve Atilgan bring us this heartwarming tale of kindness and generosity in the city known as the crossroads of the world.
Now available in board book, You’re Here for a Reason, from national-bestselling and beloved author Nancy Tillman, takes a universal truth and makes it accessible for readers young and old. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. In this tender and timeless read-along book, Tillman reminds us of this message in beautiful illustrations as children and animals interact with acts of kindness. “You’re here for a reason. If you think you’re not, I would just say that perhaps you forgot . . . a piece of the world that is precious and dear would surely be missing if you weren’t here. If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart this place we call home would be minus a part. Thank goodness you’re here! Thank goodness times two! I just can’t imagine a world without you.”
“Such a visual piece . . . readers young and old will return to the story to look more deeply; they won’t be disappointed.” – Booklist (starred review) In a city full of hurried people, only young Will notices the bird lying hurt on the ground. With the help of his sympathetic mother, he gently wraps the injured bird and takes it home. Wistful and uplifting in true Bob Graham fashion, here is a tale of possibility – and of the souls who never doubt its power.
Andy and the Lion - A Caldecott Honor Book While walking to school one day, Andy meets a lion and soon makes a new friend. A tale of gratitude and helping out our neighbors, children of all ages will love this retelling of the classic folktale “Androcles and the Lion.”
Horton Hears a Who! - A city of Whos on a speck of dust are threatened with destruction until the smallest Who of all helps convince Horton’s friends that Whos really exist. Reissue.
Most People - Michael Leannah wrote Most People as an antidote to the scary words and images kids hear and see every day. Jennifer Morris’s illustrations provide the perfect complement to Leannah’s words, leading us through the crowded streets of an urban day in the company of two young children. We see what they see: the hulking dude with tattoos and chains assisting an elderly lady onto the bus; the business man helping the girl who has fallen from her bike; the family showing concern for the homeless woman; all the myriad interactions of daily life. Most People is a comforting response to the dreadful news reports that surface far too often in our world today.
It Will Be Ok: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship - Sometimes the best thing we can do for our loved ones is listen and be present as long as they need us.Giraffe and Zebra meet every day under their favorite tree to walk to the watering hole. But today, Giraffe isn’t there! Where could he be? Zebra spots him hiding in the tree; Giraffe has seen a spider and is scared silly. Zebra patiently talks to Giraffe and does the very best thing: supports Giraffe for as long as Giraffe needs it.A sweet story about the power of friendship, kindness, and empathy that helps us face our fears no matter how silly they may seem.
Evie is a determined, ingenious and bright little Strawberry Fairy who lives in an old teapot. Join Evie and her friends, the flower fairies and creatures of Wildberry Acres, on their magical adventures in this second book in the Evie the Strawberry Fairy series.
Evie is determined to win first prize at the Strawberry Fair with her amazing hot-air balloon! But on the way to the competition the creatures of Wildberry Acres need her help. What is most important to Evie: winning or helping others?
Through Evie’s adventures young readers will learn about the natural world - how plants grow and how all living things are connected. This is a story about creativity, putting others first and helping out. Stefanie Dahle’s illustrations are charming, detailed and full of character and fun.
Winter has arrived, and the forest is covered in snow. But with the tree branches bare and the grass frozen, what will the forest animals eat?
Norbert the Winter Gnome decides to visit his hungry friends, trekking through the icy forest to bring each of them a delicious gift.
From Daniela Drescher, the much-loved creator of Pippa and Pelle and In the Land of Fairies, this beautifully illustrated board book about friendship and kindness is full of seasonal detail that will captivate very young readers.
Rice from Heaven is a true story about compassion and bravery as a young girl and her community in South Korea help deliver rice via balloons to the starving and oppressed people in North Korea. “We reach a place where mountains become a wall. A wall so high, no one dares to climb. Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have food to eat.” Yoori lives in South Korea and doesn’t know what North Korea is like, but her father (Appa) does. Appa grew up in North Korea, where he did not have enough food to eat. Starving, he fled to South Korea in search of a better life. Yoori doesn’t know how she can help as she’s only a little “grain of rice” herself, but Appa tells her that they can secretly help the starving people by sending special balloons that carry rice over the border. Villagers glare and grumble, and children protest feeding the enemy, but Yoori doesn’t back down. She has to help. People right over the border don’t have food. No rice, and no green fields. With renewed spirit, volunteers gather in groups, fill the balloons with air, and tie the Styrofoam containers filled with rice to the tails of the balloons. With a little push, the balloons soar up and over the border, carrying rice in the darkness of the night over to North Korea.
Ella is extraordinary. Extraordinarily ordinary, that is. Not graceful like Carmen or musical like Kenji, Ella is determined to prove herself at the school talent show. But when every attempt to find a talent falls flat and her own ordinary acts of kindness steal the show, Ella discovers just how extraordinary ordinary can be!
Bestselling author Glenys Nellist tells a Christmas tale of generosity and kindness. It was going to be the best Christmas ever because Little Mole had found the perfect gift for Mama: the biggest, most beautiful mushroom he had ever seen. But on his way home, Little Mole encounters other woodland friends in need. Though it pains him to do so, Little Mole shares pieces of his mushroom with each friend he meets until there’s not much left. Disappointed and anxious about what this means for Christmas, Little Mole wraps what’s left of the mushroom. He fears Christmas is ruined, but ultimately, Little Mole discovers that his gift was bigger than he ever imagined.Little Mole’s Christmas Gift is a companion to Nellist’s spring-themed picture book, Little Mole Finds Hope.
To the Sea - Sometimes Tim feels invisible at school-until one day, when Tim meets Sam. But Sam isn’t just any new friend: he’s a blue whale, and he can’t find his way home! Returning Sam to the sea is hard work, but Tim is determined to help. After all, it’s not every day you meet a new friend! This picture book about the power of friendship by new talent Cale Atkinson is brought to life by charming, dynamic illustrations.
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth - Oliver Jeffers, arguably the most influential creator of picture books today, offers a rare personal look inside his own hopes and wishes for his child—and in doing so gifts children and parents everywhere with a gently sweet and humorous missive about our world and those who call it home. Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers’ user’s guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet’s terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver’s signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.
The Nice Book - -
The Princess Who Had No Kingdom - There once was a princess without a kingdom. All she had was a pony and cart and a red umbrella to keep her dry from the rain. Though she lacked worldly possessions, she made up for it in kindness, cleverness, and beauty—qualities that made all the rich princes with kingdoms want to marry her. A wise and witty modern-day fairy tale brought magically to life through Sarah Gibb’s exquisite art.
Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.
Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.
But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
Lola is building her dream sandcastle—one with a tall, tall tower and sea glass that sends signals to mermaids. But the beach is crowded, and soon enough, a boy steps on her castle. Not to worry! Lola recruits him to build a wall. When a toddler with a bulldozer starts digging too close the walls, Lola decides he can be in charge of digging the moat. As the sandcastle grows, so does Lola’s friendly group of helpers. There’s only one thing that Lola doesn’t want near the sandcastle: a wave! Will the new friends be able to salvage the mermaids’ castle when their hard work is washed away?
It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street outside Frances’s apartment. When it’s quiet she can hear their music, and when she looks out her window at midnight, she sees them sleeping outside. Finally the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, but when it’s Frances’s turn to speak, all she can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes—until a door opens just in time, and she finds the perfect words to share. With this luminous tale, Kate DiCamillo pairs with Bagram Ibatoulline to offer a timeless holiday gift.
The humorous adventures of an irresistible little rock who finds herself in constantly changing circumstances, Petra is a picture book that celebrates the power of perspective and believing in yourself. Petra is a little rock who believes she is a mighty mountain . . . until a dog fetches her for its owner, and she is tossed into a bird’s nest. A mountain? No, Petra is now an egg! An egg of the world in a world of possibility. Until she’s flung into a pond, and becomes an amazing island . . . and, eventually, a little girl’s pet rock. What will she be tomorrow? Who knows? But she’s a rock, and this is how she rolls!
From the author of The BFG and Matilda!
Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!
Bernice Gets Carried Away - Perfect for a new generation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day readers, this charming story about a grumpy cat gently shows how far a little sharing can go. Bernice is having a truly rotten time at her friend’s birthday party. First, everyone else gets a piece of cake with a frosting rose. But not Bernice. Then, everyone else gets strawberry-melon soda. Bernice gets the prune-grapefruit juice. And it’s warm. The last straw is the one lousy (squished) candy she gets from the piñata. So when the balloons arrive, Bernice knows just what she has to do: grab them all. And then, poor cross Bernice gets carried up, up, and away. Luckily, she figures out just how to make her way back down to the party…and she brightens lots of other animals’ days on her way. Hannah Harrison’s gorgeous animal paintings come alive in her second picture book. Her “exceptionally polished” debut, Extraordinary Jane, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.
THE BEST SICK DAY EVER and the animals in the zoo feature in this striking picture book debut. Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year and the winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal. This title has Common Core connections.
Simple, direct, and emotive, Kate Jane Neal’s Words and Your Heart’s message is that words have extraordinary power–to harm and to heal; to create and to destroy; and to spread love. This book is about your heart. (the little bit inside of you that makes you, you!) The words we listen to can affect how we feel. Some words can do amazing things and make us happy. And some words can really hurt us (we all know what sort of words those are). Our words have power, and we can choose to use them to make the world a better place.
Easy-to-read, rhyming text provides examples of how to show kindness that even a baby will want to try.
Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.
Mónica and Hannah are school kids in the big city. Together, they have formed the Homesick Club, since they are both from far away. Mónica misses the family of hummingbirds that she and her grandmother would feed in her backyard in Bolivia every day. Hannah misses the sunshine and the tiny tortoise that lived near her house in Israel.
When a new teacher, Miss Shelby, arrives from Texas, the girls discover that she misses her home, too, especially the huge sky full of stars and a Southern treat known as Hummingbird Cake. The girls ask Miss Shelby to join their club, then Mónica decides she will bring a surprise for show and tell – a surprise that brings Miss Shelby close to tears.
Author Libby Martinez addresses a theme that many children can relate to – feeling homesick – especially when home is far away. Rebecca Gibbon’s charming illustrations bring an imaginative, light touch to the story.
Goat's Coat - This charmingly illustrated rhyming picture book about Alfonzo, a goat with a very special coat, celebrates the power of kindness and friendship. Let me tell you the tale of Alfonzo the goat, who was terribly proud of his lovely new coat. Alfonzo was happy; he pranced and he skipped. Then he heard a sad noise, croaking out of a ditch. Alfonzo couldn’t be happier. He just got an amazing new coat, and he feels like a million dollars. But when he discovers some creatures in need of help, will Alfonzo be able to give up his treasured possession to save the day? This great big hug of a book shows that kindness is definitely the best recipe. Awards for Tom Percival Herman’s Letter–A Kids’ Indie Next List Pick
Enemy Pie - It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy! In this funny yet endearing story, one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning your best enemy into your best friend. Accompanied by charming illustrations, Enemy Pie serves up a sweet lesson in the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends.
Extra Yarn - From bestselling and award-winning author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen comes Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller. A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in this stunning picture book. With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic. Fans of Oliver Jeffers and Peter Brown will love this book.
From the author of Strictly No Elephants comes a sweet picture book that explores themes of selflessness and empathy when a girl has the chance to make just one wish.
In the grass, a girl finds an extraordinary thing that gives her…just…one…wish.
She asks her those around her what they would wish for in her shoes, but nothing seems quite right. What will her perfect wish be?
In this pitch-perfect picture book, Lisa Mantchev takes the concept of a magic wish and uses it to explore real world empathy, kindness, and good will.
Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him - watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem - like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce - Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution.
Inspired by a real person, author Laura Alary has written a heartwarming story about how amazing things can grow when you tend your garden with kindness. In this case, Larry, a teacher, is helping to grow community. He has his students grow tomato plants that they then give away to their neighbors with personal notes. It offers a powerful lesson on the influence of generosity, while encouraging young children to become community activists in their own neighborhoods. This uplifting story fosters an appreciation for neighborhood and community at a time when that sentiment seems to be eroding. The book also contains an environmental message about harvesting your own vegetables and, with Kass Reich’s colorful illustrations, works beautifully for a life science exploration of growth and changes in plants. There are character education connections to caring, cooperation, empathy, kindness, perseverance and teamwork.
When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling
A beloved classic is lovelier than ever!
Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication.
To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of two-time Caldecott winner Barbara Cooney’s best-loved book, Viking has reoriginated the illustrations, going back to the original art to ensure state-of-the-art reproduction of Cooney’s exquisite artwork. The art for Miss Rumphius has a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
A thoughtful picture book illustrating the power of small acts of kindness, from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash.
Be Kind: You Can Make the World a Happier Place! 125 Kind Things to Say & Do - In a world where people spend more time engaging through screens than in real-life interaction, showing basic human kindness can feel like a lost art. Be Kind offers children aged 5 and up simple, actionable things they can do in their daily lives that help them cultivate kindness toward others and grow into people with the capacity to make the world a kinder place. In Be Kind, kids learn that kindness is a quality that can be expressed in ways other than merely being “nice,” including standing up for someone or something, engaging in a community, showing compassion toward other beings, and expressing gratitude. With joyful illustrations and kid-friendly writing, this idea book serves as a delightful, easy-to-read collection of 125 concrete activities kids and their families can pick and choose from and act out in their daily lives, whether it’s being the first person to say good morning, offering compliments, shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway, learning to say hello in different languages, or sending a card to someone — no special occasion required. On every page, Be Kind empowers kids to make the world a better, kinder place, one action at a time.
My Heart - From the author-illustrator of The Book of Mistakes comes a gorgeous picture book about caring for your own heart and living with kindness and empathy. My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide. Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you. With lyrical text and breathtaking art, My Heart, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the guide within in this ode to love and self-acceptance.
Hosea Plays On - This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met. Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for. Kathleen Blasi’s delightful text and Shane Evan’s colorful images capture the real-life closeness between the much-loved Hosea—who shared his passion for music and life with everyone—and his community. An Author’s Note explains how Blasi learned about Hosea Taylor (1948-2016), and what compelled her to write his story.
A quirky kid donates her beloved panda sweater, and through this act of sacrifice gains a new friend. With whimsical, contemporary artwork, this story balances the topic of selflessness with humor and heart, while also offering an opportunity to talk about bullying, sharing and self-confidence.
Sally McCabe is a very little girl, and nobody notices her, although she notices everything that goes on around her–but when she speaks out about the unkindness she sees, people start to pay attention.
When Penguin and Bootsy plan a field trip in search of Fall, Penguin’s little brother, Pumpkin, wants to come. Pumpkin is heartbroken to find out he’s too little to go, and when Penguin tries to say good-bye, his brother is nowhere to be found! At the farm, all the pumpkins Penguin sees remind him of his own special Pumpkin.
So Penguin and Bootsy bring a special surprise home to share a little touch of Autumn with Pumpkin. Prolific author/illustrator Salina Yoon’s spare text and bright, energetic illustrations bring to life this endearing story celebrating Autumn and family in many forms!
The hug machine is available to hug anyone, any time, whether they are square or long, spikey or soft.
In this delightful story, by the same author who wrote When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, a boy is disappointed with his grandfather’s gift—until he learns he can use it to build exactly what he wanted with his own two hands, and a little help from grandpa, of course!
You asked for a special house for your dolls; but instead Grandpa gives you a toolbox! What do you do? Launching it into outer space is a bad idea. So is feeding it to a T. rex! Instead, be patient, pay attention, and you might find that you’re pretty handy. And just maybe, with grandpa’s help, you’ll get that dollhouse after all. This clever story celebrates kindness, hard work, and community, as well as variety in gender expression: the male main character proudly engages in activities that might be considered typically girl (playing with dolls) and typically boy (building with tools).
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