Kindness, empathy, acceptance, and compassion are skills children learn, and that we as parents can nurture. As my children get older, I find this topic to be of greater and greater importance, and more of my focus is on how to foster the growth of kindness and gratitude. Many strategies can be used to encourage the development of these important social competencies. We can teach this by:
- Practicing kindness.
- Perform purposeful acts of kindness on a regular basis and reinforce and discuss what kindness truly is.
- Modeling kindness to others, and showing our children how kindness feels by helping them to experience it themselves.
- In my post, Three Strategies to Teach the Power of Kindness, I give examples of how we can show our children how kindness feels, and then teach them that they have the power to make others feel that way, too!
- Pointing out kindnesses when we notice them:
- Please refer back to my post on kindness jars for a simple, yet effective DIY project to reinforce simple acts of kindness by your children at home.
- Read books about kindness and discuss them with our children. My boys LOVE books, and I find there is often no better way to teach them than through the power of written language and beautiful illustrations.
Therefore, the following are must-haves for your home library.
27 (updated) children’s books to teach kindness, empathy, and acceptance:
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1. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
- What it’s about: One small ordinary deed can create a chain reaction and spread across the globe.
2. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud, David Messing.
- This is one we read and reference often! See my post on Kindness Jars for more information on what this book is about and how to teach kindness in your home.
3. Kindness Counts: A Story for Teaching Random Acts of Kindness (Without Limits) by Bryan Smith, Brian Martin
- What it’s about: Random acts of kindness and paying it forward.
4. You, Me and Empathy: Teaching children about empathy, feelings, kindness, compassion, tolerance and recognising bullying behaviours by Jayneen Sanders, Sofia Cardoso
- What it’s about: A multicultural book about how empathy can connect people.
5. The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sornson, Maria Dismondy
- What it’s about: Encourages kids to take care of and stand up for each other.
6. The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World by Maria Dismondy, P.S. Brooks
- What it’s about: Teaches the importance of sharing and caring through the relationship of siblings.
7. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, Patrice Barton
- What it’s about: Demonstrates how a small act of kindness by a child can have a huge impact on others. It is also about including others.
8. How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham, Bob Graham
- What it’s about: A boy’s act of kindness to help a bird and the hope that is born as the bird returns to the sky.
9. You Are Friendly (YOU ARE IMPORTANT) by Todd Snow, Melodee Strong
- What it’s about: How to be a good friend is part of the You Are Important Series.
10. The Spirit of Christmas: A Giving Tradition by Nicky Benson and Jason Cockcroft
- What it’s about: We have this one and read it often duirng the holidays! We love that it is focused on giving to others during this season, as opposed to receiving.
11. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
- What it’s about: This book has it all: diversity, kindness, and gratitude! Love it.
12. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, Christian Robinson
- What it’s about: How to appreciate the beauty in the world, no matter what you have. I love the relationship between a grandmother and grandson, the multicultural elements in the book, and the message about gratitude.
What it’s about: “There is no you or me, only we.” It helps to create empathy and kindness, rather than discrimination.
14. Come With Me by Molly M. MGhee, Illustrated by Puscal Lemaitre
- What it’s about: It is a story about bravery, kindness, and making a difference in the world despite all of the awful stories you hear in the news.
15. Most People by Michael Leannah, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
- What it’s about: The bad people in the world are outnumbered by the good. Appearnaces have nothing to do with the content of your heart and character. We have so much in common, despite our diverse backgrounds.
16. Lovely by Jess Hong
- What it’s about: We are all lovely, even though we are different.
17. One by Kathryn Otoshi
- What it’s about: Sometimes it just takes one kind voice to make everyone stand up together despite their differences, and count.
18. The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts, illustrated by Christian Robinson
- What it’s about: One small girl can stand up against what is wrong and make a difference.
19. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
- What it’s about: How we can miss out on wonderful friendships if we miss opportunities to be kind.
20. Peace Is an Offering by Annette LeBox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
- What it’s about: We have this one. It is a beautiful book about the many ways you can be kind to others, and I love the diverse characters.
21. Pass It On by Sophy Henn
- What it’s about: Pass on every kindness you notice to someone else!
22. We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
- What it’s about: Based on the national bestseller and upcoming movie, Wonder, and the “Choose Kind” movement, this book is for younger readers and the ability to choose to be kind to others.
23. We All Sing with the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene
- What it’s about: Connecting children around the world through song.
24. Listening with my Heart by Gabi Barcia, Illustrated by Ying Hui Tan
- What it’s about: Compassion and kindness, not just for others, but for yourself.
25. Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
- What it’s about: Mr. Harch receives a secret kindness from someone else and decides to share it with others. Eventually he finds out who his secret admirer is. Such a sweet story.
26. Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler:
- What it’s about: Mrs. Ruler keeps her students in from recess, and they end up learning about the golden rule. Can they reach 100 good deeds?
27. Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy by Bernadette Russel
- What it’s about: A quirky book about kindness for kids!
~~For additional books, check out this AMAZING website:
https://diversebookfinder.org/books/. This is an incredible database of children’s books designed for parents who want to incorporate diversity into their libraries.
~~You can also get access to my free gratitude and kindness printable activities for children here.
~~Read with your little helpers! Enjoy that time together, learn about compassion, diversity, and kindness, and spread more love throughout the world.