Talking about kindness with kids is essential no matter what grade you teach. Whether you’re gearing up to celebrate World Kindness Day on November 13, or you’re simply on a mission to make kindness part of the ongoing conversation in your classroom, excellent kindness books are always helpful. Check out this list of favorite picture books about kindness to add to your shelves.
1. Boo Who? by Ben Clanton
It can be hard to find ways to include someone new—especially when that someone is invisible—but it’s worth the effort. Simple and sweet, it’s easy for kids to “see” the possible connections between this story and their own lives.
Buy it: Boo Who? on Amazon
2. The Together Tree by Aisha Saeed
When Rumi moves to a new school, far away from his friends in San Francisco, he sits under a tree alone at recess. When one student decides to reach out to him, others follow. Add this to your kindness books about peer relationships.
Buy it: The Together Tree on Amazon
3. The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back by Jonathan Stutzman
A mouse’s tiny house expands to welcome all the forest creatures who need shelter—even an intimidating bear. This heartwarming gem of a tale can be appreciated on different levels by kids of all ages. It’s one of those kindness books you’ll want to share widely.
Buy it: The Mouse Who Carried a House On His Back on Amazon
4. The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
Being kind means making space for everyone, as this “big, friendly umbrella” shows. Read it, and then leave an umbrella propped by your classroom door as a reminder to be inclusive.
Buy it: The Big Umbrella on Amazon
5. The Sound of Kindness by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
A child and adult go on a walk around the neighborhood and notice the kind words they hear. Add this to your kindness books to frame a group discussion. Students will be eager to use the speech bubbles and illustrations to infer all the different situations that are made better with kindness. The back matter is full of ideas for “kindness walks” to take with kids.
Buy it: The Sound of Kindness on Amazon
6. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
A girl tries to follow her mother’s advice to “be kind” when others tease a classmate, but her attempt doesn’t help … at first. Talk with students about how kindness can gain momentum over time.
Buy it: Be Kind on Amazon
7. The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts by Trudy Ludwig
So often, kids feel like their small actions—or lack of action—don’t matter. But “One, after all, is the starting point for change.” One child’s act of kind outreach plants the seed for more. The illustrations tell most of this story, making them perfect for chatting about with partners during a read-aloud. The author’s note challenges kids to plant their own seeds of kindness.
Buy it: The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts on Amazon
8. My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott
It’s important to share kindness books that ask children to discover the themes about kindness in the story on their own. A boy’s grandmother takes care of him before and after school every day at her tiny house and garden. When her house gets torn down, she moves in with the boy and his parents. He remembers what once made her the happiest and tries to return the care and kindness she gave him. Absolutely gorgeous writing!
Buy it: My Baba’s Garden on Amazon
9. The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad
A girl thinks over her teacher’s assignment, “What kind of world do you want?” and dreams of a kind world. On school picture day, a friend kindly lends a sash so she can match her sister’s hijab in their sibling picture. Add this to your kindness books to get kids talking during class conversations about kindness.
Buy it: The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship on Amazon
10. Most People by Michael Leannah
This title is a lovely tool for reassuring children that the world is full of kind people with good intentions. Diverse illustrations highlight the kindness of “most people.”
Buy it: Most People on Amazon
11. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Teach children that no one is too small to be kind with this timeless fable, reimagined by a masterful illustrator.
Buy it: The Lion and the Mouse on Amazon
12. The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
A simple assignment leads to a school-wide kindness-fest. We guarantee students will be asking to make their own Kindness Quilt by the end of the story.
Buy it: The Kindness Quilt on Amazon
13. Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
Mrs. Ruler is to kindness what Ms. Frizzle is to science. Instead of punishing kids who act up in class, she challenges them to find opportunities to be kind.
Buy it: Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler on Amazon
14. I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
This wordless story of how one child wrestles with the decision to become an ally, and her eventual impact, is a powerful one. The back matter provides some helpful talking points for class discussion.
Buy it: I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness on Amazon
15. How To Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
No one notices a hurt pigeon except young Will, who takes it home and tenderly nurses it back to health. This story celebrates the capacity of children to provide kind, gentle care.
Buy it: How To Heal a Broken Wing on Amazon
16. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
CJ’s wise and patient grandmother shows him that kindness lives in both one’s mindset and their actions in this quietly evocative award winner.
Buy it: Last Stop on Market Street on Amazon
17. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards
How do you acknowledge the efforts of someone who is perennially kind? Return the kindness, of course. Little Sophia sets out to show Mrs. Goldman how much the neighborhood appreciates her handmade gifts.
Buy it: A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love on Amazon
18. Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine
When a man steals the lemons Rosalinda and her family intended to sell at the market, a wise advisor encourages her to be empathetic. Invite students to consider responding to others’ transgressions with kindness.
Buy it: Under the Lemon Moon on Amazon
19. The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
This beautifully illustrated saga of a greedy king’s transformation into a traveling ambassador of kindness will keep students captivated until the last page.
Buy it: The Quiltmaker’s Gift on Amazon
20. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Jeremy’s quest for a pair of “those shoes” that his family can’t afford doesn’t end as he originally hopes, but it does create an opportunity to be kind. This is one of the classic kindness books that is a mirror for some students and an important window for others.
Buy it: Those Shoes on Amazon
21. One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
For Farah, everything feels new. Her classmates’ small acts of kindness go a long way toward making her feel like she belongs.
Buy it: One Green Apple on Amazon
22. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
This classroom must-have shows how another’s kind acts can mean the difference between feeling unseen and living in full color.
Buy it: The Invisible Boy on Amazon
23. Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving by John Frank
This diverse collection of poems offers plenty of concrete examples of kindness, from keeping an elderly neighbor company to encouraging a struggling classmate to paying it forward.
Buy it: Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving on Amazon
24. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson never fails to give us lumps in our throats. When you’re ready to take your class discussion of kindness to a more nuanced level, share one of the best kindness books we wish we’d shown, and the opportunity to make a change.
Buy it: Each Kindness on Amazon
25. The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness From the Border by Stephen Briseño
Kindness can bring light even in the darkest of times. When Noemí and her mother reach the Mexico-U.S. border near Tijuana, they meet the notebook keeper, a volunteer who helps keep track of waiting refugees and lets them know when it is their day to plead their cases for asylum. While she and her mother wait, Noemí finds her own ways to bring kindness to others; be sure to ask kids to study the illustrations for examples. Share the back matter to build kids’ background knowledge about the nonfiction roots of this story.
Buy it: The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness From the Border on Amazon
26. Human Kindness: True Stories of Compassion and Generosity That Changed the World by John Francis
This comprehensive nonfiction resource on kindness includes the research and stories from “Planetwalker” John Francis. It would be ideal to share bit by bit with upper elementary or middle school kids, or for small groups to dive into different sections.