When you raise a child to be kind, empathetic, and emotionally smart, it’s not easy. During the pandemic, a lot of chances to socialize went away. I think these are hard times because of that. 10 books for kids about empathy are a good choice if you want to teach your child how to be aware of the feelings of other people.
Picture Books About Empathy for Young Readers
Kids who are in preschool and elementary school will love these books about how to be kind.
Kindness Rocks by Sonica Ellis
When Clara is young, she is very interested in nature and likes to collect rocks that are very pretty. Instead of keeping them for herself, she paints positive messages on them and leaves them in the woods for other people to find, so they can be happy too. Sheldon the turtle is having a bad day until he finds two of Clara’s creations and they make him happy again. They make him feel much better. They are going to tell the animals in the forest about them soon, so that everyone can enjoy them. They start to look for new ones.
As soon as Clara moves away, the animals don’t look for the stones. It doesn’t take long for Sheldon to figure out that there are ways he, too, can make the people in his neighborhood happy. There, he starts to write his own messages that will help others. You could start by reading this book to a child, and then help them make their own kindness rocks. After that, you could give them to your friends and neighbors for some fun that isn’t close to home.
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
Taylor is having a hard time, but he will get through it. It’s hard for Taylor to explain why he’s sad to his animal friends. They all have their own ideas about what he should do. What Taylor really needs is someone to listen to him and try to understand what he’s going through instead of giving him solutions.
This is a great story to tell your child to help them understand why it’s important to let other people speak their minds and feelings.
Empathy Is Your Superpower: A Book About Understanding the Feelings of Others by Cori Bussolari and Zach Greszkowiak
This book shows kids how to be more empathetic so they can do the same thing in their own lives. Bussolari wants people to figure out how someone is feeling based on situations, facial expressions, and other things. In the next step, she asks the group to think about how they can comfort and encourage each other. Comforting sick or hurt people, making people feel like they belong, and giving resources to people who need them all fall under the scenarios that kids will likely face at home or school. When you read this book about empathy for kids, you’ll find a lot of thoughtful questions that will help you connect with your young reader in new and interesting ways. For parents and other people who work with kids, there’s a section at the back with activities for building empathy that were made by a school psychologist who is qualified to do so.
Inspire Kindness : A Rhyming Read Aloud Story Book for Kids About Kindness and Empathy by Lily Lopez
Lily is afraid of going to a new school. A lot of her classmates don’t look like her, and she hasn’t learned enough English yet to fit in. On her first day, everything seems to go wrong. Tilly is the only person who seems to like her. Her new friend gave her a smile and kind words to help her get through the day.
In the back of the book, there are 25 acts of kindness that you and your child can do together. You talked about how Tilly helped Lily feel like a part of the group.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and Noah Z. Jones
A lot of his classmates at school have cool new shoes. But his grandmother can’t afford them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when his own shoes fall apart, his classmates make fun of him. They give him free shoes from the guidance counselor instead.
When Jeremy finally goes to a thrift store, he finally finds a pair of the cool shoes. A friend’s shoes have been taped together soon, though. This is what he comes up with: He gives the cool shoes to his friend, who needs them more than he does. Friendship, giving, and the difference between needs and wants are all in this book.
Being Kind: Lesson on kindness, empathy and inclusion by Brenda Li
One act of kindness can lead to many more. This book talks about that. At school, Dot tries to cheer up a sick neighbor and help a mailman who dropped their bag. When Dot makes people smile, he smiles as well. So he decides to be kind all day long. At school, he has another chance when he asks a new student named Bonnie if she wants to play a game with him.
How good it felt to be included made Bonnie start giving back as soon as she can. Finally, someone that Dot helped does something nice for her, making everything come full circle.
Children’s Books About Empathy for Older Kids
If you’re looking for books for older kids who like to read, give these books about empathy a try.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai
During the Vietnam War, Hà and her family have to move away from their home. It’s hard for them to make the transition. Everything she’s ever known is gone at once. When Hà reads poetry, she talks about the sadness that comes with moving to a new country. People who bully and people who are homesick both take a toll.
This book is a great way to talk about how to be there for people when they are going through grief, uncertainty, and change.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
He doesn’t like his new neighbor, Leslie. Jess Aarons is in fifth grade. He worked on his run time all summer so he could be faster than his friends, but she still beats him. They become friends over time. She’s the new kid in town and he’s the misfit at school, but when they work together, they find comfort from the loneliness they feel.
When Leslie dies without warning, Jess feels a deep sense of loss. As he mourns, people in his life, like his younger sister, show him compassion and love.
Junonia by Kevin Henkes
For her birthday, Alice goes to the same cottage in Florida every year and stays there. It will be fun for her to see old friends from her trips and have a big birthday party when she turns 10. It doesn’t take long for Alice to figure out that her expectations and reality don’t match up.
Shows how empathy from others can help you deal with sadness and change.
Children’s Graphic Novels About Empathy and Friendship
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
The best friend Shannon has ever had is called Adrienne, and she has been with her since she was little. Then Adrienne became more interested in being popular than having a best friend, so that’s when things changed. When you want to be on Jen’s good side, you have to be mean to people who aren’t in your group. With Adrienne, Shannon often finds herself in the line of fire when she tries to keep in touch with her