14 Books to Help your Child be More Compassionate

November 11, 2016

compassion books

It’s been a rough week and a rough year in our country. No matter, which side you are on, you can’t help but be concerned about what has been said during the past year and how our kids have been exposed to it. Even if we do our best to protect them from the media, they go to school or to sports or to art classes and they hear things we wish they hadn’t. They ask questions, just as we are, about what happens now? If they are older, they may even be anxious. You may be asking, as I am, how can we help them? How can we help our country?

Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers.

 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

After much thought, I realized that the answer, for me, is that I can continue doing what I’ve been doing. I can help you find some children’s books about compassion, kindness and caring to share with your kiddos that might answer their questions, and will definitely lead to some discussions about how they can become helpers. I can assist you in finding some books that will help to instill the values in our children that the world needs to create change, such as the values of kindness, respect, acceptance of differences, compassion and empathy. By doing this, I will try to be one of the helpers, just as Fred Rogers said.

 We don’t know what will happen next, which is always a little scary, but I have faith in the American people, that we will “choose kind”. By working together, we can help our children grow up to be one of the helpers.

I have compiled a list of some childrens books about compassion and caring that I think might be just right for now. Many thanks to Pernille Rip for sharing some of the titles on Instagram, and for inspiring not only the kids in her classroom, but the readers of her blog. She inspired me to write this post about children’s stories about compassion.

Helping Books for Now

compassionate children's books

Seeds of Freedom, The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama, by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

We can work together peacefully to make big changes. “It starts with one person; that could be you.”

Good People Everywhere, by Lynea Gillen and illustrated by Kristina Swarner.

“Today millions and millions of people will do very good things. And so will you. I wonder what you will do?”

Courage by Bernard Waber

“Courage is what we give to each other.” Something we all need to become a helper.

compassionate children's books

Guess How Much I love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

To help reassure our little ones, even if they are sensing our anxiety, that they are loved “right up to the moon – and back.”

Arthur’s Perfect Christmas by Marc Brown

Arthur learns that his friends may celebrate the holidays differently, but they all find joy.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

This charming story will help your little ones understand about apologies and how important they are in a caring world.

compassionate children's books

What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele, illustrated by Ashley Bryan

This beautifully illustrated version of the song made famous by Louis Armstrong, reassures children that there is beauty and kindness in our world.

Love Will See You Through by Angela Farris Watkins, PhD, illustrated by Sally Were Comport

This is Martin Luther King Jr.’s six guiding beliefs, as told by his niece. “Uncle Martin was a man of peace. Love was his way of life. … His life was proof that love will see you through.”

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

This little boy and his elephant show everyone the true meaning of friendship. Friends “help each other, lift each other over cracks, brave the scary things with you, and never leave anyone behind.” May our kiddos find friends, as well as be one.

compassionate children's books

My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Ann Tanksley

Kedi, although she and everyone else in her African village have very little, is inspired to help the children of New York City during the depression, because her heart “will not sit down.” Perhaps Kedi’s story will inspire your little ones’ hearts “to not sit down”, so that they will want to help those around them in a way that they can.

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith

A little girl walks through a gray city with her distracted father and picks flowers along the way. The flowers become gifts to those she encounters, and in the process transforms the city and it’s inhabitants. May your children find beauty in their world and share it with others.

Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith

Abraham Lincoln is restless. He wasn’t finished with everything he dreamed of doing for the country in 1865. A little girl takes his ghost on a tour of the country to reassure him that the country is united, however the people of the country still “fuss’n fight with his fellow man. We’re still working on that one,” she replies. This illustrates the fact that our leaders want to do their very best for our country.

compassionate children's booksBe a Friend by Salina Yoon

The story of Dennis and Joy, how they express themselves and the friendship that follows will encourage your children to reach out to others and to “be a friend.”

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

This delightful story celebrates love even though “we’ll change how it’s done”, says worm. It will help your children understand that love is love!

It’s now been a few days since the election and everyone is relaxing a bit. I hope, as questions arise in your families in the days and weeks to come, these “helping books” will lead you to some answers. I also hope you’ll share your ideas about helping books in the comments below. What are your favorites? I’d love to hear about them!

For more books about kindness and compassion, please link to my previous post:

Kindness Picture Books for Kids

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More about Susan

Hi! I'm Susan, a wife, a mom and a recently retired elementary school librarian with 22 years of experience. One of my greatest joys is to connect kids with a perfect book, which then leads them to a lifelong love of learning. Through my blog, I'm hoping to reach parents, their children and teachers to help them find those special books. I’m also hoping to offer some tips and techniques to use with your children as you read aloud.

I appreciate your comments!

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