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15 Books for Teaching Kindness to Kids

We often tell our students to, “Be Kind.” But when I think long and hard about it…What am I doing to help teach my students how to be kind and empathetic? 

A Harvard Psychologist determined that children can grow up to be kind, empathetic human beings, if they are shown how {Check out the 5 Tips for Cultivating Empathy} Like so many other skills, children often model what we do – so be kind! Children need to try out being empathetic – so give them the opportunities!

One very easy way we can start the discussion of being kind is to read books and put into practice what we read.  Below, I’m sharing my favorite books and a few activities that will help teach your students to be kind!

We all know the importance of just listening to a book! However, it’s always a bonus when we can teach our students something with the book we’ve chosen, right?!

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Books to Show Kindness in Action

It’s really easy to tell kids to be kind! These books all give real-world ways for students to put our advice into practice.

Finding Kindness

This is a brand-new book that shows kindness in action in small ways – a ladder to rescue a cat or a card from a friend. The illustrations are delightful!

Be Kind

Be Kind is a beautiful book that gives children do-able actions for spreading kindness.

Come With Me

After being inundated with the bad news she hears each day, a young girl asks her mom and dad how she can help make the world a better place.

Be Kind

I am obsessed with the illustrations in Be Kind! This book isn’t a traditional read-aloud. Instead, it’s a collection of actionable ideas for children to spread kindness in small ways throughout the day. I’ve added it to our classroom library for the students to peruse when they’re looking for an idea!

Kindness Starts with You

This book follows a girl named Maddy throughout her school day, showing how easy it is to be kind. There’s also a sequel to this book that follows a girl named Emily around town as she shows kindness to others.

Books to Encourage Standing Up for Others

It’s often hard to be an upstander but the more that your students hear about it, the more likely they’ll be to stand up for others.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

I’ve been reading Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon since my early days of teaching. I just love that quiet and determined little Molly! Even when faced with a bully, Molly makes the choice to be kind and eventually wins him over.

Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone made my list for two reasons:

1. The puns are on point and you know I love me some puns!
2. This story focuses on the power of standing up for others.

Strictly No Elephants

This book sat in my library for a long time before I ever picked it up to read aloud to my class. What was I waiting for? This darling story highlights the importance of sticking up for your friends and encourages embracing differences.

Nerdy Birdy

Nerdy Birdy emphasizes that it’s okay to be different and people should still treat you with kindness. The illustrations are so sweet and kids can’t get enough of this fun book!

I Walk with Vanessa

This book gives me chills. There are no words in this book but the pictures so beautifully illustrate the young girl witnessing someone getting bullied and how she stands up and does the right thing.

The back of the book includes advice for adults and children to use when they see someone getting bullied.

Books for Seeing the Good in Others

It’s often hard to see the good when you feel bad or see bad going on. These books make it easy.

We’re All Wonders

I love that R.J. Palacio turned her incredible Wonder book into a story geared for the younger kiddos. I have an extension activity for We’re All Wonders HERE!

Good People Everywhere

Good People Everywhere focuses on the good that is happening around the world at this very moment. The beautiful illustrations highlight nurses helping people, builders mending fences, and teachers helping students. It helps remind children that there are good people in the world.

Books that Teach Karma

When I was a child and I’d complain about something that I felt was unfair or unjust, my parents would always say, “What goes around, comes around.” As I’ve grown up, they weren’t kidding! Ha!

Plant a Kiss

I love this book! The theme of the book is sprinkling kindness in the world…and expecting nothing back! And of course, Amy Krause Rosenthal’s books are always perfect and Peter H. Reynold’s illustrations always make things better.

Most People

This book reminds children that most people are good. And most people want to do the right thing. It’s not really about Karma, but I just love the message!

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

This is the ultimate “What Goes Around Comes Around” story! Penelope Rex begins kindergarten and has trouble making {human} friends and doesn’t like when her classmates begin to treat her the way that she’s been treated her! I just love the illustrations {and message, of course!}

Activities to Extend Kindness

I have two fun ideas for promoting kindness in your classroom, at school, at home, and beyond!

First up, I just created Checking in on Kindness.  These checklists have 15 ideas for students to do each month in the spirit of helping others. I’ve also included an editable file for you to create your own lists if you’d prefer.

Checking in on Kindness | Kindness Checklists for Kids! {Lucky to Be in First}

As students do a good deed, they simply check it off!

Checking in on Kindness is available in The Lucky Store.

Another fun and simple idea to increase kindness around your school is to print out some Kindness Challenge Tear Away posters and hang around your classroom, hallways, and staff room! To make ’em more eye-catching, definitely print onto Astrobrights cardstock!

You can find the Kindness Challenge Tear Aways in the Lucky Shop.

What are your favorite books and ways to spread kindness in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!

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