Show some love to your favorite little people this month by snuggling up together with a good book…and inspire them to keep the good deeds going with these fabulous picture books about kindness.
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Let’s be real for a moment…my house is not always filled with gentle, loving-kindness. My three wild boys spend a lot of time wrestling each other and trying to push each other’s buttons.
They love each other, and when push comes to shove (and sometimes it really does) they really do take care of each other, but like most kids, they also have their difficult moments.
So, let’s just say, we can use all the inspiration we can get over here in the “choose to be kind” department.
February–the month of LOVE–seems like the perfect time to refocus on kindness at home, school, and in our community.
To inspire my own family, and hopefully yours as well, I’ve curated a list of my favorite picture books about kindness.
Picture Books about Kindness and Love
A Sick Day for Amos McGee. This book is one of my absolute favorites. Amos McGee is more than just a zookeeper–he is a kind and gentle friend to all the animals in his care. But one day when Amos gets sick, who will take care of him? This delightful story teaches that the kindness you give will come back to you when you need it most.
Strictly No Elephants. When a boy and his elephant go their first “pet club” meeting, they are disappointed to find out that elephants are not allowed. What are they to do? In addition to having beautiful illustrations, this sweet story teaches powerful lessons about friendship and reaching out to others in need of a friend.
The Pout-Pout Fish. What I love most about this book (other than the fun-to-read rhyme and cadence) is its message about the importance of showing our love. Mr. Fish is a pretty glum fellow, and all the sea creatures keep telling him he needs to put on a happy face. But he just can’t seem to shake the dreary-wearies…until a new fish shows him a little love without expecting anything in return. A simple message, but SO powerful to teach our kids that actions speak louder than words.
The Girl and the Bicycle. For any child who has ever longed for that special toy in the window, this book will hit home. Determined to buy the beautiful bike she spies in the store window, the girl in the story runs home to count her money. Realizing it’s not enough, she works hard for months to earn the needed money. When she finally goes to buy it, however, she discovers the bicycle has been sold! But all is not lost. An act of kindness (or two) save the story, and this old-timey wordless picture book will leave you with all the warm fuzzies.
The Lion and the Mouse. This gorgeously-illustrated wordless picture book retells Aesop’s classic fable. Even without words, the story is compelling and will opens up a conversation about Aesop’s moral: “No act of kindess, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
The Rabbit Listened. How do you help a friend who is sad? That’s the question this book explores. When Taylor’s block tower crashes to the ground, all the animals offer suggestions…but none of them seem to help. Then the rabbit comes…and just listens. It’s a book that definitely got me thinking about how I respond to big emotions when they erupt in my own house.
Enemy Pie. When Jeremy Ross moves in down the street and ruins EVERYTHING, the main character in this story starts brainstorming ways to get rid of his new enemy. Luckily, his dad has a sure-fire recipe: Enemy Pie. With a heaping spoonful of humor and imagination, this story teaches that the best way to lose an enemy is to turn him into a friend.
Horton Hears a Who. Sometimes, you just gotta go with the classics. My kids love Dr. Seuss’s classic story about the loyal elephant Horton, who protects the tiny people of Whoville. Even when no one else believes that they exist, Horton does everything he can to help the small town. Standing up for what you know is right can be hard, but this story reminds us that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
If You Plant a Seed.This beautiful picture book by Caldecott winner Kadir Nelson tells a poignant (and amusing) story that explores the metaphor: “You reap what you sow.” If you plant a carrot, obviously a carrot will grow. But what happens if you plant a seed of kindness? I just can’t get over the fabulous expressions on the animals faces as they interact in kind…and not so kind…ways.
Zen Shorts. Beautiful, gentle, and profound. I just adore this award-winning book by Jon J. Muth. Stillwater, a giant panda, befriends three kids in his neighborhood and teaches each one a powerful lesson through the ancient folktales of his homeland. If you haven’t read this one yet, please go find it. You’ll thank me later.
Otis. Who knew a tractor could be so loveable? But it’s hard to resist Otis, an old-fashioned tractor who loves his farm and the little calf he takes under his wing. But when a new tractor shows up, Otis gets pushed aside and forgotten…until a crisis gives him the chance to prove himself by helping his friend in a time of need.
Last Stop on Market Street. “He wondered how his nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look.” The first time I read this book, I immediately had two thoughts. First, that this book would become one of the classics (it has). Second, that this book was important. It meets kids (and grown-ups) where they are…with all the questions of “why don’t we…” and then shows us a glimpse of a better way.
Hands Say Love. Acts of love don’t have to be grand. This story’s simple text creates a poetic backdrop for the illustrations of a family showing love in simple ways. I love that it shows both kids and adults helping each other as they go about their day to day lives. It would be a great book to start a discussion about all the little things we can do to show love to those we see each day.
Because Amelia Smiled. A simple smile from a little girl starts a chain reaction that travels all around the world…and back again. After reading the story, try challenging your kids to smile as often as possible (and do it yourself, too)! Then together you can imagine all the happy things that just might result from all those smiles.
My Friend is Sad. You can’t go wrong with a Mo Willems book, right? Seriously, Elephant and Piggie are my solution to a bad mood any day. In this goofy story, Gerald is sad, and Piggie keeps trying to cheer him up…but it’s not working! In the end, we get a sweet lesson about loving people the way they need and a reminder that sometimes a friend is the best medicine.
Love these books? Pin this image to save the list for your next library trip!
Want more book ideas? Here are some of our other favorites: