Growing Reader

10 Powerful Books to Inspire Kindness for Kids Ages 6-8

by Miranda Rosbach

Photo credit: Catherine Delahaye, The Image Bank/Getty Images

In an age where seemingly-actionless phrases like “kindness is my superpower” and “throw kindness around like confetti” are commonplace, how do we actually instill this virtue into young people? Creating a generation of kind humans takes diligence, leading by example, and acknowledgement. Practicing kindness and developing a kind character doesn’t have to be elusive. However, it does have to be consistent. These 10 books provide both a firsthand look at how powerful kindness truly is and a resource for caregivers hoping to teach it to their young ones.

  • The Invisible Boy

    by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton

    Brian doesn’t take up much space in Mrs. Carlotti’s classroom. Not only is he not picked for the kickball team, he isn’t invited to birthday parties. At “Choice Time,” Brian draws pictures and is left in his own imagination, a place that doesn’t require friends. When new student Justin arrives, Brian hopes to finally find a friend. With thoughtful discussion questions at the back of the book, this is an ideal classroom read aloud and one that shows the power of kindness.

  • Each Kindness

    by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

    This story is told from the perspective of a young girl who doesn’t want the new girl, Maya, to be included in her group. In fact, all of the children work hard to ostracize Maya. But when the class talks about kindness, each member drops a pebble into the water, with the ripple effects reflective of how individual actions spread outward. This story will leave readers with thoughtful ruminations about missed opportunities for kindness and how those regrets can be avoided.

  • Here We Are

    by Oliver Jeffers

    In a love letter to his newborn son, Jeffers introduces planet earth to newcomers. With practical tips like caring for your body and using time wisely, readers are reminded — through the assortment of people and animals depicted in all shapes, sizes, and colors — of the great diversity that constitutes this world. The inclusive message is clear: There’s room for all.

  • Horton Hears a Who!

    by Dr. Seuss

    While lounging in the water one unsuspecting day, Horton the elephant hears a cry float his way. Noticing only a speck of dust passing by, Horton rescues the particle — certain that there is someone who needs assistance, despite his inability to see them. Fending off bullying kangaroos and other doubters, Horton stays loyal to his protective mission, reciting his clarion call: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

  • What Does It Mean to Be Kind?

    by Rana DiOrio

    Does being kind mean expecting a gift in return when you give one? Does it mean pretending to like something you don’t? After a few examples of what kindness isn’t, this book provides numerous specific scenarios of what it means to demonstrate kindness in the world. Filled with an ensemble of diverse characters, this is a must-have for classrooms and home libraries.

  • May All People and Pigs Be Happy

    by Micki Fine Pavlicek, illustrated by John Pavlicek

    After Molly is unkind to Claire at school, Claire finds comfort in her stuffed animal pig, Pigalina. Noticing her distress, Pigalina suggests some mindfulness techniques, providing Claire with a comforting mantra that she can repeat to feel safe, happy, and loved. Together, the two practice sending loving wishes into the world when others are less than kind. A thoughtful look at how to develop healthy skills to navigate difficult moments throughout life.

  • We Really Do Care

    by Tami Lewis Brown and Tania de Regil

    A young boy asserts possession over his ball, his pets, and family, proclaiming he will not share. When he sees a girl alone on the teeter totter, his focus shifts outward. After a series of questions between the two, the boy shifts his attitude, empathically acknowledging that he sometimes feels afraid too. We Really Do Care shows how a simple act of kindness can really make a difference.

  • We’re All Wonders

    by R.J. Palacio

    Auggie has a facial feature that makes him look different than the other kids. He uses a space helmet to hide his face and takes comfort in his dog Daisy. Sometimes his imagination takes him to a planet where everyone looks different, too. We’re All Wonders adapts Palacio’s acclaimed middle grade novel into a picture book for younger readers, and is just as compelling as the original.

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    by Fred Rogers, illustrated by Luke Flowers

    From walking a pet giraffe to snuggling on an ugly day, this treasury of songs and poems cover a range of emotions — all from the master of childhood himself, Mr. Fred Rogers. With joyful illustrations, each optimistic stanza provides both advice and encouragement to young readers — compelling them to keep striving and asking questions. To caregivers, this compilation is a wonderful way to showcase the positive (even amidst the tumult of growing up).

  • Non-Random Acts of Kindness

    by Lauren Myracle, illustrated by Jed Henry

    Ty is a second grader who, along with his classmates, has been tasked to perform a non-random act of kindness and report to the class about his experience. Throughout the week, Ty has a playdate that goes awry and struggles as he unsuccessfully tries to get a pet for his baby sister. At the last minute, Ty taps into the well of kindness he didn’t know he’d been demonstrating all along. The second installment in The Life of Ty series is a wonderful early chapter book.