Acts of kindness sometimes feel like they are in short supply when we as a society are so often bombarded by negative stories. But if you look for it, you will see that kindness can be found in many places. Children don’t always know how to show kindness, but they can learn through our examples. It’s important to model kind behavior and to be mindful of what we say to and about others. Setting examples of how to show gratitude and sharing encouraging words, as well as modeling how to feel empathy for others are wonderful ways to teach kind behavior. Sharing picture books with children about kindness is also a great way to provide different perspectives and methods of showing kindness. Through these stories, children will see how even small gestures of kindness can leave a lasting impression on others and how kind acts often multiply as the kindness is paid forward. There are many fantastic books about kindness in our library, that when shared with children, can lead to wonderful discussions on how we can choose to act with kindness in our own lives. The following are some of my favorite picture books about kindness.
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
Tanisha spills juice on her outfit at school and gets laughed at by other children. One of her classmates feels bad when she sees that happen and wants to try to make her feel better. This leads her classmate to ponder what it means to be kind and to wonder how she can help. Readers are taken through a series of thoughts on ways to be kind in small ways, and then shown how those simple acts of kindness can have a ripple effect that touches even more lives.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
This story shows acts of kindness through sharing, generosity, and gratitude.The delicious aroma of the stew Omu spends her day making, fills the air and lures neighbors and community members over one after another for a sample. Omu is happy to share, as she has plenty to go around, but when dinnertime arrives there is none left for her! Her disappointment is short-lived as everyone she had shared with that day arrives to thank her with gifts and food, and they all share the best meal ever together.
The Someone New by Jill Twiss
Jitterbug the chipmunk prefers for things to stay the same. When Pudding the snail shows up wanting to move into the forest neighborhood after his home was destroyed, Jitterbug worries things will change. Pudding looks different, and is a stranger from somewhere far away. Jitterbug’s friends remind her that they were once new, and everything turned out okay. Jitterbug decides to show kindness through empathy and acceptance, and welcomes Pudding to move into their neighborhood.
This is a wordless picture book with expressive illustrations about a child witnessing a classmate, Vanessa, getting bullied by another child. She feels sad about what happened, until the following morning when she has the idea to walk Vanessa to school. As they are walking together, other students join them and show Vanessa they accept her and support her. Readers will see how one small act of kindness can lead others to join in, creating a powerful impact. There are also great discussion points in the back of the book about ways to deal with bullying.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Jeremy really wants a pair of shoes that everyone else seems to have. His grandmother tells him there’s only room in the budget for needs, but he manages to score a pair for a great price at a thrift store. They are too small for him though, and he continues to struggle with his desire to fit in. He eventually decides to generously give them to his friend who really needed a new pair of shoes, and he feels great about it when he sees how happy they make him.
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
A simple act of kindness leads to a chain reaction of good deeds in this story. Amelia’s smile has an impact on Mrs. Higgins, who is then reminded of her grandson. She is urged to bake some cookies and send them to him. This leads to a series of more acts of kindness and positive events that spread throughout the world, and return full circle to Amelia. We may not know how our kind actions are paid forward, but the kindness can spread far. This is a fun story that shows how that can happen.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Brian feels invisible at school when the other children don’t include him in activities. When a new student arrives, Brian shows him kindness while the other students are slow to accept him. The two become friends, and the other students begin to warm up to both of them. There are questions for discussion in the back of the book to help children think about times they’ve felt excluded or maybe excluded others, as well as ideas for how they could help others to feel valued and appreciated.