I am a believer about teaching our students about kindness in the classroom above all else. Everything will fall into place, and the world will be better for it, if we begin with kindness. Below is a list of books that teach kindness in the classroom.
Typically those children who need the most love and kindness are the children that struggle with being kind. They need that many more positive interactions and LOTS of modeling on how to be kind.
Spending some valuable time at the beginning of the year focusing on kindness (and a few days throughout the year) will go a long way to developing a caring classroom community.
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Using Books that Teach Kindness in the Classroom
Use as a read aloud or as a reading or social studies mini-lesson the first few weeks of school.
Then model this behavior consistently, and students to demonstrate acts of kindness. Choose those students that you may feel need to have extra practice with this skill. Be very intentional about letting them know that they were exhibiting kind behavior and that now you know they can do it!
Follow up with activities and role plays. Act out how to share materials, help another student, and what to say to let others know you care about them.
And be extra diligent about pointing this out whenever you see it in your classroom the first month of school. It will go a long way toward helping reduce poor behaviors in your classroom.
Here is a list of books that teach kindness in the classroom, starting with bucket filling.
NOTE: If you’re not into the bucket filling tradition, read ahead for more books on teaching kindness in the classroom.
Books About Bucket Filling
1. How Full is Your Bucket?
This book by Tom Rath will introduce the idea of being a bucket filler to your students. This teaches them what bucket filling is, the importance of filling your own bucket, and what we can do to fill or empty someone else’s bucket.
2. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
This book by Carol McCloud can be used as a follow up to How Full Is Your Bucket? Students learn how kindness and love can be used to fill a friend’s “invisible bucket,” and how this is something we should try to do for someone else every day.
3. Bucket Filling from A to Z
Using each letter of the alphabet, this book has simple ways to be a bucket filler.
4. Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children
This book talks about how we can promote our own happiness through being a bucket filler.
More Books that Teach Kindness
5. What Does It Mean to Be Kind?
As the title suggests, Rana DiOrio answers this very question.
6. Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners
With a silly little play on words, this book by Laurie Keller teaches kids all about ways we can be kind to others.
7. We All Sing With the Same Voice
By J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene, this song book connects kids around the world. Each verse highlights differences between children, also shown in the illustrations.
We all sing with the same voice. The same song. The same voice. We all sing with the same voice and we sing in harmony.
8. The Giving Tree
Shel Silverstein, one of my favorite authors of childhood books, tells a story of a boy and a tree who cared deeply for each other. But, the boy keeps taking parts of the tree until all that is left is a stump. At the end, the boy (who is now an old man) needs a place to sit, so he leans against the stump to rest a while.
9. Horton Hears a Who!
This book by Dr. Seuss, recently turned into an animated movie, is about an elephant who hears a whole town of Whos on a speck of dust. He stands by the town when they run into trouble, even though the other animals make fun of him.
10. Each Kindness
Jacqueline Woodson writes about a new girl at school who is NOT treated kindly by another girl when she arrives. When the new student leaves, the other girl is left to learn that through kindness, she may have been able to make a new friend instead.
11. Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler
This read-aloud video will help give your students practical ideas on how they can be a bucket filler. In this story, Mrs. Ruler teaches her students that kindness is pretty cool. The students then set a goal to perform 100 acts of kindness.
12. The Kindness Quilt
Nancy Wallace turns a simple school project, making a kindness quilt, into a school-wide event.
13. The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World
Twins reach out to their neighbor to show acts of kindness in this book by Maria Dismondy.
14. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed
By Emily Pearson and Fumi Kosaka, this story is about an average girl who does something nice for a neighbor. The neighbor pays the kindness forward, causing a chain reactions of strangers doing kind things for each other.
15. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
A story by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, it’s about a zookeeper who takes the time to take great care of all of the animals in the zoo. Then, when he is too sick to go to work, the animals decide to visit the zookeeper to take care of him.
16. Those Shoes
In this book by Maribeth Boelts, a young boy dreams about getting a new pair of shoes. His family does not have the money to buy them. But, when he sees a like new pair in a thrift store he buys them, even though they are too small. When he meets another student at school that also needs a new pair of shoes, and they would fit him, the boy gives them to him in a random act of kindness.
18. The Invisible Boy
By Trudy Ludwig, this book tells the story of a quiet boy who never complains. He feels invisible compared to the other children at school. But this all changes when a new kid comes to school.
19. Enemy Pie
Derek Munson writes about a boy who is having a great summer until a new kid moves in. This new kid excludes other kids and makes fun of them. The boy’s father makes enemy pie to help him defeat the new kid. But, the catch is that in order for the pie to work, they boys have to play together all day. At the end of the day, they have become good friends and enjoy the pie together.
20. Should I Share My Ice Cream?
An Elephant and Piggie story by Mo Willems, this one talks about sharing treats with others.
Books that Teach Kindness throughout the Year
21. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
In this holiday classic, Dr. Seuss tells the story of the Grinch, who learns a lesson about the importance of giving back to others.
22. Bear Stays Up for Christmas
In this story from Karma Wilson, Bear’s friends help Bear stay up by having him help them get ready for Christmas. Bear stays up to find that giving is the best Christmas gift of all!
23. If You Plant a Seed
This book by Kadir Nelson follows a rabbit and a mouse, who plant seeds and wait for them to grow. Once the fruits and vegetables are ready to be picked, they have to make the difficult decision of whether to share or be selfish.
24. The Easter Egg
Your students will love the illustrations in this classic Jan Brett story. Hoppi wants to decorate the best Easter egg so he can help the Easter bunny deliver eggs.
But through his journey, he comes across a baby bird who has fallen from the nest, and Hoppi decides to be kind and take care of it. He is rewarded for his efforts when the Easter bunny chooses him, and the baby bird’s broken shell, as the winner!
25. Hey, Little Ant
Phillip and Hannah Hoose tell a story of a boy who almost steps on an ant while he is walking down the sidewalk. This is a great book about understanding the perspective of others and walking in their shoes.
If you liked this post, you may also like my list of 21 Easy Activities for Clifford’s Kitten and Other Stories OR check out 7+ Engaging Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book Activities.
Or, if you’re looking for other posts about using books to teach kindness in the classroom this is a great post from Mama Wears Pajamas, 5 Books to Read Aloud the First Week of School.