Using Books to Teach about Kindness, Inclusion & Empathy – Ages 3-8

Growing up we learn about kindness through direct instruction and seeing how others especially our role models behave. Another powerful way to increase and develop kindness and empathy is through reading books together.  Books are a powerful and effective way to teach these vital skills as they portray these messages in a visual way. Reading, especially fiction, helps a child connect imaginatively with the experiences of others. As it’s hard to just have a conversation (on what to a child seems a complex issue), sharing a story can make it easier to support and foster development on social issues like kindness, acceptance, diversity, friendship and acceptance. Books introduce children to new words, new concepts, different types of people, abilities and relationships that they are most likely not exposed to in their everyday life.  Books can help prepare young ones for when they are exposed to these situations in everyday life. Being aware and exposed, not only teaches them to be accepting but it may also make them encourage and help their friends to be so too.

Here are some of our favourite books:

Strictly No Elephants, Lisa Manchtev

This book is a story about a unique friendship and the value of belonging. It creatively teaches children that pets, as well as people, can be different and wonderful at the same time.

 

Red: A Crayon’s Story, Michael Hall

This book is about finding the courage to be true to your inner self and introduces children to the concept that just because someone looks a certain way, doesn’t mean they should be defined or limited by those characteristics.

 

Freddie and the Fairy, Julia Donaldson

A sweet story of a hard of hearing fairy, this book touches on disability and shares a universal message about the value of communicating effectively and clearly. And it does it all in such a fun way.

 

We All Sing With the Same Voice, J. Phillip Miller & Shep Greene

This book embraces the notion that no matter where children live, or what they look like, they’re all the same where it counts.. at heart. 

 

How Kind, Mary Murphy

Author Mary Murphy describes the book being about “the great feelings kindness generates, for giver and receiver”.

 

Listening With My Heart, Gabi Garcia

This story shares the messages of awareness, self-respect and friendliness.

 

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? Carol McCloud

This heart-warming book shows how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love.

 

Stick and Stone, Bet Ferry

This is a very funny story about kindness and friendship.

 

The Invisible Boy, Trudy Ludwig

This is a powerful book that asks students to notice their friends, to consider their feelings and to consider the impact on their peers.

 

We’re All Wonders, R. J. Palacio

Adopted for younger readers from his hugely successful book Wonder, this book taps into every child’s longing to belong and to be seen for who they truly are.

 

The Big Umbrella, Amy June Bates

This highly awarded book is a simple story about inclusion, hospitality and welcoming others.

 

Ranvir Cannot Hear, Genevieve Yusuf

This is a beautifully illustrated book with a message of inclusion and empowerment.

 

Come With Me, Holly M. McGee

This is a best-selling book about how small acts of kindness can be antidotes to hate. It’s about bravery, community and love.

 

Hey Little Ant, Hannah Hoosi

This book introduces a number of topics: reasons to respect, power, responsibility and peer pressure.

 

You Hold Me Up, Monique Gray Smith

This gorgeous book uses simple languages and everyday situations to portray the diverse ways young people feel cared about by the people they love.

 

My Brother Charlie, Holly Robinson Peete

This heart-warming story is told through the eyes of a sister whose brother has autism.  This is a great introduction to learning about children with autism. It focuses on ability and what someone can do.

 

Amos and Boris, William Steig

This is a delightful and very popular book about devotion, unlikely friendship and kindness.

 

Because Amelia Smiled, David Ezra Stein

A positive and inspiring story about the ripple effects of kindness, happiness, seeing the good and passing it on.

 

Be Kind, Pat Zietlow Miller

A gorgeous, unforgettable and beautifully illustrated book on how two simple words can change the world.

 

How to Heal a Broken Wing, Bob Graham

A gorgeous book by Aussie author which is gentle and funny and shows how a little bit of kindness can go a long way..

 

The Big Book of Love by Laurence Anholt

This book is a joyful celebration of all that is good in the world… it’s happiness in a book. 

 

What Does It Mean to Be Kind by Rana DiOrio, 

This is a lovely picture book about the value and impact that our actions can have when are kind to one another.

 

Whoever You Are, Mem Fox

This book looks at the importance of acceptance across all cultures and generations, celebrating the bond that unites us all.

 

The Great Big book of Families, Mary Hoffman

A fresh, optimistic look through children’s eyes at today’s wide variety of family. 

 

Just Because, Rebecca Elliott

Amusing and touching this story introduces the concept of special needs through a special sibling bond.

 

Lost and Found: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey, Amy Shrodes & Doug Kuntz

This heart-warming true story of one lost cat’s journey to be reunited with his refugee family gently introduces children to a difficult topic and shows how ordinary people can help with compassion and hope.

 

The Boy At the Back of the Class, Onjali Q Rauf

Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense. 

 

Refuges and Migrants, Ceri Roberts

This book discusses the questions – What does it mean to be a refugee–or a migrant? Why would people leave their homes? It answers kids’ questions, offer reassurance, and empowers them with ways they can help those affected.

 

Kindness Makes Us Strong Board book, Sophie Beer

Whether we share a toy or include someone in a game, all acts of kindness – no matter how big or small – make the world a better place. Kindness is doing what you can, where you are, with what you have, and in Kindness Makes Us Strong, Sophie Beer introduces us to a bunch of cute kids doing just that.  Shortlisted for the 2020 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the YearLonglisted for the 2020 ABIA Children’s Picture Book of the Year.