Teaching the little ones in our lives to be kind is important now, more than ever. Reading with young children – especially sharing stories that model inclusion and have empathy – is a fail-safe place to start.
Choose books full of kindness in action, books brimming with the big wide world, books bursting with experiences that are not your own and make reading together a habit – and you won’t go far wrong.
Here's our best picks of books to teach children about kindness at different ages.
Best children's books about kindness
Written & illustrated by Sophie Beer | Published by Caterpillar BooksKindness is doing what you can for others - and in this chunky board book ideal for little hands - Sophie Beer introduces us to a bunch of kids doing just that, building friendships as they go.
Written by Judy Carey Nevin | Illustrated by Susie Hammer | Published by Simon & Schuster What does kindness mean to you? Is it planting a seed? Or pushing a swing? Or sending a card? This little book about all the different ways to be kind packs a big punch and is perfect for toddlers.
Written by Patricia Hegarty | Illustrated by Greg Abbott | Published by Little Tiger BooksOne day a little mouse dreams of building a great big house. With the help of a whole host of friends from the forest, that dream comes true. Here, everyone is welcome, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Written & illustrated by Britta Tekentrup | Published by Caterpillar BooksThis beautifully-illustrated keepsake book with cut-out details will inspire the little ones in your life to plant seeds of kindness whenever they can.
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller | Illustrated by Jen Hill | Published by Pan MacmillanA New York Times bestseller, this picture book asks an essential question: what does it mean to be kind? When Tanisha spills her drink over her new dress, her classmate thinks hard about how to make her feel better.
Written & illustrated by Ed Vere | Published by Doubleday Books for Young ReadersWhen Leonard the lion befriends Marianne the duck, the other lions aren't happy at all. A celebration of being different and choosing kindness over everything else, this stunning modern classic confirms that we don't always have to roar to heard.
Written by Polly Ho-Yen | Illustrated by Binny Talib | Published by StripesLuna and Lenka are best friends despite the fact that they are total opposites. But one day they have an argument and things get tough. Perfect for younger readers as they transition from picture books, this story is a great teaching tool on the importance of empathy and the art of understanding others.
Written by Rob Kemp and Paul Blow | Published by Hodder & StaughtonA timely reminder that heroes should be celebrated for their kindness as well their strength, their generosity as well as their success – this essential guide book on the transformative power of empathy is perfect for children 10+ who want to change the world.
Written by Onjali Q Rauf | Published by Orion Children's BooksWarm and funny, this story for older children offers an important perspective on the refugee crisis and champions friendship, kindness, curiosity and bravery. The message here is crystal clear: in a world that doesn't always make sense, you can still be a good person.
Written by Loll Kirby | Illustrated by Adelina Lirius | Published by Abrams & Chronicle Books LtdWhat about being kind to our planet? Packed with examples of young people doing important work to beat climate change, this inspirational non-fiction book explains that the future of our planet starts with the change you can make and provoke, whatever your age.
Written by Ms Maria Claridge | Illustrated by Helen Yin | Independently PublishedThis is a children's story about being mixed race growing up. The story features an English-Japanese child called Maria navigating her way through school and making friends along the way. Author's Note: Maria hopes this book will help children feel not quite so lonely if they're feeling a bit different.
Kind Kids Book Club is a book club subscription service dedicated to delivering inclusive children's books with heart and nurturing social conscience in little people. We are on a mission to supply beautiful books that engage, empower and educate and inclusive stories that celebrate empathy, diversity and equality.