Ten Children’s Books That Teach Kindness and Empathy

April 13, 2021

Kindness and empathy are lacking in our world today, especially on social media. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time than NOW to start teaching our kids how to be kind and empathetic. Notice that I said HOW…because these things are learned behaviors.

I am an empath by nature, but I also believe my parents did a great job teaching me and my sisters kindness. My dad always stressed the importance of treating others how we would want to be treated, and my mom modeled kindness and empathy on the daily.

Start Now, At Home

I think there are a lot of great ways to start teaching our children kindness and empathy, and it starts in the home. Don’t leave it to the schools; it’s our job as parents (and aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, etc.) to talk about it with our children and model it regularly. I know for me, books are an awesome way to start building those muscles of empathy in my children early on. With picture books, our kids not only read about relatable situations, but they can also SEE the emotions displayed through the illustrations, which I think is really powerful in helping them internalize the lessons from the books.

I personally love to read my kids books about kindness and then have conversations with them about the story. I guess it’s the teacher in me, but I enjoy talking about what we read, asking questions like: What would you have done? Do you think she made the right choice? How would you feel if you were in his shoes? Have you ever seen something like this happen at school? How could you handle it?

Here are ten books, five of which I own and have read many times to my own children, that I feel offer great lessons on kindness and empathy.

1. Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

This cute book was a favorite of my daughter’s for a long time. It’s perfect for elementary aged children, and it does a good job teaching kids about kindness as well as having the courage to be who they are. This is also a Teacher’s Pick book!

2. I Am Human

I really love the books by Susan Verde and Peter. H. Reynolds. They have written tons of great books for kids that provide real-world lessons, and this one in particular is perfect for teaching children how to be themselves and offer empathy to others.

3. The New Girl

Also a Teacher’s Pick, this is a great book for showing kids that it’s okay to sometimes feel uncomfortable with new people and situations, and that you never know what you might have in common with someone once you get to know him/her!

4. We’re All Wonders

You’ve likely heard of the chapter book and/or the movie; well, this is the KIDS version of Wonder. It is told from the perspective of Auggie, so it’s a perfect way for kids to understand how it feels to be different. Another Teacher’s Pick!

5. It’s OK to be Different

Perfect for younger kids (think preschool/Kinder/1st grade), this book provides examples of how we are all different from each other and that we were made that way on purpose!

6. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Teasing

A childhood classic that offers the lesson of what it’s like to tease others and then have the tables turned. This one’s great for siblings!

7. Be Kind

This book is great for upper elementary because it shows how being kind can sometimes be difficult (because we don’t always know the best thing to do to help someone or show them kindness). Great for having important discussions!

8. Empathy Is Your Superpower

I don’t own this book (yet), but it’s a new release for ages 5-7 that shows how empathy is a superpower! Adding to cart now. 🙂

9. The Jelly Donut Difference

Another great book for siblings! Kids can learn how sharing, caring and inclusion makes the world a better place.

10. The World Needs More Purple People

I first heard about this book when Kristen Bell talked about it on a podcast interview. With fun illustrations and lots of color, this book teaches kids about finding common ground and looking for the good in a world where division and negativity run rampant.

There are TONS more great books out there, but hopefully this is a good start. If you know of another great book that teaches kindness and/or empathy, please share in the comments!

You might also like Random Acts of Christmas Kindness: A Different Spin on Advent

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