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Creative Picture Books to Inspire Everyday Acts of Kindness

Picture books to inspire everyday acts of kindness for families from DoingGoodTogether.org

Teach empathy with these excellent stories!

Simple acts of kindness can have a big impact on the world, as one good deed inspires the next. This evolving list of picture books will motivate your family to help others in ways great and small every day.


Conversation Starters

  • How would we know if someone was having a bad day and may need a little extra kindness?

  • What are some safe and simple ways to share kindness with a stranger?

  • What acts of kindness have others shared with you recently? How did they make you feel?

  • Have you ever thought of doing a kind thing for a stranger, but decided not to out of nervousness? How could you overcome your shyness in the future?

Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for you to Read withYour Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja
This book contains 20 modernized versions of ancient Buddhist stories. Most are full of whimsy and wonder, spurring on creative play, even as they teach about kindness, courage, and peace. Each story ends with a short restatement of the moral for reinforcement.

Chicken Soup for Little Souls: The Goodness Gorillas by Lisa McCourt
This feel-good story teaches the importance of reaching out to others – even the class bully.

Clifford’s Good Deeds by Norman Bridwell
While he has good intentions, Clifford’s good deeds always seem to result in wacky situations.

The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
When Cornelia Augusta catches hearts from the sky, she must decide what heart to give to what friend.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
When Chloe and her friends reject new girl Maya, she learns a valuable lesson about accepting people. And the regret of missing an opportunity to share kindness.

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell
A wonderful story for inspiring a discussion about the power of friendship, appreciation for what we have, and the true meaning of gift giving.

The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin
This book is a wonderful tool to help elementary school kids understand and set their own charitable priorities. This book is one part journal, one part work book, and one part cheerleader for the task of doing good.

The Giving Box: Create a Tradition of Giving with Your Children by Fred Rogers
The folktales and fables in this small volume encourage children in the spirit of giving. A “giving box” is also included — a simple way to make donating to charity a family ritual.

Have you Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
This is the book that’s sweeping elementary schools across the nation. It’s likely you’ve encountered it somewhere, but this list would be very incomplete without it. The bucket provides a perfect metaphor for the way our words and actions can make others overflow with happy feelings, or the way we may lash out at others when we’re feeling depleted and empty. Even the youngest readers will set out to fill a bucket near them!

If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover
This funny book has a nice message about the impact of your actions on others.

Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness by Dawna Markova
Stories of loving kindness written by kids of all ages.

Kiki's Hats by Warren Hanson
Kiki’s story is another variation on the theme of how love and kindness can touch the world. Kids are inspired to start right now, sharing their own talents in whatever way they can. My five-year-old is especially in love with this simple story.

Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
 When Mrs. Ruler’s class is challenged to perform as many good deeds as possible, they find creative and fun ways to give back to people.

The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
When the students in Mrs. Cooper’s class are challenged to do acts of kindness and depict them in drawings, their work is so impressive, they create a “kindness quilt” that continues to grow. Don't let the cute, simple design of this book fool you. Children are universally inspired to mimic the activity in this book as soon as reading time ends!

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
Introduce the idea that kindness is contagious, and watch kindness circle the globe in just a few days. Mary, as ordinary as any other kid, starts it all with a special delivery. The rhythm and rhyme of this book make it a fun read aloud experience, too.

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
A great read and the perfect antidote to the season’s all-too-common messages of materialism and greed.

Reach Out and Give by Cheri Meiners
This book is very straight forward, and it’s definitely more a teaching tool than a story. It is simple, effective, and a quick read. After a brief discussion of gratitude, this book illustrates a number of different ways kids can be helpers in their community. In the back it includes discussion questions, a philanthropy role-play, generosity games, and ideas for service projects.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz
A grumpy, lonely man discovers the importance of friendship when he receives an unexpected package from an admirer. A compelling message about the power of kindness.

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth
Based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy, The Three Questions is the story of a little boy’s quest to discover the secret to being a good person.

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
Muth weaves three Zen fables into a whimsical story of three siblings who befriend their new panda bear neighbor. Each fable provides openings for discussions about anger and forgiveness, wealth, manners, imagination, patience, luck, and many other big ideas.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.