Kindness and friendship are abstract concepts for young minds to grasp. What does a friend do? What does being a good friend look, sound, and feel like? What does it mean to “be kind?” Thankfully, there are amazing books out there to help! Check out these fantastic kindness books and books about being a better friend.
Starting a foundation of empathy is key to helping grow kind and loving students. Building relationships with students in the classroom is one of the best ways to do that. However, peer interactions sometimes need a little nudge. These books help introduce the concepts to students at the beginning of the school year, but are great year-round!
Kindness Books about Bullying
It’s a sad truth that even young children may experience bullying. These kindness books help students learn how to deal with bullies and set boundaries.
Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
This adorable little book tells a very simple story in a few rhyming phrases. Stone and Stick are lonely until Stick “sticks up” for Stone when Pinecone teases him. Then Stone helps Stick out of a tough spot. The adorable illustrations will captivate even the youngest students while showing them what a good friend is.
Extending the Learning: Having a tangible thing to link to the main idea can be a great way to help students remember the story and the message. Check out this “pet rock” activity!
“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.” – Harold Kushner
Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney
The Llama Llama books are captivating, and this one is no exception. Little Llama’s preschool class has to deal with Gilbert, a bully goat, and show him how to be kind instead of a bully. This book is particularly lovely as it shows that bullies can change when shown kindness and shows students how to deal with mean behavior from others.
Extending the Learning: Have the children pair up and develop their own examples of kind friend behavior vs. unkind friend behavior to show the class.
Kindness Books about Acceptance
As the world becomes more and more of a global community, it is important to guide students into a mindset of acceptance, not exclusion. These kindness books are all about just that – from both sides of the coin.
Pete the Cat and the New Guy by James Dean
Pete the Cat and his cool friends have an intriguing “New Guy” that just moved in. He looks different, and no one can quite figure out what he’s good at. But the friends persist and discover a fantastic thing that this new guy can do. The message of this story is great: all of us are special in our own way!
Extending the Learning: Make an interactive bulletin board matching each character with what they are good at. Go the extra mile and add in your students by putting photos of them into the mix as well as what they are best at!
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
An elephant as man’s best friend? This book embraces friendship and being unique. When the main character tries to take his best buddy to the Pet Club, they are rejected at the door. Instead of giving up, they find others that don’t quite fit in the mold and make their own group. One of the best parts of this book is that it demonstrates true friendship and kindness in the main character’s actions and his pet elephant.
Extending the Learning: Have a special day where students can bring in a stuffed animal and have their own “pet club.” Each student can take a turn explaining why their pet is unique.
The New Neighbors by Sarah McIntyre
This adorable story carries a strong message about spreading rumors and making snap judgments about others. Little bunnies are thrilled to have new neighbors, and have never had rats as neighbors before. The other animals in the building, however, are not so pleased. Will the new neighbors live up to the bunnies’ expectations?
Extending the Learning: A good old-fashioned game of “telephone” is another great way to demonstrate how misunderstandings can twist ideas.
Can I Join Your Club? by John Kelly
Duck just wants to find a club where they can belong. Despite Duck’s best efforts, their application is denied repeatedly. So what’s a duck to do? Start a NEW club! This sweet story has a fantastic ending, and students will get a giggle out of Duck’s efforts to blend in.
Extending the Learning: This book has simple enough text to have students role-play it. Create simple hats out of construction paper and let the students retell the story in their own way!
Jessica’s Box by Peter Carnavas
While an earlier edition of this book stars a typical little girl with a box, an updated version features Jessica in a wheelchair. Jessica is worried about making friends at school. She brings all sorts of things in her box – a stuffed animal, cupcakes, her dog – and none of them help her until she finds just the right thing to put in her box. The sweet story about a little girl who wants to make friends is definitely a keeper!
Extending the Learning: Invite students to bring something special from home. Use a special box to hold the items and then reveal them in group time!
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
“All are welcome here” is the message repeated on every page of this charming book. It is the message of a school where everyone’s differences are loved and celebrated. Page-after-page introduces different races, religions, ethnicity, and body types. Truly a message that is needed now more than ever.
Extending the Learning: Get out the paints and have the students create self-portraits. Ask the students questions about themselves, fill in the answers, and post the results alongside self-portraits. Discuss the differences and similarities in class.
Kindness Books about Being a Good Friend
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
When a classmate spills grape juice on her dress at snack time, the main character struggles with finding ways to be kind and make her feel better. Some of those attempts don’t quite work out, but she helps Tanisha feel better in the end through persistence. The main character realizes that maybe she cannot solve Tanisha’s problem, but she can do small things to help her feel better, and those acts of kindness add up.
Extending the Learning: Start a kindness jar in your classroom. Whenever you catch someone being kind, put in a pom-pom. When the jar is full, have a celebration!
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
This beautiful, simply told picture book clearly illustrates for young children (and ALL of us) that there is always room for more friends, under the umbrella and metaphorically in our world. In the fall, Amy June Bates wrote and illustrated this picture book with her daughter Juniper while walking together in the rain.
Gemma and I had the absolute pleasure of hearing Amy speak about the process of creating this book, and then, of course, we had to get an autographed copy. It has become one of our favorites for reading with our students whenever there is a comment such as, “You can’t play here.”
“When you have more than you need, build a bigger table – not a higher fence.”
Looking for more Just-Right Read-Alouds for your preschoolers?
FREE Book Lists for every theme!
The absolute best thing we can do for our preschoolers is read to them every single day. It is the #1 most important factor in school readiness.
After you subscribe, you will be redirected to the FREE Book Lists. We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.