Kindness is an important character trait that reduces stress, by making kids happier and improving their self-esteem. This is why it is so important to teach to kids. I use children’s books about kindness as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn. As you are reading, ask questions and engage the reader.
I often cover being kind in my lessons, I use this Character Education Kindness Curriculum that includes everything you need to teach kindness in your classroom. Looking for more ideas on how to incorporate kindness in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching Kindness in the Classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about kindness out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I get a small commission that costs you nothing and helps me continue to provide this content.
Title of Book and Author: Will you be the I in Kind? by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: Go on an adventure searching for the “I’ in Kind. Along the way, different kids learn how to be kind. Here is what they learn: Smile with kind eye, Be aware of what others might need and help when you can, Pick up litter to be kind to our planet, Show an interest in other people, take the focus off you. Make everyone feel significant. Pay attention to the good things they do. Be patient, and let others have a turn. Do a random act of kindness, without expecting anything in return.
Why I like the book: I love how the book goes into specifics about exactly how a person can be kind. Often, we tell kids to show kindness or be nice but we don’t tell them how. Teaching kids exactly what they can do to be kind encourages more kind acts because they have examples of what to do. The illustrations are beautiful and I love the diverse characters. It is a great addition to your classroom or counseling library.
The moral of the story: Look for ways to show kindness every day.
Topics covered: Kindness, helping others.
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Will you be the I in Kind? on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Jelly Donut Difference by Maria Dismondy
A short summary of the book: The Jelly Donut Difference is about twins, Leah and Dexter, who argue and fight over almost everything, just like most siblings do. Despite their usual sibling rivalry, they extend kindness to their neighbor by picking up eggs for her; while doing so, they notice that she lives alone. Dexter suggests that his parents invite their neighbor over for dinner. During dinner, their neighbor shares stores of her childhood, including making jelly donuts with her family in Poland. Leah and Dexter’s dad help them make a batch, and they deliver the jelly donuts to their neighbor. She responds by writing them a long thank-you note. Throughout the story, the twins learn that small acts of kindness really can change someone’s entire day. Leah and Dexter also learn to be thankful for each other.
Why I like the book: This story provides a relatable narrative for students to follow along with while showing that paying attention to small details in others’ lives can lead to generous acts of kindness that make a huge impact. It also teaches them to be grateful for one another.
The moral of the story: Putting aside our differences can help us unite forces for good.
Topics covered: Kindness; Generosity; Positive Relationships; Working Together; Caring
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The jelly donut difference on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
A short summary of the book: In Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Ralph teases Lucy for how she looks and the type of lunch she eats. One day, Ralph finds himself in a bad situation; he is stuck at the top of the monkey bars! Lucy wants to tell him how mean he is, but she decides to help Ralph when she realizes that he truly is afraid. Lucy overcomes her hurt feelings to be kind to her bully.
Why I like the book: This book touches on people’s differences, such as Lucy’s love for different types of foods, while highlighting the ways we are all the same on the inside with fears, the ability to choose kindness, and choosing to have courage.
The moral of the story: You can choose to be kind and courageous even when others don’t make this choice. Your example can help change the way others act.
Topics covered: Courage; Friendship; Bullying; Self-Esteem; Kindness
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Spaghetti in a hot dog bun on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud
A short summary of the book: Carol McCloud writes this book as a guide to happiness for kids. She explains that everyone carries an invisible bucket. Positive choices we make, such as saying nice words or sharing, help us fill others’ buckets. On the contrary, by choosing to say or do mean things, we are dipping out of others’ buckets. Bucket fillers make the world a better place to be!
Why I like the book: This book helps teach children about the consequences of their actions through the metaphor of a bucket. The book also helps build empathy in young children by addressing bullies. Carol McCloud describes bullies in an easy to understand way by explaining that those who act mean usually have an empty bucket and deep down their own feelings are hurt.
The moral of the story: Being kind to others helps make us happy, but being mean makes everyone feel bad.
Topics covered: Happiness; Kindness; Bullying; Self-Regulation; Empathy
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Have you filled a bucket today on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: What Does it Mean to be Kind? By Rana DiOrio
A short summary of the book: Rana DiOrio answers the question “What does it mean to be kind?” throughout this book by writing of several examples of kindness; the book is centered around the idea of the golden rule. Examples of kindness include small acts like smiling at a new student or holding a door open for someone; they also include more complicated actions such as learning from our mistakes or taking time to listen to a friend who is sad. Other examples include saying “please”, sharing, and being kind to animals. The story also shares how kindness is contagious and can impact more people than intended.
Why I like the book: The illustrations in this book help students visualize several of DiOrio’s suggestions so they are able to understand the concept of kindness easier. The illustrations include diverse images of children of different races and sizes and with unique styles as well.
The moral of the story: Be kind to others in the same way you hope they will be kind to you.
Topics covered: Kindness; Feelings; Courage; Respect; Responsibility
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): What does it mean to be kind on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Kindness Counts by Bryan Smith
A short summary of the book: Cade and his family find out that a mystery person paid for their ice cream order, and they decide to carry the same gesture on by paying for someone else’s order. Showing unexpected acts of kindness seems easy to Cade, but being intentional with kindness is more difficult. Cade’s dad asks him to donate some of his toys to others, but Cade is not quite on board with that suggestion. This story tells of Cade’s journey of learning how to be kind to others even when it is not easy.
Why I like the book: This book provides a realistic storyline for students to follow along with on the topic of kindness. Being kind is not always easy, but Bryan Smith helps students see how to choose kindness in easy and hard situations and the impact of doing so.
The moral of the story: Random acts of kindness are a great way to show kindness to others, but it is also important to be kind to others when it is not quick or convenient.
Topics covered: Kindness; Selflessness; Generosity; Sacrifice
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Kindness counts on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Kindness is My Superhero by Alicia Ortego
A short summary of the book: As this story begins, Lucas is found making bad choices as he chooses to be rude to his classmate and tease her. At home, his mom takes time to explain many different ways to be kind towards others and encourages him to choose kindness. At bedtime that night, Lucas ponders what his mom told him and decides to be kind the next day. Lucas leads by example as he chooses to fix his mistakes while modeling good manners and positive behavior at home, at school, in the store, and on the playground. Lucas learns what kindness really means as he begins to understand how to be kind, sensitive, caring, and generous towards others.
Why I like the book: This story uses beautiful illustrations and rhymes to help children understand that it is okay to make mistakes and apologize. The examples Alicia Ortego chooses to highlight also help children learn about diversity and be able to succeed in showing kindness in a multicultural and inclusive environment.
The moral of the story: You can choose to make other people happy!
Topics covered: Kindness; Compassion; Empathy; Bullying; Manners; Positive Behaviors
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Kindness is my superpower on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
A short summary of the book: One day at school, Chloe meets her new classmate, Maya. Maya arrives at school with ragged clothing. No one wants to play with Maya, and her classmates keep their distance. They laugh at her clothes, her shoes, and her food. When Maya brings small toys to school, no one plays with her. Sadly, Maya’s classmates start calling her “Never New” because “everything she has comes from a secondhand store.” When Maya doesn’t show up to school for several days, their teacher gives them a kindness lesson that changes the students’ minds – and hearts.
Why I like the book: With beautiful illustrations reminiscent of a Patricia Polacco book, Each Kindness tells the story of how Maya teaches her classmates about empathy. The story’s ending isn’t wrapped up in a bow like most children’s books, but instead, leaves readers with something to ponder. The book motivates readers to be kind, understanding, and inclusive.
The moral of the story: Every small act of kindness counts. We must act with kindness before it’s too late.
Topics covered: Kindness; Socioeconomic Status; Inclusion
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Each Kindness on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
A short summary of the book: The main character of Enemy Pie is a young boy. He becomes jealous when a new kid named Jeremy moves into his neighborhood, laughs at him during a baseball game, and does not invite him to his trampoline party. Jeremy quickly becomes the boy’s number one enemy. The boy talks to his dad about his problem, and his dad encourages him to make a secret enemy pie. The pie might make his enemy’s hair fall out or give him bad breath, and the boy loves the idea of that. The boy’s dad said that the real key to the plan is that the boy has to spend an entire day playing with Jeremy before giving him the pie. After having a surprisingly fun day with Jeremy, the boy decides not to give him the enemy pie because Jeremy is no longer his enemy; he’s now his friend.
Why I like the book: Enemy Pie teaches students the importance of not jumping to conclusions about someone without truly getting to know them. It also encourages students to step outside of their comfort zones to make sure they are included in the fun instead of always waiting on someone else to invite them.
The moral of the story: The best way to get rid of an enemy is by making him or her your friend.
Topics covered: Friendship; Kindness; Bullying; Respect; Problem Solving; Community
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Enemy Pie on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup
A short summary of the book: Kindness Grows visually shows the contrast of the powers of being unkind as well as those of being kind. Choosing to be unkind can create a crack that grows larger and larger, resulting in separation from others. Choosing kindness can help turn a crack into a tree and allow something beautiful to grow. Being honest with others about how we feel can lead to forgiveness and unity among a community.
Why I like the book: The author of this book writes in a way that encourages children to think of and includes others while also being aware of one’s actions. The illustrations provide beautiful visuals of sadness and happiness by using dark and bright colors and keep the reader intrigued.
The moral of the story: Our actions can inspire others to be kind and help make a great community.
Topics covered: Kindness; Unity; Friendship; Community
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Kindness grows on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Kindness Starts With You – At School by Jacquelyn Stagg
A short summary of the book: This book stars a little girl named Maddy who believes that being kind is her job. Throughout the book, Maddy shows how to be kind while at school. She demonstrates kindness in simple ways throughout her day such as taking turns on the swings, saying “please” and “thank you”, and asking how one is feeling.
Why I like the book: There is a “Weekly Kindness Challenge” included in this book to encourage children to take turns, help and include others, be respectful, and apologize. It also provides many opportunities to open discussion with children about ways they can be kind to others too.
The moral of the story: Being kind makes the world a better place!
Topics covered: Kindness; Responsibility; Helpfulness; Sharing; Manners
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Kindness starts with you on Amazon
Title of book and Author: Love Big by Kat Kronenberg
A short summary of the book: Baboon lives in the African savanna which has recently changed from a lush, thriving land to a dry and desolate one. The animals are all upset and hungry and acting mean towards one another. Baboon observes as the animals act selfishly towards one another. Eventually, he sees Rhinoceros share a snack with Hare, and Baboon realizes that there is true power in being kind to others. Baboon tries out this newfound secret by being helpful towards Lion. This interaction gives Baboon courage, which then sets off a chain of kind interactions among the rest of the animals and helps them rebuild their community.
Why I like the book: This book teaches the importance of recognizing the power inside us and being there for others by acting kind and caring.
The moral of the story: There is special power in being kind to others.
Topics covered: Community; Courage; Kindness; Life lessons
Title of Book and Author: Operation Transformation by Leneen Faith
A short summary of the book: Looking for a book about Kindness and Empathy? The adventures of Peacebe and the Heartwatch series have the perfect book for that. Meet Peacebe, a 6-year-old boy who has a magical watch named Heartwatch. With the help of Heartwatch, Peacebe can fly, teleport, transform, and much more! When Peacebe makes fun of a classmate and has a hard time understanding why he is in trouble when “everyone else makes fun of him too”, his heartwatch transforms him into the classmate so he can see what it really feels like to be in his shoes. Peacebe sees how it feels when no one wants him on their team at recess or when he overhears classmates saying they don’t want him in their group. He feels lonely and sad and wants to change back to be himself again. His Heartwatch changes him back and he writes an apology letter to the classmate he bullied. Peacebe started picking him to be his partner and sit with him at lunch, once others saw him do this, they also were nicer to him because Peacebe was. At the end of the book, the author includes character questions to guide a group discussion on this topic as well as writing activities and comprehension connections
Why I like the book: This series (The adventures of Peacebe and the Heartwatch) is fantastic and a great collection to add to your classroom library or counseling office. I first became familiar with it because the author, Leneen Faith, is an educator from my old school district and Peacebekids is used in many schools to discuss character education.
The moral of the story: Seeing how it feels to be in another person’s shoes can help you see how your behavior impacts others.
Topics covered: Kindness; Empathy; Perspective Taking
Where can I purchase this book: Peacebe Kids
Resources about Kindness
Pair your favorite children’s books about kindness with these Character Education activities to make the perfect classroom lessons.