Creative Picture Books to Inspire Everyday Acts of Kindness

Picture books to inspire everyday acts of kindness for families from

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.

Check back often to browse newly added titles!

Talk about the issue.

  • 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?

Take care to discuss the books you read and the volunteering you do together. By talking intentionally and openly about complicated ideas, you are giving your child the opportunity to flex their compassion, problem-solving, and empathy muscles.
— Sarah Aadland, Doing Good Together
Print DGT’s reflection guide when you  volunteer together.  Also,  click here  for our complete list of reflection guides.

Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer together. Also, click here for our complete list of reflection guides.

Featured Titles

(We couldn’t help but choose two!)

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
What does it really mean to be kind? Follow one big-hearted kid on her quest to find out. She soon discovers that even small acts of kindness can make a difference, inspiring her to imagine a chain of kind acts that stretch "all the way... around the world."

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
Winner of Parents Magazine's "Best Book that Champions Kindness" of 2018! This wonderful, wordless book is a must-have for any big-hearted library.

Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for you to Read with Your 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.

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.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Fall in love with the latest picture book from the incomparable Jacqueline Woodson. This book is a beautiful reminder to take pride in our own stories, watch for what we have in common with others, and delight in our fabulous differences.

Doña Flor: A Tall Tale about a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart by Pat Mora
This heartwarming and humorous original tall tale is peppered with Spanish words and phrases. Readers will fall in love with Doña Flor, a giant lady with a great big heart.

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.

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards
This book is full of warmth and coziness, and it perfectly illustrates the challenges and satisfaction of creating a special gift for someone who deserves extra kindness.

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!

Here We Are: Notes for Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
This users guide for planet earth is both simple and profound, folding bits of wisdom into every page.

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

I am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde
This delightful book helps kids understand that even though we’re flawed and make mistakes, kind words and kind actions can make a difference. We’re all in this together!

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.

Members, visit our  Exclusive Downloads Collection  to print conversation cards for this story.

Members, visit our Exclusive Downloads Collection to print conversation cards for this story.

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! Discover our printable project designed to work with this book!

Lend a Hand: Poems about Giving by John Frank.
So much good is captured in the pages of this book. Kind acts of children are captured in the thoughtful, observant way only poetry can accomplish. 

Miss Tizzy by Libba More Gray.
With her colorful daily adventures, Miss Tizzy shares true friendship with the children in her community. When she becomes ill, the children offer her strength and support using all she taught them. 

Members, visit our  Exclusive Downloads Collection  to print conversation cards for this story.

Members, visit our Exclusive Downloads Collection to print conversation cards for this story.

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.

Members, don't forget to visit our Exclusive Downloads Collection to print conversation cards for this story Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This book’s simple, rhyming text and lovely illustrations, celebrates how a small act of kindness can grow into something amazing.

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.

Rosie Saves the World by Debbie Herman
Join Rosie on her quest to save the world. She discovers there is much to be done and many people to help in her neighborhood, but her greatest acts wills start right in her own home.

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
In this beautiful, wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Discover that friendship overcomes even pronounced difference, and no matter how small you are, you can make a big impact.

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.

Members, visit our  Exclusive Downloads Collection  to print conversation cards for this story.

Members, visit our Exclusive Downloads Collection to print conversation cards for this story.

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.

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting
Bunting's beautiful story of a birthday surprise is richly layered with powerful messages about family, relationships, and the importance of everyday kindness.

We're All Wonders by R. J. Palacio
The story of Auggie and his friends - stars of the middle grade hit Wonder - will inspire empathy, compassion, and joy in younger readers.

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.