The "children's book" that best reflects this practice is not the usual kind of book written for children. Rather, it is a book of stories about and by children — The Kindness of Children by Vivian Gussin Paley. The author, a former kindergarten teacher, describes what happens when young children are given the chance to make up stories and act them out with their classmates. The kids produce moments of happiness and hopefulness for each other: These spontaneous storytellers create little homes for one another where everyone can imagine playing a role and no one is left out.

Using the children's stories as examples, Paley demonstrates the ripple effect of kindness. She tells one group of children how a kindergarten class found a way for a severely disabled boy named Teddy to be in their play. This story reminds a girl of a time when she was on a bus and someone read a newspaper story about how a gorilla saved a little boy; seeing everyone so happy that day made her want to do something good, so she gave up her seat to an old lady. Another true incident about two troublemaking boys helps the children see their potential for friendship. Through hearing and telling stories, the children are witnesses to acts of kindness.

Children’s books about kindness abound:

  • God Said Amen: Sandy Eisenberg Sasso shows that sharing and kindness are the keys to creating a better world and winning God's "amen."
  • Nico & Lola: Meggan Hill presents a story about a boy who learns many aspects of kindness while caring for a dog.
  • The Mitten Tree: Candice Christiansen and Elaine Greenstein show how a lonely old woman acts from her heart in kindness and love by knitting mittens for children who need them.
  • A Thread of Kindness: Leah Perl Shollar describes the benefits that accrue from the spiritual practice of kindness by putting others before yourself.
  • The Red Scarf: Anne Villeneuve spells out how a cab driver is launched on an adventure of kindness that opens his heart.
  • Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out!: April Pulley Sayre challenges children to see themselves as kind caretakers for turtles and the many perils these animals face.
  • Stone Soup: Jon J. Muth offers a traditional folk tale adapted to a Chinese setting where a closed-off village learns the spiritual rewards of kindness and sharing.
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee: Writer Philip Stead and illustrator Erin Stead appealingly attest to the power of friendship and the reciprocal nature of kindness.
  • Any Room for Me?: Loek Koopmans presents a playful book about kindness and the impermanence of all things.
  • Merci Mister Dash!: Monica Kulling relays the tale of a well-mannered, kind dog forced to spend time with a little girl he sees as a wild child.

More Children's Books on Kindness