Teaching Compassion Through Reading – 12 Books That Can Make the Difference
Compassion is a trait kids must develop at an early age, while they are still toddlers. Whether it comes to compassion towards animals or other people, this trait will prove handy later on in life, helping children become better adults. While there are different ways and techniques in terms of teaching compassion, there are no doubts that a few good books will help you get the job done much easier. All in all, here are some of the best books for children to teach caring and compassion.
The Gift from Little Raccoon, by Carolyn Watson-Dubisch
Counting 24 pages, Carolyn Watson-Dubisch's most recent book is suitable for kids up to five years old. It makes a good bedtime story that your kid will most likely want to hear again every now and then. It is great for children as they learn reading as well, making a good starting point.
All in all, the story follows the so called Little Raccoon. He has a friend, known as the girl. However, the girl feels down lately. She barely leaves her home and she even starts missing school. The raccoon will have to find out what is wrong and find a way to make her happy again.
The book shows how important it is to look after friends and those around. The raccoon will have to find that one thing that makes his friend happy. While challenging, he manages to look after her and put a smile on her face again.
Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson
Maya is a new girl and while she tries to befriend Chloe, she keeps getting rejected. The answer is always negative, whether it comes to talking or playing together. Maya ends up playing by herself then. But then, one day she no longer shows up, so something must have gone wrong.
Chloe's teacher aims to teach kids about the importance of kindness. This is when Chloe realizes that she might have missed an important opportunity with Maya. What could have gone wrong if she actually let her in? She ends up trying to find answers to her rudeness.
The book features some beautiful illustrations from E. B. Lewis and brings in a deep story that will stir your little one's heart. Not only does it teach compassion, but it will also make your little one feel more open towards new friends.
Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller
This book is likely to make the difference for kids. It is suitable for kids up to five years old and it makes a good lesson in terms of teaching compassion, kindness and caring. It is the type of book that will make your little one reflect about it for hours after putting it down.
The book makes a pretty good statement – what does it really mean to be kind? Tanisha has a brand new dress. However, a moment of inattention ruins it, as she ends up spilling her grape juice all over the dress. Her day is obviously ruined, but this is when her friend steps in.
In the attempt to make her feel better, her friend shows incredible acts of kindness. Little stories go even further – from helping someone who gets bullied to asking a new child to come play, this book shows just how far kindness can get.
We're All Wonders, by R. J. Palacio
J. Palacio's book is based on a classic. Written by August Pullman, Wonder is a good story about teaching compassion and showing kindness. This book allows a younger audience to experience the same story in a simpler and easier way, full of illustrations from the author.
The text is quite spare and the book is fairly simple – mostly suitable for kids up to five years old. However, the message is powerful and will most likely make a difference. It introduces the reader to Auggie's world. He feels like other kids around, but others see him in a different way.
This book shows the importance of belonging, a feeling that most kids experience at an early age, mostly around the first years in school. It underlines the importance of being yourself, but it also discusses kindness, difference and empathy.
You, Me and Empathy, by Jayneen Sanders
Jayneen Sanders has written this book for both young kids and parents. It is suitable for toddlers and will also come with some sections for parents or carers – discussion questions and a few ideas to promote kindness among children.
The author agrees that empathy is one of the most important skills a kid can learn. Kids must understand how those around them feel. Once they recognize their feelings, they will be able to connect in a more meaningful manner, regardless of the culture or race.
This story is touching, but also exciting and interesting. It comes with verses, lots of illustration and Quinn – a little individual underlining empathy. Quinn teaches the readers about empathy by promoting all kinds of acts of kindness – a great power of example for those who go through this book.
Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boels
This book is written for children, but it hides some interesting messages and a good amount of wiseness. It brings in a series of pictures and simple text for every kid to understand. As for the story, it shows how a kid sees situations that may arise when least expected.
The story follows Jeremy. Jeremy is a good kid, but he wants a new pair of shoes. They are quite popular and everyone in school seems to have them, so Jeremy wants them too. However, Jeremy's grandmother does not buy things he wants, but things he actually needs.
When his current shoes break down, he asks again – he is even willing to grab a smaller size he finds in a thrift shop, only to be in trend. However, his sore feet are not too fun. Instead, Jeremy realizes that having warm and comfy feet and a caring grandmother could be more important.
Listening with My Heart, by Gabbi Garcia
This book follows Esperanza's story. As she wanders around, she finds a rock shaped like a heart. To her, it is a sign. From this point on, she must spread love and kindness in everything she does. She becomes the nicest person around and shows everyone how important it is to be kind.
But then, the school play goes wrong and Esperanza's reactions are not really the best. At this point, she realizes that she should give this rock to herself and perhaps make some changes. She realizes that the change begins with herself and not with others.
This book puts accent on themes like empathy, compassion and friendship. But at the same time, she will teach your little one about being friends with themselves. A bunch of fun illustrations comes to underline these messages. Plus, the book comes with some mindfulness exercises as well.
Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler, by Margery Cuyler
Mrs. Ruler's job is fun and enjoyable. She teaches in a kindergarten. But one of her classes is a bit messy one day and things go wrong. When nothing seems to work, Mrs. Ruler knows precisely what to do – she is about to come up with a new rule, helping others understand that kindness is cool.
One thing leads to another and everyone ends up engaged into various acts of kindness. The class has a bulletin board too, but it gets so big that it can barely fit inside the classroom. Small acts of kindness make the difference and kids get to understand it.
From cleaning tables after meals to helping older neighbors, kids show how far kindness can go. There are around 100 different acts that your kid can find inspiration for it. It will motivate kids of all ages to try to save the world – what can be better than that?
Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev
This is an international bestseller when it comes to teaching compassion in kids. This book for children has been translated in multiple languages and makes a good motivational story for your little one. A boy has a small pet elephant, but this unusual pet will cause a lot of trouble.
The local club for pets does not accept elephants, but he finds a quick solution – he finds a club that allows every kind of animal in the world. The local club does not really understand that pets can come in more sizes and shapes, so it only accepts cats, dogs and fish.
The book can be a bit sad at times, but it is also motivational. Apart from compassion, it will teach children what kindness truly means, but it will also underline the sense of friendship. The book is about inclusion and also describes the joy of having a pet – you better get ready to make a commitment.
A Chair for My Mother, by Vera Williams
This book is part of a bigger collection from Vera Williams. Once you go through it, chances are you will look for the rest of the collection too. All books are written for children and can help teaching them various traits – with compassion and kindness always coming first.
All in all, this book tells Rosa's story. The beginning is a bit sad. Rosa lives with her mother and grandmother. However, their house is destroyed by a fire. It looks like they have nothing left. But then, they are more motivated than ever and decide to start from scratch.
Initially, they start saving money to invest in comfort – a very comfortable chair for each of them to enjoy every now and then. The story feels basic, but it shows how important it is to be respectful and polite, whether it comes to family or just strangers around.
The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld
The Rabbit Listened comes with some irresistible illustrations that every kid out there will love. It has some spare, yet touching text. From some points of view, it could be a book about meditation on loss. From others, it can help parents, caregivers and tutors teach compassion.
Something bad happens and Taylor has no clue what to do next. He has no idea where to go or where to turn. Animals around him seem to have all the answers and try to advice him. The bear believes Taylor should be a bit angry, while the chicken wants to talk about it.
All animals disappoint Taylor, until the rabbit shows up. The rabbit does not have any advice for Taylor though. He only wants to listen and this is exactly what Taylor truly needed. The story is unforgettable and moving – it makes a good choice in the wake of a problem, but it is also great to teach kindness.
The Big Umbrella, by Amy June Bates
You cannot go wrong with Amy June Bates' masterpiece. The book is subtle, but it has a strong message, mostly about compassion and inclusion. It relies on an umbrella to teach kids what compassion and kindness truly mean, especially when it comes to someone who is different.
The book is written and illustrated in a collaboration with the author's 11 year old daughter. The story is about an umbrella. It is right by the door. It is massive, so everyone can go under it when it starts raining. It makes no difference how tall or fat you are, how big your hair is or how many arms and legs you have.
No matter what you are like, you should never worry about being left outside. There will always be a bit of extra room under this umbrella. The story is quite basic, but the lyrical text underlines some deep messages about compassion and tolerance.
Bottom line, these are some of the best books you could get if teaching compassion in children is your main goal. It makes no difference if you need it for your own children, you run a class or you are a caregiver. Emerge yourself into a new experience and show the little ones around you how far kindness and compassion can go.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.