Books for Children
The following books explore concepts of kindness. Many have received national awards and all have received very positive reviews from parents and educators. Age appropriateness will vary depending on reviewer so you may find several of these books can be enjoyed by a wide variety of grade levels.
Pre-school – Kindergarten
Kindness is Cooler Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
When Mrs. Ruler asks five of her kindergarteners to miss recess, she’s got a special plan up her sleeve. She’s about to teach a new golden rule:
KINDNESS IS COOL! Soon the entire class is doing so many good deeds that their kindness bulletin board barely fits their classroom! From clearing the table after dinner, to helping the elderly, one kindergarten class is proving that kids really can make a difference. Count along with Mrs. Ruler’s class. Can all their good deeds really add up to 100 acts of kindness?
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller (author), Jen Hill (Illustrator)
When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind? From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.
All The World by Liz Garten Scanlon
Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning until night, this book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to the warmth of family connections, to the widest sunset sky.
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
This simple yet powerful picture book tells the story of one girl who inspires a community to stand up to bullying. Inspired by real events, I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help.
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
Because Amelia smiles as she skips down the street, her neighbor Mrs. Higgins smiles too, and decides to send a care package of cookies to her grandson Lionel in Mexico. The cookies give Lionel an idea, and his idea inspires a student, who in turn inspires a ballet troupe in England! And so the good feelings that started with Amelia’s smile make their way around the world, from a goodwill recital in Israel, to an impromptu rumba concert in Paris, to a long-awaited marriage proposal in Italy, to a knitted scarf for a beloved niece back in New York. Putting a unique spin on “what goes around comes around,” David Ezra Stein’s charmingly illustrated story reminds us that adding even a small dose of kindness into the world is sure to spur more and more kindness, which could eventually make its way back to you!
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead (Author), Erin Stead (Illustrator)
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.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator)
This 2016 winner of the Newbery Medal follows a young boy, CJ, and his grandmother on their way home one day. CJ spends most of the journey asking “How come…?” questions about everyone and everything. His grandmother answers each question with patience and eventually they leave the bus to volunteer at a soup kitchen. CJ is asking seemingly simple questions throughout the book, but his grandmother’s responses always elicit empathy toward the other characters throughout the book. It serves as a reminder that everyone we encounter has skills and a story, but we must be kind and open-hearted in order to hear it.
The Three Questions (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy)
Nikolai is a boy who believes that if he can find the answers to his three questions, he will always know how to be a good person. His friends–a heron, a monkey, and a dog–try to help, but to no avail, so he asks Leo, the wise old turtle. “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” Leo doesn’t answer directly, but by the end of Nikolai’s visit, the boy has discovered the answers himself.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts (Author), Noah Jones (Illustrator)
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev (Author), Taeeun Yoo (Illustrator)
Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend…Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.
Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine (Author), Rene King Moreno (Illustrator)
In this story set in rural Mexico, a young girl named Rosalinda awakens one night to find that a Night Man has taken the lemons from her beloved tree. Soon after this event, the tree begins to sicken. Rosalinda asks her parents, some neighbors, and her abuela (grandmother) for advice. When her grandmother tells Rosalinda about La Anciana—the Old One—the girl begins to search for her. Just when Rosalinda discovers the Night Man selling her lemons in the market, La Anciana appears. “Perhaps he had a need,” the Old One tells Rosalinda and offers instructions for healing the tree. The story ends as Rosalinda gives away the beautiful lemons that her healthy tree now yields, including one to the Night Man whom she tells to plant the seeds while the lemon moon is still in the sky.
The Promise by Nicola Davies (Author), Laura Carlin (Illustrator)
On a mean street in a mean, broken city, a young girl tries to snatch an old woman’s bag. But the frail old woman, holding on with the strength of heroes, says the thief can’t have it without giving something in return: the promise. It is the beginning of a journey that will change the thieving girl’s life — and a chance to change the world, for good. Here is the story of a magical discovery that will touch the heart and imagination of every reader, young and old.