Our ability to empathize with those who are different from ourselves is enhanced by the stories we tell. On this list, you’ll find everything from picture books for young readers to literary novels for adults about the value of showing kindness to others. There’s a book out there for every reader, no matter their age!
The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki
Research from Jamil Zaki’s own laboratory shows that empathy is not a permanent trait—something we’re born with or not—but rather a talent that can be enhanced through practice in this ground-breaking book. People who embody this new vision, battling for kindness in the most terrible of circumstances are also told by him.
We All Sing With the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene
In this songbook, children from all over the world are able to sing together. The verses in this book highlight the contrasts among the children depicted in the book’s pages. Singing in unison, the chorus unites all of the children, regardless of their various differences “We all have the same tone in our voice. Repeatedly. Indistinguishable tones. We all sing in unison and with one voice.”
Why Children as young as three will be captivated by the music, which also promotes a sense of global awareness and connection. This book honors the uniqueness of each person while they sing together as a group.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud
In this book, a “invisible bucket” concept is introduced, and the author believes that everyone possesses one. Positive sensations and thoughts about oneself can be stored in these containers. When you do something nice for someone else, you’re helping to fill their cup.
The Importance of This: This serves as a visual aid for children in understanding the significance of kindness. It emphasizes on how our activities affect other people, both favorably and badly. In the early stages of developing empathy, this book is a must-read.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead
A zookeeper who enjoys spending time with the animals and allows them to do what they want is the subject matter of this tale. When he is unable to work due to illness, the animals decide to pay him a visit.
The Importance of This Story: This touching tale illustrates the power of doing good deeds for others. When Amos is in need of a friend, the animals come to his rescue, and this demonstrates to children the value of being kind to others on a regular basis.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
How Chloe, who has been going to the school for a time, reacts to the arrival of a new student is the focus of this short story. Chloe treats Maya badly and keeps her out of the group activities. In the wake of Maya’s departure, Chloe is filled with regret.
In spite of the story’s lack of a joyful conclusion like many other books, it provides an important lesson. Every decision we make has a positive or negative impact on others, and we don’t always have the chance to repair our mistakes..
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
In this year’s Newbery Medal winner, a small boy named CJ travels home with his grandmother. A large portion of the voyage is occupied by CJ’s incessant “How come?” queries. Eventually, after his grandmother has patiently answered all of his questions, they get off the bus to help out at a soup kitchen.
When CJ asks his grandma seemingly innocuous questions throughout the novel, she always responds by evoking sympathy for the other characters. It’s a good reminder that everyone we meet has something to offer, but we have to be willing to listen and show compassion in order to discover what it is.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Is this a story about a little boy’s desire to own a pair of stylish shoes? Sadly, he and his family do not have the funds to make this desire come true. In the end, he buys the shoes despite the fact that they are too tight, when he finally finds them in a thrift shop in nearly pristine condition. The narrator’s feet wouldn’t fit in the nice shoes since another youngster in his class couldn’t afford new shoes. In this case, the narrator decides to part with his shoes in order to raise some money.
This book emphasizes the value of giving and making difficult decisions, which this book does. The narrator appears to be torn about whether or not he should actually give his shoes away, but in the end, he and the youngster who receives them are both happier for the experience.
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
Discovering an entire community on a tiny piece of dust is what this book is about. Horton is the only animal in the jungle that can hear the Whos thanks to his large ears. Because he believes it’s the proper thing to do, Horton remains by Whoville even when the other animals make fun of him.
Why Horton is doing the right thing, and he’s doing it while everyone else around him is encouraging him to quit up. This is crucial. This is a powerful example of how to stick up for what you believe in, no matter what comes your way. Advocating for those who don’t have a voice can also be discussed with older children using this book.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
This is a story about a young boy who is having a wonderful time this summer until his neighbor, Jeremy Ross, moves in next door. Jeremy doesn’t invite people to birthday parties, and he chuckles when they fail to hit a home run. To defeat Jeremy Ross, the narrator’s father bakes enemy pie. The lads must spend the entire day playing together in order for enemy pie to function. Ultimately, they become excellent friends and share a slice of pie.
Why It’s Relevant: This relates a classic tale about making snap judgments about individuals based on inconsequential things like the color of their hair. The two antagonists discovered that they got along very nicely after spending some quality time together.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson and Fumi Kosaka
In this tale, a typical teenage girl decides to go out and pick some blueberries for her next-door neighbor. Five other people receive blueberry muffins from the neighbor. There is a chain reaction of nice deeds performed by strangers for strangers. In the end, Mary receives a good deed from someone who was inspired by Mary’s blueberry harvesting.
The Importance of It: This is yet another book that illustrates the impact you can have on others and the ripple effect your actions can have.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
What It’s About: Brian is a calm boy who never complains or makes a lot of noise. He feels unnoticed in comparison to other students who draw the teacher’s attention by being overly boisterous, or to students who have a slew of friends and are therefore prioritized for extracurricular activities. When a new student joins the class, Brian feels less like an outsider.
This is critical since each child is unique. People come in all shapes and sizes. This book celebrates unique distinctions while emphasizing the need of including children of various backgrounds and abilities in games and activities.
The Three Questions by Jon J Muth
What It’s About: Nikolai is a young man who aspires to be a nice person, but he’s not always sure how to go about it. Three questions occupy his mind: When should I do this, when should I do that, and why? Who holds the most weight? So, what’s the proper course of action? His three animal companions lend a hand in figuring out the answers to these puzzles, although their methods differ slightly. He comes to understand that the best time is right now, that the person you’re with right now is the most important one, and that doing what’s right is good.
This book takes a more cerebral approach to helping others, but it would be an excellent beginning point for a discussion with older children about the importance of kindness.
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
This book is about a cake who is, to put it mildly, a bit of a jerk. He never says please or thank you, he doesn’t listen, and he doesn’t share well with other people. A gigantic cyclops wears him as a hat one day and takes the rude cake. Cake hates wearing a hat on a cyclops’s head. It’s a lot more courteous after you move away from the cyclops, the cake.
While the subject matter of this book is a bit unusual, it nonetheless demonstrates the power of excellent manners and etiquette in securing your goals.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The narrative of a boy and a tree who loved one other very much is told in this book, however the boy ends up stealing portions of the tree until the tree is reduced to a stump. The youngster (now an old man) and the stump sit together at the end of the book because they both need a seat.
Why It’s Important: This book illustrates how the boy’s acts had a profound impact on the tree’s compassion and friendliness. While kindness is necessary, you shouldn’t give up too much so that you’re hurting yourself. Teaching students the value of a strong, mutually beneficial connection can also be accomplished through the use of this strategy.