Explore our favorite teaching tools.
Like our service projects, this list is continuously evolving. If you don't see your favorite books or websites, we welcome your suggestions in the comment section below.
Preschool and Early Elementary
Clifford’s Good Deeds by Norman Bridwell (Cartwell Books, 2010). Ages 4-8. While he has good intentions, Clifford’s good deeds always seem to result in wacky situations.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson , illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Nancy Paulson Books, 2012). Ages 5-8. When Chloe and her friends reject new girl Maya, she learns a valuable lesson about accepting people.
Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for you to Read withYour Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja (Duncan Baird, 2008) is a treasure. 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.
The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1998). Ages 4-8. Brother and Sister learn about the rewards of kindness when they help the elderly Widow McGrizz.
Chicken Soup for Little Souls: The Goodness Gorillas by Lisa McCourt (Health Communications, Inc., 1997). This feel-good story teaches the importance of reaching out to others – even the class bully.
If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover. (JourneyForth, 1989). Ages 2 and up. This funny book has a nice message about the impact of your actions on others.
Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness by Dawna Markova (Conari Press, 1994). Ages 3 and up. Stories of loving kindness written by kids of all ages.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson (Gibbs Smith, 2002). Ages 4-8. This book offers a lyrical and beautifully illustrated way to introduce and reinforce the “pay it forward” concept of kindness.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1996). Ages 3-7. 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 Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009). Ages 5 and up. 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 Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 2014). Ages 1-8. The simple, classic story of a tree that will do whatever it takes to make a boy happy.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken (Scholastic Press, 2001). Ages 4-8. A great read and the perfect antidote to the season’s all-too-common messages of materialism and greed.
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic Press, 2002). Ages 4-8. 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 (Scholastic Press, 2008). Ages 4-8. 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.
Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa (Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers, 2007). Ages 5-10. 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.
Kindness Kingdom board game by Marvelously Well-Mannered, LLC. Ages 5 and up. The importance of manners and empathy is highlighted in this board game.
Kids' Craft Kits For A Cause - This subscription program from Little Loving Hands uses craft-making as an opportunity to serve others from home. Each month, families create a unique kindness project to give back to an organization in need. Craft supplies, instructions, and prepaid mailing envelope are included, along with who/how/why details about the cause and those who benefit from the donation. Enter code DGT5 to save 5% on each 6-month or one-year subscription of Little Loving Hands Monthly Craft Kits (affiliate sale).
The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin (Watering Can, 2004). 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 (Running Press, 2001). Ages 4 and up. 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.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgens Burnett (Puffin, 2012). Ages 8 and up. When Sara loses her father, she must rely on her imagination, friends, and good nature to reclaim happiness. A classic children’s story that has also been adapted into a movie on several occasions, most recently in 1997.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgens Burnett CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015). Moving from vibrant India to gloomy England, Mary Lennox is alone and bitter while living with her uncle, who she never sees. When she discovers the garden and all its secrets, she learns to appreciate the beauty that can be found all around her.
Buddha in Your Backpack by Franz Metcalf, illustrated by Monk Song Yonk (Seastone Press, 2003). Written for teenagers as an introduction to Buddhism. Includes sections on loving-kindness.
Choices In A Jar game by Free Spirit Publishing (2008). Ages 8 and up. Players are asked to choose between two options; some funny, some thought-provoking. Learn about yourself and what you value while playing this game that appeals to people of all ages.
What Do You Stand for? A Kid’s Guide to Building Character by Barbara A. Lewis
(Free Spirit Press, 2005). Ages 11 and up. The book includes inventories to get to know yourself and identify the characteristics you would like to develop in yourself. Each chapter then describes a characteristic such as caring or empathy, describes it, provides resources, and gives an action plan for developing the characteristic.
Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character by Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono (Templeton Press, 2014). How do you make sure that you raise your children to be strong, caring individuals? This book explore the importance of teaching them gratitude and offers stories and research that support their claim.
The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci (Penguin Publishers, 2006).
The Wisdom We’re Born With: Restoring Our Faith in Ourselves by Daniel Gottlieb (Sterling Ethos, 2014). Gottlieb encourages readers to reach their full potential by embracing their situations and understanding how to form new, positive outlook on even the most dismal situations.
Teaching Your Kids to Care: How to Discover and Develop the Spirit of Charity in Your Children by Deborah Spaide (Citadel Press, 1995). Practical ideas for instilling the spirit of compassion and community service in your children.
Acts of Kindness app: Simply choose an act of kindness and share it with your friends.
Way of Life: The Ultimate Habit Maker & Breaker app: Use this free app to track just about anything, from good deeds to mediating
The Center for Learning
Nonprofit educational publisher committed to integrating academic learning and universal values through the humanities.
Character Counts Coalition
A website that includes teaching materials for teaching children the six pillars of character including this one on caring aimed at teens.
Do One Nice Thing
Encourages individuals to start the week off right by performing one good deed each Monday.
Donate items (books, stuffed animals, etc.) to fill special bags for children entering foster care.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Organization that inspires people to perform random acts of kindness for others. The website includes ideas for random acts of kindness in the community and in the classroom.
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