When I was an LMC Director, I would have orientations for all of the classes at the beginning of the year. We would go over the behavior expectations for the library, as well as the “how-tos” of finding and checking out books. When it came to my expectations of the kids, I always emphasized the most important of those was kindness. The kindness principles included sharing with one another, being helpful to other kids and being respectful of each other’s feelings. The kids knew that I would tolerate many things in the library, but if I saw an unkind act, that was when there would be a consequence! I stressed that the most important thing they could do each day was to be kind to those around you. The kids who had been at Patterson since kindergarten or first grade (most of them) knew about my feelings, because they had heard and discussed many kindness picture books with me during their storytimes.
During those storytimes, I included a series of kindness picture books. I would often begin the series with Because Amelia Smiled, Lexile 760; AR 3.5. It’s a delightful story about the magic of a little girl’s smile and how that magic traveled the world. Another book with a similar theme is One Smile, AR 3.7. This is an enchanting story which describes how one little girl’s act of kindness can change lives. I would challenge the kids to try smiling at lots of people during the next week and then reporting back during the next storytime about the difference it made with others. Read aloud, kindness, circle story.
Then a few years ago a friend told me about a local author and her new book, A Girl with a Cape, by Amy Logan. Amy was inspired to write this book after becoming very concerned about adults lack of kindness and courtesy toward others. She is a big believer that children model adult behavior, so this was very distressing to her. She was also concerned about the bullying that was occurring in schools and increasing every year. Out of this concern, came the idea for her book. A Girl with a Cape is now one of my favorite examples of kindness picture books. It explains how a child’s little acts of caring and kind words, and an adult’s response and praise for those acts can add up to make a real difference. It’s also an excellent example of cause and effect. Kindness, cause and effect, read aloud.
Kindness picture books
I have compiled a list of kindness picture books that are great read alouds for all ages for home or for the classroom. Therefore, this list is directed at both parents and teachers. These books can prompt many discussions about kindness in the world, kindness at school and kindness at home and how it can begin with them, as well as discussions about bullying. I have included categories for each book in italics at the end of the summary to help you find the books that support your needs. Also, Lexile and AR levels, are listed, if available, but please remember these don’t apply to wordless picture books. Finally, I found all of these books in my public library and I hope you can do the same. However, I’ve included links for purchasing the books, if you would like to do that.
A Home for Bird, Lexile 360; AR 2.2, by Philip C. Stead. Vernon, the toad, finds a silent bird while foraging in the forest. The bird is sad and Vernon is determined to help him find his home. They travel great distances and visit many places before finding Bird’s home. Because Bird never speaks, there are lots of opportunities during the story to discuss what Bird is thinking and feeling. Feelings, read aloud, kindness.
How Kind by Mary Murphy, AR 1.1. A kind deed in the barnyard inspires a chain of kindness among the animals. pre-K, circle story, kindness.
The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Lexile 540; AR 3.1. The story begins with the retelling of the fable of The Lion and the Mouse, which leads to the class making an acts of kindness quilt after realizing what they do every day can be an act of kindness.
The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell, Lexile 610; AR 3.5. The giant monster teaches the three little monsters by example about gratitude. Read aloud, bullying, kindness, gratitude.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Lexile 640; AR 3.4. This book is a beautiful illustration of the impact that kindness can make in the world when a little girl learns that “each kindness makes the world a little bit better.” Read aloud, kindness, bullying.
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham. This book is great for a read aloud and gives the kids the opportunity to create a conversation for each page. The story describes a little boy’s kindness and his parents support as he helps a bird with a broken wing. Read aloud, wordless picture book, kindness.
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. This is a wordless picture book which will help an adult to initiate a conversation with a child about kindness. Wordless picture book, kindness.
Little Bird by Germano Zullo. This is another wordless picture book that is a very unusual story about generosity and kindness. It gives lots of opportunities for discussion due to the minimal amount of text and wonderful, expressive illustrations. Wordless picture book, kindness.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, Lexile 330; AR 3.2. In this story a little boy learns how to turn a “best enemy” into a best friend with his dad’s help. Read aloud, kindness, bullying.
Ben Rides On by Matt Davies, Lexile 730; AR 3.6. Ben’s act of kindness to a bully brings big rewards. This also includes a good bike safety message. Read aloud, bullying, kindness, bike safety.
Finally, a book I recently found while researching for this post, is Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen. This is a very simple, beautifully illustrated picture book with a soothing message to children that there are truly good people everywhere in their lives. Pre-K, kindness, read aloud, gratitude.
These are just a few of the wonderful kindness picture books. What are your favorites? What can I add to the list? Please let me know in the comments below.
On the blog: 14 Books to Help Your Child Be More Compassionate