Due to the current political climate, kindness and empathy are more important than ever. We know, however, that books can change a reader’s perspective and open a reader’s mind to a different world, a different culture, and a different way of life. In celebration of empathy and kindness, we’ve collected a list of recommended books that encourage kindness, giving, and open-mindedness.
Step Right Up
A horse that can read, write, spell, and do math? Ridiculous! That’s what people thought in the late 1800s—until they met Jim Key. Here is the true story of an extraordinary horse and the remarkable man who nurtured the horse’s natural abilities. Together they asked the world to step right up and embrace their message of kindness toward animals.
The Can Man
To earn money for a skateboard, Tim decides to collect and redeem empty soft drink cans like The Can Man. But by the time he nears his goal, a few chance encounters with The Can Man changes his perspective.
Destiny’s favorite place to be is Mrs. Wade’s bookstore where she helps out every Saturday. When Mrs. Wade tells Destiny she has to close the bookstore, Destiny organizes a community fundraiser.
Lend a Hand
A collection of poems showing the many ways individuals can make a difference.
Under the Lemon Moon
After consulting with family and neighbors about how to save her lemon tree, Rosalinda sets out in search of La Anciana, the only person who might have a solution to Rosalinda’s predicament. When she finally meets La Anciana, the woman offers an inventive way for Rosalinda to help her tree.
Gong Gong, Helen’s grandfather who only speaks Chinese, moves in with her family. Helen is worried about not being able to speak to him. She hears him counting train cars in Chinese, and she reciprocates by showing him how to count in English.
Goldfish and Chrysanthemums
Nancy’s grandmother, Ni Ni, finds out that her childhood home in China is being torn down. After winning two goldfish at the fair, Nancy keeps Ni Ni’s memories of her garden alive by recreating it in their backyard.
Sam and the Lucky Money
It’s Chinese New Year’s day and Sam’s grandparents have given him the traditional gift of lucky money–red envelopes called leisees (lay-sees). When he doesn’t have enough money to buy what he wants, Sam instead decides to give his money to a homeless man.
First Come the Zebra
Abaani, a Maasai boy, sees a Kikuyu boy, Haki, tending a new fruit and vegetable stall alongside the road. Because of the traditional conflicts between the Maasai and the Kikuyu, they take an immediate dislike to each other. A short while later, a dangerous situation arises near Haki’s stall and Abaani and Haki must overcome their differences and work together.
At her first swap meet, Estela is excited to sell her music box to earn money for folk dancing lessons. As Estela waits for customers, a strong wind suddenly sends everything flying. Estela rushes to help a woman selling flowers across the way, but she is too late. All the flowers are gone! Estela decides on a simple act of compassion and generosity, which brings her the gift of friendship and a delightful surprise.
Want these books and more? Check out our Kindness and Compassion collection.
Additional Resources on Kindess and Compassion:
Books for Children and Educators about Kindness
Lending a Hand for Random Acts of Kindness Week
Mix it up! 15 Books about Kindness and Giving
Protesting Injustice Then and Now
The Opposite of Colorblind: Why It’s Essential to Talk to Children About Race
10 Great Resources for Teaching About Racism