Looking for children’s books about kindness and empathy?
Most parents give a lot of importance to character traits like kindness and empathy. We look at these values as a key attribute in well-rounded individuals.
A good time to start talking about values like kindness and empathy is around age 3. By then most children are past the toddler tantrum stage and are beginning to understand their own emotions.
The most effective way to guide children is to model behavior for them. If you do not show kindness and empathy in your day-to-day interactions with those around you, don’t expect your children to pick up these values either.
In a recently published paper in Psychological Science, it was shown how even something as simple as the parent making non-verbal expressions of disapproval, scowling, and using an unfriendly voice with an individual is caught on immediately by 4 and 5-year-olds. And moments later the children are behaving in a manner similar to the adults, showing a similar bias towards that individual.
All parenting starts with self-work.
It is great to introduce these books and encourage kindness but remember your children are watching and learning more from you.
I want to share a powerful quote by Janet Lansbury on this subject that influenced the way I parent, “Our words matter far less to our children than what we actually think and feel. Our children are the most sensitive, receptive and perceptive audience we will ever encounter, and for them, our feelings and attitudes are transparent and contagious.”
CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT KINDNESS AND EMPATHY
The story follows a young Korean girl who has just landed in America. She is the new kid in her school and quite awkward and anxious. When no one can pronounce her name on the bus ride to school she decides to tell her new classmates that she has not yet chosen her name. Her classmates help out and what follows next is a warm story about accepting and loving one’s heritage.
In classic Julia Donaldson’s style, this rhyme-story is about a kind Giant, who goes out of his way to help those in need. The end of the story is thoughtful and beautiful. One of my personal favorite bedtime stories to read to our son.
Another Julia Donaldson book that creatively weaves a story around kindness. A clumsy witch keeps losing her things and meeting new characters along the way. Each time she agrees to offer a ride to these characters. When a dragon tries to capture the witch, these characters she has met on her way, come to her rescue. What I love about Room on the Broom is how Julia Donaldson has gone against the typical evil witch narrative and portrayed the protagonist as a warm, friendly, and gracious host.
A great book for preschoolers. At an age when children are just beginning to understand friendships and relationships, You, Me and Empathy show the reader different situations as examples with phrases on what to say and how to help when someone needs you.
CJ wonders why his grandma takes him to a nearby soup kitchen every Sunday after church. He is grumpy and unhappy about the arrangement. On one such bus ride to the soup kitchen, he finally sees things through his grandmother’s perspective.
A beautiful story that encourages young children to put themselves in another’s shoes.
The wondrous road ahead is a personalized adventure book. You can choose three qualities that you feel matter the most to you and your child and build a story that celebrates your child.
My sister in law gifted this custom storybook to our son for his birthday. She chose the qualities of Kindness, Curiosity, and Determination to build the story. The book came out wonderfully, with beautiful illustrations and a strong story that brings across the point to the child. Our son loves his story. I would highly recommend such a custom story as a birthday gift. Check Wonderbly Books here.
This wonderful book shows children it is okay to make a mistake, to say sorry, and how one can show kindness to others. The cute illustrations grab the child’s attention and make a good read at bedtime.
A book that shows you a school with children from all backgrounds working and playing together side by side. These types of books are a great conversation starter to talk about diversity and how there is strength in our diversity.
I love this book for its message, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
A grandfather imparts his wisdom to his grandson about The Golden Rule that features in all of the different cultures around the world. It is a simple rule that most of us ignore in our day to day interactions with each other.
A beautiful story by PJ Library about two neighbors, An ant, and a cricket. The cricket does not prepare ahead for his Shabbat meal. After borrowing ingredients from the ant to bake his Shabbat cake, he realizes she burnt her own Shabbat cake. In return for her kindness, he visits her house for Shabbat with a surprise in hand, the cake he baked! A beautiful story about friendship and giving.
Which children’s books on kindness would you recommend? Do let me know in the comments below.