Best books for teaching children kindness
Books are a fantastic tool for teaching children kindness because they help children see the world through someone else’s eyes. They also provide clear illustrations for younger children on what kindness looks like (and what isn’t kind).
Raising kind kids is all about modelling, and having lots of opportunities to practise. Reading books together extends children’s awareness and gives them access to experiences that may not have in the real world. Here is my pick of the best books for teaching children kindness (ages 1-11yrs).
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Plant A Kiss (by Amy Krouse Rosenthal) is a beautiful board book for little ones. As the title implies, it is all about how small acts of love and kindness can grow and bloom into something beautiful. (1-3yrs)
Perfect for pre-schoolers and children who have just started school, Be Kind (by Pat Zietlow Miller) is all about being kind in group dynamics and standing up for someone who needs support and compassion. (3-5yrs)
Is it more important to come first or to be kind? That’s the theme explored in Kim Hillyard’s engaging storybook Ned and the Great Garden Hamster Race. The illustrations and theme will appeal to slightly older children (and it’s a lot less sickly sweet than many book for teaching children kindness) but very little ones will also enjoy this story. (3-6ys)
Kind (by Alison Green) explores all the different ways we can be kind to each other, and how small gestures can have a really big impact. With contributions from lots of different amazing illustrators. (3-6yrs)
I could have listed this as a book about friendship but what I like most about Beatrice Blue’s Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire (in addition to the gorgeous artwork) is the central message that sometimes people’s unkindness is a cover for something different, and that when we meet unkindness with kindness, we can all move forward. (4-7yrs)
The Smile Shop (by Satoshi Kitamura) is such a sweet book, with beautifully detailed illustrations. Ultimately, it’s a simple story about how kindness can triumph over disappointment and other negative emotions and situations – but told in a way that young children can really identify with! (4-7yrs)
Another dragon book! This one has brilliant rhymes and more complex vocabulary that make it wonderful for reading out loud. The Story Book Knight (by Helen Docherty) subtly undermines the traditional knight vs. dragon tale, replacing animosity with the power of empathy and storytelling. The UK version is titled The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight (4-8yrs)
When it comes to older children, Wonder (by Palacio R.J.) hits the spot on all fronts. It promotes empathy (standing in someone else’s shoes and imagining what it is like to be them), it movingly illustrates the impacts of kindness and unkindness, and it shows children what kindness looks like in practice. A must read. (9-11yrs)
For more ideas on teaching children kindness, take a look at:
- Books for helping children manage friendship problems
- Children’s books about sibling rivalry
- Best books to teach children social skills (2-7yrs)
- Children’s books that celebrate diversity
- Children’s books about financial hardship
*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click through from this post to Amazon and buy one of these books, the Positive Parenting Project will receive a small fee. For more info, see Disclosure Notice. If you are going to buy a book, it is always worth shopping around at different booksellers for deals and checking your local library first.