• Helping Kids Rise

Kindness Matters: Diverse Children's Books that Teach Kindness and Empathy

Updated: Feb 17


Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

One small act of kindness can change the world and one book can be the spark that ignites that act of kindness. Kindness and empathy are one of the greatest needs in our world and thankfully these skills can be taught. These amazing books featuring diverse characters, teach children how being kind can really change the world.

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud." ~Dr. Maya Angelou

Meesha loves making things, but she finds it hard to make friends. This new title in the Big Bright Feelings series by Tom Percival is the perfect picture book for helping children understand how to be accepting of others.


Meesha doesn't know quite what to do, what to say, or when to say it, and she struggles reading and responding to social cues. But one day, she discovers that she has a special talent that will help her navigate challenging social situations and make friends.


A warm and affectionate look at the joys and difficulties of making and keeping friends, relating to others, and finding your place in the world, Meesha Makes Friends is an empowering and resonant new title in the Big Bright Feelings series.


The Big Bright Feelings picture books provide kid-friendly entry points into emotional intelligence topics--from being true to yourself, to worrying, to anger management, to making friends. These topics can be difficult to talk about. But these books act as sensitive and reassuring springboards for conversations about mental and emotional health, positive self-image, building self-confidence, and managing feelings.



Those Shoes Childrens Books about Kindess

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small.

But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.





Childrens Books about Kindness

You, Me, and Empathy: Teaching children about empathy, feelings, kindness, compassion, tolerance and recognizing bullying behaviors.

One of the most important social skills a child can learn is empathy. Being able to understand how another person is feeling and recognizing their needs helps people to connect to one another across race, culture and the diversity that is ever-present and so important to our world. This charming story uses verse, beautiful illustrations and a little person called Quinn to model the meaning of empathy. Throughout the story, Quinn shows an abundance of understanding, compassion and kindness towards others. Showing empathy towards others is a learnt trait, and one to nurture and cherish with the children in our care. Also included are Discussion Questions for parents, caregivers and educators, and suggested activities to promote empathy and kindness.




MARKET STREET This award-winning modern classic--a must-have for every child's home library--is an inclusive ode to kindness, empathy, gratitude, and finding joy in unexpected places, and celebrates the special bond between a curious young Black boy and his loving grandmother.

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn't he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty--and fun--in their routine and the world around them.

This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Peña's vibrant text and Christian Robinson's radiant illustrations.


Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.


Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn't mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.


But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.






A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend... Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource. Includes back matter with discussion questions and resources for further reading.


Each kindness makes the world a little better With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they've put it down.

Chloe and her friends won't play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe's teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she'd shown a little kindness toward Maya.










This heartwarming true story about one lost cat's journey to be reunited with his refugee family gently introduces children to a difficult topic and shows how ordinary people can help with compassion and hope. When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they can’t bear to leave their beloved cat, Kunkush, behind. So they carry him with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away. But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs from the chaos. In one moment, he is gone. After an unsuccessful search, his family has to continue their journey, leaving brokenhearted. A few days later, aid workers in Greece find the lost cat. Knowing how much his family has sacrificed already, they are desperate to reunite them with the cat they love so much. A worldwide community comes together to spread the word on the Internet and in the news media, and after several months the impossible happens—Kunkush’s family is found, and they finally get their happy ending in their new home. This remarkable true story is told by the real people involved, with the full cooperation of Kunkush’s family.

Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There's the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There's the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there's the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo--walking the same path, going to the exact same place--Milo realizes that you can't really know anyone just by looking at them.


National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpr Illustrator Award winner Rafael L pez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.


There will be times when you walk into a room

and no one there is quite like you.


There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.


Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael L pez's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.


This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other's well-being in their everyday actions.


Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.


In our classroom safe and sound.

Fears are lost and hope is found.


Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.


Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other's traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.


"An important book that celebrates diversity and inclusion in a beautiful, age-appropriate way." - Trudy Ludwig, author of The Invisible Boy


Childrens books about kindess Wishtree Katherine Applegate

Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.


With the addition of a brand-new author's note, this special edition celebrates the tenth anniversary of this classic book. As always, Woodson moves readers with her lyrical narrative, and E. B. Lewis's amazing talent shines in his gorgeous watercolor illustrations.




This bright book by the creator of Love Makes a Family celebrates acts of kindness big and small.


Kindness is a friendly hello. A roaring cheer. A quick boost. Kindness is what makes us strong! This joyful board book shows various children as they extend kindness in all kinds of situations: on the playground, at lunchtime, on a bike path, and on a neighborhood street. This sweet preschool read-aloud shows the way kindness helps build friendship and community.





Which other diverse books that we should add to our list? We'd love to hear about them!

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