We are just around the corner from Valentine’s Day! Before we dive into paper doily cards and candy hearts let’s take a moment to think about the reason we celebrate: love. And what better way to experience love on a daily basis than to live a life of kindness? Your children learn kindness by watching others, including their friends, their teachers, and you. When we take the time to have conversations about the importance of kindness, children understand that it’s something we value. This month’s book list includes ten titles that will help you get started. Enjoy!
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
This wordless book (aside from a few beautifully illustrated sound words) is a retelling of the classic Aesop fable. The majestic and powerful lion shows mercy on the tiny and unassuming mouse, who later returns the kindness. Children and adults appreciate this classic and gorgeous rendition.
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth
Based on the classic tale by Leo Tolstoy, a small boy is searching for the answers to his three questions. What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? His own journey leads him to the answers, which are of course, based in being kind and present in the moment.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
CJ is a bouncy young child who is traveling across the city with his grandmother one Sunday. A bit annoyed that they must ride the bus instead of hopping into a car, he is full of questions which his grandmother patiently answers. CJ learns many things and meets many different people before arriving at their final destination: a soup kitchen where he and his grandmother will help people less fortunate than themselves.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Many of us are familiar with Silverstein’s timeless treasure of a book. While the tree in the story is exceedingly kind to the boy, this is a good book to teach children about the limits of kindness. We can be kind to others without putting our own happiness and well-being at risk.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow
Molly Lou Mellon’s buck teeth, short stature, and deep voice may not be what many consider to be the standard of perfection, but Molly’s grandmother has instilled a strong sense of positive self-esteem in the young girl. When Molly moves away and is teased by another child in her new school, fierce determination and pride in her unique qualities help her shine through the challenge.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud, illustrated by David Messing
This beloved book encourages readers to visualize a bucket that we all carry around with us. When the bucket is full, we feel happy and content. When we are sad, lonely, or upset, the bucket may be empty. The story talks about different ways our actions can affect one another, either emptying or filling each other’s buckets. This book also helps children understand that negative actions that may empty a bucket, such as teasing, are not permanent or definitive of who we are. There is always room for us to grow and love others.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
A little girl tells the story of working toward a simple yet special goal in the aftermath of an apartment fire. All the family’s belongings were destroyed, and while their neighbors and friends donated what they could, something important was missing: one soft, comfortable chair for her to share with her mother and grandmother. The three save every coin they are able in a large glass jar, until they are finally able to make a trip to the furniture store together.
Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
One hot day, Elephant Gerald hears the enticing call of Ice Cream Penguin. He happily purchases a cone, but just before he takes his first bite, he thinks of his best friend, Piggy. Would Piggy want some of his ice cream? Should he wait and share? Would she ever know if he ate it without her? His big heart wins the internal battle, but there is a twist ending.
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Willems says this tale is written for those as young as 3 and as old as 36, but frankly, we think those age limits could be extended a bit. Leonardo wants nothing more in life than to scare the tuna salad out of someone, but he doesn’t seem to be able to. He finally finds some success, but might he discover that friendship is a lot more satisfying?
We hope you and your family enjoy these books about kindness. Please let us know what you think, and if there are any others you think we should add to the list!