Adam Gustavson Illustrations ©2011

Recommended Reading For Children: Preschool-Elementary

Adults | Preschool-Elementary | Elementary-Middle School | Middle School–Young Adults


NOTE: please read first to make sure the content and reading level is
age-appropriate for your particular young reader.

Boelts, Maribeth. Those Shoes. Massachusetts: Candlewick, 2009. Set in a realistic interracial school environment, this story addresses “wants” vs. “needs” in a beautiful, compassionate way.

Brandt, Lois. Maddi’s Fridge. New York: Flashlight Press, 2014. Author Lois Brandt sensitively addresses for young readers the important topic of childhood hunger and how we can make a difference in helping others in need.

Brown, Laurie Krasney and Marc Brown. How To Be A Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them. Massachusetts: Little Brown & Co., 2001. Dinosaur characters illustrate the value of friends, how to make friends, and how to be a good friend.

Burnett, Karen Gedig. Simon's Hook; A Story About Teases and Put-downs. California: GR Publishing, 2000. When Simon's bad haircut makes him the target of teasing, Grandma Rose teaches him how to refuse to “take the hook.”

Carlson, Nancy. How to Lose All Your Friends. New York: Puffin, 1997. The author uses humor to convey what it takes to be a good friend and make friends.

Cave, Kathryn. Something Else. New York: Mondo Publishing, 1998. Something Else wants to be like everybody else but finds he isn't. This is a lovely story about accepting people's differences.

De La Peña, Matt. Last Stop On Market Street. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. CJ leans important lessons from his nana about the beauty of the people they encounter in their everyday city life.

De Paola, Tomi. Oliver Button is a Sissy. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers,1979.Oliver Button is teased by the boys in his class for pursuing his dream of being a tap dancer.

DiOrio, Rana. What Does It Mean To Be Kind? California: Little Pickle Press, 2015. With simple, straightforward text, this book helps young children easily understand what acts of kindness are all about.

Frankel, Erin. Weird, Dare, Tough Book Series. Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing, 2012. The Weird Series are stories of bullying told from the perspectives of the target, the bystander, and the child doing the bullying. Best to get all three in the series to be more effective in the classroom.

Gainder, Cindy. I’m Like You, You’re Like Me. Minnesota: Free Spirit, 2011. This is a nice little intro to young readers about appreciating our similarities and differences with one another.

Geissel, Theodor (Dr. Seuss). The Sneetches and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1961. The Sneetches is an excellent story about prejudice and social outcasts.

Jenkins, Emily. The Little Bit Scary People. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. A lovely little story about how some people look or act a little bit scary, but if you’d get to know them better, you’d find out they’re really not.

Hoose, Phillip and Hannah Hoose. Hey Little Ant. California: Tricycle Press, 1998. A little ant tries to convince a boy not to squish him because he has feelings and a family, too. The book allows the reader to determine the outcome of the story-great opportunities for discussion!

Kerascoët. I Walk With Vanessa. New York: Schwartz & Wade, available in February 2018.A beautiful, compassionate story in which a young bystander who witnesses hurtful behavior becomes an upstander and recruits more upstanders.

Lovell, Patty. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. New York: Scholastic, 2002. When the class bully at her new school makes fun of her, Molly remembers what her grandmother told her and she feels good about herself.

Ludwig, Trudy. The Invisible Boy. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013. Brian is invisible. Nobody seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, games, or activities…until a new kid comes to class. This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

Ludwig, Trudy. Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, available in August 2018. Owen, a talkative boy, comes down with laryngitis and learns about the power of listening—not only with his ears but also with his heart—as a result.

McCain, Becky. Nobody Knew What To Do: A Story About Bullying. Florida: Magnetix Corporation, 2002. When bullies pick on a boy at school, a classmate is afraid and tells his teacher. The story delivers the message that bystanders can make a difference.

McCloud, Carol. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? Michigan: Ferne Press, 2006. This story helps young children understand the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.

Moss, Peggy. One of Us. Maine: Tilbury House, 2010. Roberta’s first day at a new school is a bit confusing as she tries to find friends who can accept her for who she is. This book will generate great discussions about peer pressure of trying to fit in with others.

Moss, Peggy and Dee Dee Tardif. Our Friendship Rules. Maine: Tilbury House, 2007. When Alexandra dumps her best friend Jenny for the new, cool girl, she soon learns that friendship is more important than popularity.

Moss, Peggy. Say Something. Maine: Tilbury House, 2004. A girl witnesses others being mean to her peer and learns the important lesson that being a silent bystander is not the solution.

Munson, Derek. Enemy Pie. California: Chronicle Books, 2000. A fun story of how a little boy, with the help of his Dad, learns a delicious lesson for turning his number one enemy into a good friend.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. King of the Playground. New York: Atheneum, 1991. Kevin is afraid of the bully Sammy. With the help of his dad, Kevin handles Sammy.

Otoshi, Kathryn. Draw the Line. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2017. This is a story about friendship, boundaries, and healing after conflict.

Otoshi, Kathryn. One. California: Ko Kids Books, 2008. This simple story shows young readers how, when you stand up for others, you can make a positive difference.

Otoshi, Kathryn. Two. California: Ko Kids Books, 2014. Another lovely numbers story by Otoshi promoting healthy friendships among young children.

Otoshi, Kathryn. Zero. California: Ko Kids Books, 2010. All the number Zero saw when she looked at herself was a hole—right in her center. This is delightful story with the heartfelt message that everyone has value.

Seskin, Steve and Allen Shamblin. Don't Laugh At Me. California: Tricycle Press, 2002. This picture book helps kids think twice about teasing and name-calling.

Stead, Philip. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. New York: Roaring Book Press, 2010. A kind zookeeper who gets sick and now the animals kindly come to take care of the caretaker!

Thomas, Pat. Stop Picking on Me. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2000. This book approaches the issue of bulling and feelings in a simple and interactive fashion.

Verdick, Elizabeth. Words Are Not For Hurting. Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing, 2004. For ages 4-8, this book focuses on the power of words when it comes to friendship and social skills.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012. A modern take of the classic story One Hundred Dresses, this story shows how important it is to reach out to others in kindness.