Children’s books that teach kindness harness the power of story to build an important character trait. Check out our favorite kindness stories for kids!
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It often starts as soon as our day begins.
“Sissy, I wanted to play with that!” “Mom, he pushed me!” “I don’t want to play with you!” “You’re not going to be my brother anymore!” “I want to be first!”
The bickering, complaining, arguing, and fighting. This isn’t the way I want to start our day.
Maybe you can relate?
With three kids between the ages of 2 and 6, there’s no shortage of intense emotions around here. And while it’s natural for small children to be self-centered and self-serving, I also know it’s my responsibility to help teach them a different way. A better way.
I want to help build their character and teach these precious little people how to treat others with kindness and empathy. How to approach others with positive intentions and actions.
Sometimes, that’s just plain hard.
I’ll be the first to admit–I don’t like to give parenting advice, because, quite frankly, I often feel like I’m getting it wrong.
But one thing I have learned over the years is that stories can be powerful teachers.
Seeing other characters encounter difficult situations, watching them think through scenarios, and understanding the motives behind their actions can be much more effective than a lecture from me.
Not only that, but stories serve as incredible springboards for discussion. What better way to teach our children a virtue than by snuggling up, reading a fun book, and discussing it afterward?
I recently set out to find several books that focused on or highlighted the character trait of kindness. I believe wholeheartedly that a little bit of kindness can go a long way. Training the next generation at a young age can have a significant impact on the world.
We took the time to read through several books, most of which we were able to find at our local library. The list that follows are some of our favorites!
13 Children’s Books that Teach Kindness
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
This book offers a helpful visual for kids, using the idea of filling someone else’s happiness bucket with kind words or deeds. The book also talks about dipping into someone else’s bucket when we treat them badly. I also appreciated that the book discusses how dipping into others’ buckets empties our own buckets as well. It’s a great story that helps make an intangible idea more easily understood.
The Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson
This is a lovely story of a giant who gives his cherished belongings to help others who are in need. Later in the story, those he helped rallied around him to show their gratitude for his kindness. My kids loved the rhyming verses.
Superworm by Julia Donaldson
This fun book tells the tale of Superworm, who willingly helps his garden friends who need assistance. When he gets captured by the wicked Wizard Lizard, his friends come to his rescue! Another fun rhyming book, and my kids loved the pictures.
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
A child named Amelia sets of a chain of events that carries happiness around the globe. I loved this book for its focus on how even an act as small as a smile can create ripples of happiness in the world. It also serves as a reminder that you don’t have to be an adult in a position of prominence to show kindness–even small children can brighten the day of someone else.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
My children were completely enamored by this beautifully-illustrated fairytale. A greedy King seeks more and more possessions, but realizes these material goods aren’t bringing him happiness. A gifted quilt maker teaches him the important lessons of generosity and kindness, causing him to have a change of heart.
Suzy Swoof: A Book About Kindness by Michael Waite
The other Swoof kids make fun of Suzy because she can’t fly. Despite their ridicule, Suzy rushes to help them in their time of need. Her act of kindness helps the other Swoofs to realize how badly they had treated Suzy, and their attitudes change as a result of her good deed.
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
A tiny snail and a large whale travel together on a grand adventure. However, when the whale gets stuck on land, the tiny snail works hard to enlist the help of others. Together with the snail’s bravery, the kindness of strangers helps to save the whale. Another fun rhyming story from Julia Donaldson!
The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet
The elephant shows kindness to the other animals in the jungle. But when he finds himself in need of assistance, it’s an unlikely hero who comes to the rescue. I love how this fun story shows that anyone can make a difference, no matter how small.
Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent by Bill Peet
Despite peer pressure from a shark, Cyrus the sea serpent decides not to be mean. Instead he chooses to stay true to his kind ways. I appreciate the fact that this book discusses what to do when others tempt us to be unkind. The illustrations in all of Bill Peet’s books are always fun–he was an animator for Disney Studios, working on such films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
In this book, a boy and his grandma are traveling on a bus to volunteer at a soup kitchen. On their journey, they encounter many different people. The boy asks his grandma questions about these people, and she helps bring awareness to the fact that everyone has a different story, and everyone has something to offer.
The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills
In this touching story set in rural Appalachia, neighbors show kindness by making a coat of rags for a young girl. However, when her classmates make fun of the coat, the girl responds with grace and kindness, causing them to have a change of heart. It’s a lovely story of friendship that forms out of kindness.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Molly Lou Melon is made fun of by a classmate after moving to a new school. Because she is confident in her abilities and in who she is, she is able to respond in kindness, eventually winning the heart of her classmate. I like how this book demonstrates that we have to first be kind to ourselves in order to show kindness to others. The illustrations are stunning as well.
How Do Dinosaurs Play with their Friends by Jan Yolen
We love the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series, and this board book is a fun rhyming reminder of how we should treat others. It highlights many specific ways we can show kindness to others.
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Keep the Discussion Going
While these books may not elicit an overnight change in your child, I do believe that taking the time to intentionally discuss kindness with our children can make a big difference over time.
This is a subject that will likely need revisiting, over and over again as our children grow and change. Even adults need the reminder!
Utilizing the power of fun stories in children’s books that teach kindness is one way to keep the discussion going, and to show tangible ways we can exhibit kindness to those we encounter each day!
What are your favorite books to teach kids about kindness?