6 books to help children understand empathy and kindness

Now more than ever, it feels so important to talk to our children about being kind and having empathy and compassion for those around us. These can be tricky concepts to explain to little ones, so we’ve collected our top 6 books for starting these conversations.

Kindness Counts 123 by R.A. Strong, illustrated by Ekaterina Trukhan


A bright, accessible book for young readers which combines counting down from 10 with ideas for different ways we can do kind things for those around us. The vibrant illustrations show a diverse group of children performing acts of kindness from sharing their toys with their friends to donating to food banks to not stepping on a busy army of ants! The counting format and approachable language make this a perfect starting point for talking about kindness with younger children.

Kindness Counts 123 by R.A. Strong & Ekaterina Trukhan

A Sick Day for Amos McGee - Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead


This award-winning picture book gently introduces the idea that if we are kind to others, they will be there for us when we need them. Amos is a quirky character who spends his time looking after his friends at the zoo in ways you might not expect, showing true empathy for each one. When Amos gets sick, his animal friends visit him at home to take care of him, returning Amos’s careful, compassionate attention. We love the sweet message and soothing illustrations which are full of witty details for readers to spot.


A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead & Erin. E. Stead

Everybody’s Welcome – Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Greg Abbott


A beautiful book with a cast of cute woodland characters that will spark conversations about generosity, compassion and community. Mouse is starting work to build his new house when along come several animals who have each lost their own homes. Mouse doesn’t hesitate to invite them to join him and they work together to build a special home where they are all welcome. A heart-warming, timely story told in gorgeous, playful illustrations.


Everybody's Welcome by Patricia Hegarty & Greg Abbott

Be Kind – Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill


A story that starts with an everyday example of a child wanting to help her classmate feel better and becomes a thoughtful exploration of the different ways we can be kind to one another. From small acts of kindness towards our friends and family to examples of how these small acts can grow and spread throughout our communities and across the world, we think this book is perfect for opening up discussion around how our actions can have much larger consequences. We love the soft, watercolour illustrations too!


Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller & Jen Hill

Thank You, Omu! - Oge Mora


We adore this vibrant book which tells the story of Omu (meaning ‘queen’ in Igbo) who is cooking a delicious-smelling stew for her dinner. As the smell pervades her city neighbourhood, she shares a portion of her stew with each one of her neighbours until she has nothing left for herself. But her community won’t let her go hungry as they repay her generosity with food and friendship. The bright paper-cut illustrations make this a joyous celebration of compassion and togetherness.


Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Kindness Rules – Eunice Moyle & Sabrina Moyle


Magic the Elephant is a kindness superhero! Using bright, cheerful illustrations and hilarious text, Magic offers a comprehensive guide to help little ones understand how their words and actions can make others feel, from saying please and thank you to smiling at others when you say hello. A brilliant introduction to manners and kindness for little ones with the ultimate message that we should treat others how we would wish to be treated ourselves.


Kindness Rules! by Eunice Moyle & Sabrina Moyle

For videos of more of our favourite books, check out our Story-time sessions on Maggieandrose.me.

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